IBM, LSI Unveil High-Performance, Energy-Efficient Embedded Processor

IBM officials say the PowerPC 476FP processing core will be the highest performing and most efficient embedded processor core in the industry. IBM is aiming the new processor core at SoC product families in such industries as communications, storage and defense. LSI also using the 476FP in developing a configurable L2 caches that is tightly coupled to the core. The announcement comes as Intel prepares to talk about "Jasper Forest," which will bring its "Nehalem" microarchitecture to the embedded space.

IBM is unveiling what officials say is the highest performing and most energy efficient embedded processor aimed at SoC (system-on-chip) products.

Developed in collaboration with LIS, IBM Sept. 15 announced the PowerPC 476FP processor core, aimed at SoC products in such sectors as storage, consumer devices, communications, aerospace and defense.

LSI will use the 476F PowerPC core in its upcoming multicore platform for networking applications.

The new processing core, which will be available to support designs starting in October, not only extends IBM's Power Architecture in traditional embedded applications, but also makes it a good choice for such products as infrastructure devices for 4G networks and WiMax deployments, according to IBM officials.

"This high-performance, power-efficient, compact processor core allows customers to meet the needs of today's applications, while preserving legacy code," Richard Busch, director of ASIC products for IBM, said in a statement.

That legacy support comes through the new core's compatibility with the current PowerPC 4xx family of processor cores. The 476FP will give a performance jump to those customers using the current cores.

The 476FP runs at frequencies of more than 1.6GHz and 2.5 Dhrystone MIPS (million instructions per second), which officials said makes its performance twice that of current processing cores being used by OEMs. It also dissipates 1.6 watts, making it among the most energy efficient embedded processor cores.

LSI is designing a configurable L2 memory cache that will be tightly coupled to the processor, which will help boost the 476FP's performance. The L2 cache will come in 256K, 512K and 1M configurations.

IBM and LSI officials will give details of the new processor core and L2 at the Linley Tech Processor Conference, which runs Sept. 16 and 17 in San Jose, Calif.

The embedded market is getting a lot of attention from chip makers. At the Intel Developer Forum Sept. 22-24 in San Francisco, Intel officials will talk about "Jasper Forest," a processor that will bring the chip maker's "Nehalem" microarchitecture into the embedded space.

Already Nehalem chips are available for high-end and mainstream PCs and for servers with two sockets, and soon will be available in servers with four sockets. Intel officials said it was important to being the quad-core processors to an embedded market that was worth about $1 billion in revenues to Intel in 2008.