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Taiwan develops low-power chips for mobile markets

Posted: 24 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:dual-core DSP? WiMAX? SoC designs?

Taiwan's government-sponsored research arm is preparing to tape out a dual-core DSP and a single-chip WiMAX controller that aim to consume less power than existing commercial devices, helping local companies get a leg up in mobile multimedia markets.

The two chips were among the wide range of advancements ranging from flexible displays and molecular diagnostics to an electric car presented in a recent gathering in Silicon Valley sponsored by Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). The ITRI event aimed to spark new partnerships and help the 5,700-agency recruit staff for some 70 open job positions.

Among its silicon advances, ITRI hopes to tape out before the end of the year a 90nm dual-core version of its Parallel Architecture Core (PAC) DSP followed by a 65nm quad-core version in 2009. "The two-core device aims to consume about 0.08mW/MIPS, less than competing devices from companies such as Texas Instruments Inc.," said Cheng-Wen Wu, director, SoC Technology Center, ITRI.

The institute has already created a joint venture with local consumer firm SunPlus Technologycalled SunPlus Coreto use a single-core version of the DSP in a handheld consumer product set to ship by the end of the year. The chip has been shown decoding an H.264 video stream at a 640 x 480 resolution and 30frame/s.

"The joint venture is developing custom tools and low-level software for the single-core part. To make the chip broadly useful, ITRI researchers are working on a full tool chain for PAC, a task that could take two years," Wu said.

Separately, the group is developing a single-chip WiMAX baseband compatible with the 802.16e and Wave 2 specifications. The team has tested an FPGA-based prototype that supports two antennas and hopes to tape out an ASIC version in September.

"We also would like this chip to be lower power than existing silicon because it targets handheld systems, but we don't have any numbers yet," added Wu.

ITRI has had SoC development center for about eight years. It currently employs about 340 people, most of them at its Hsinchu headquarters.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times





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