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Embedded processors, cores target broad app range

Posted: 21 Oct 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Samsung electronics? arm? broadcom? Motorola? embedded processor?

Designers detailed a diverse array of embedded processors at the end of the Microprocessor Forum at San Jose, California. Samsung Electronics Corp. pushed an ARM-10 core to 1.2GHz, ARM Ltd discussed its first ARM-11 cores, Motorola Inc. unveiled a superscalar version of its ColdFire, and Broadcom Corp. showed a four-processor implementation of its SiByte processor.

Samsung Electronics applied expertise from its Alpha EV68 design team to boost a new version of the ARM 1020E core to a 1.2GHz clock speed. The so-called Halla processor consumes 1.7W at its peak speed but ratchets back to as little as 260mW at 400MHz.

The Halla design gets its speed primarily from a full custom circuit design and layout with an added boost from the 130nm process technology that Samsung once used for Alpha processors. Halla will deliver 1,480DMIPS and sample in Q1 of 2003.

The company plans to use the core in future processors aimed at PocketPC handhelds and digital TVs. The core could also be used in 3G handsets, 3D graphics chips or network processors, Samsung said.

Separately ARM showed its first ARM-11 core in versions with and without a floating-point unit. The synthesizeable core has an eight-stage pipeline and is suitable for implementation at 400MHz with a power consumption of less than 200mW.

ARM will deliver the core for the first time in an integrated silicon platform that includes common peripherals such as DRAM and SRAM memory controllers, dual UARTS and a display controller.

"More people are moving to platform-based design because of the number of transistors people are putting into their SoCs and they want to get quickly to market," said Simon Segars, executive vice president of engineering at ARM.

For its part, Motorola detailed the first superscalar ColdFire processor, the version 5, which extends its software support for the 68000 architecture. The core delivers 610MIPS at 333MHz in a 130nm process, which Motorola estimates is twice the performance of the current version 4.

ColdFire v5 uses two execution pipelines based on the single pipeline developed for its predecessor. The device offers optional memory management and floating-point blocks. The core measures 5.2 mm? without caches.

Broadcom's SiByte unit is aimed at high-performance networking jobs with its muscular BCM1400. The part could act as a dataplane processor in a network storage switch or on a line card in a router or server. It can handle a variety of networking chores including packet forwarding, TCP/IP termination, ATM segmentation and reassembly, or traffic shaping.

The part integrates four SiByte processor cores on a proprietary multiprocessing on-chip bus that can link up to eight chips on a board. The chip sports three interfaces that can flexibly handle either SPI 4.2 for packet transmissions or HyperTransport for PCI or coherent multiprocessing flows between SiByte chips.

The 120-million-transistor BCM1400 consumes 25W at 1GHz. However, Broadcom is not supplying compilers to aid the programming of its four-core part.

- Rick Merritt

EE Times

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