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NetLogic-RMI preps for multicore battle

Posted: 07 Jul 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:multicore? processor? embedded? network?

High risk
But perhaps NetLogic's biggest risk is the acquisition of RMI, which was founded in 2002. In 2005, Raza Microelectronics Inc., a fabless startup founded by Atiq Raza, formerly president and chief operating officer of Advanced Micro Devices Inc., emerged and launched two processor chips aimed at networking applications.

In 2007, RMI named Behrooz Abdi, a former executive from Qualcomm Inc., as president and CEO. Abdi succeeded Raza.

In recent weeks, RMI rolled out its most ambitious designthe superscalar XLP processor, based on MIPS Technologies Inc.'s MIPS64 MPU. Based on a 40nm technology from TSMC, the processor includes a multithreaded processor core with out-of-order processing capabilities. The core operates at greater than 2GHz.

The XLP features up to eight EC4400 processor cores operating at 500MHz, up to greater than 2GHz. It also has a high-performance memory subsystem and a tri-level processor cache architecture. Applications for the design include wired and wireless security, networking, storage, data center acceleration and load balancing.

RMI also announced last week a performance breakthrough across its existing XLR and XLS processor families. This breakthrough allows the processor families to achieve processing speeds up to 1.5GHz for enterprise and infrastructure applications.

RMI is one of several players in the emerging but competitive embedded multicore processor segment. In fact, it competes against much bigger companies such as Freescale and Intel.

The smaller RMI faces some challenges amid the current IC downturn, namely to remain a standalone entity and support its new XLP design. "We could have waited for the IPO market to come back," Abdi said. "We had a number of choices."

Going the venture capital route appeared difficult for RMI. The venture capital market has basically dried up. And funding the XLP requires a significant investment to devise and scale, especially a design targeted for the expensive and costly 40nm node.

So, RMI made a strategicif not possibly a forceddecision to get acquired by NetLogic. In any case, NetLogic's Jankov said that RMI's lines are complementary to those from NetLogic. "We have the same customers," he said. "It gives us a complete solution" in various applications.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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