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P.A. Semi Unveils Multicore Processor Family

Emerging from more than two years of stealth development, P.A. Semi today unveiled the PWRficient processor family, 64-bit multicore, scalable processor line based on the Power Architecture from IBM, that is claimed to deliver high performance at very low power consumption and offer up to a tenfold advantage in performance per watt over the industry.

The PWRficient processors address the high-performance embedded and computing markets. The system-on-chip architecture and design, underpinned by 50 patents filed and pending, delivers performance up to 2.5GHz per core at low power consumption. For example, the first PWRficient processor, a dual-core chip running at 2GHz, dissipates just 5-13 watts typical, depending upon the application.

PWRficient processors are also the first processors in their class to integrate what is typically a three- to five-chip-set platform into a single chip, called a "platform processor."

The first PWRficient chip, the PA6T-1682M, which dissipates between just 5-13 watts, depending upon the application, is a dual-core implementation running at 2GHz with two DDR2 memory controllers, 2MB of L2 cache, and a flexible I/O subsystem that supports eight PCI Express controllers, two 10 Gigabit Ethernet XAUI controllers, and four Gigabit Ethernet SGMII controllers sharing 24 serdes lanes. It will sample in the third calendar quarter of 2006, with single-core and quad-core versions due in early and late 2007, respectively, and an eight-core version planned for 2008.

The PWRficient family of platform processors is derived from a common set of fundamental architectural elements. A coherent, ordered crossbar called CONEXIUMTM interconnects multiple Power cores, L2 caches, memory controllers, and the ENVOITM I/O subsystem. ENVOI combines a set of configurable serdes lanes with a set of protocol controllers for such I/O standards as PCI Express, Gigabit Ethernet, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

These controllers share a bridge to CONEXIUM, as well as a set of centralized DMA channels, offload engines, and a coherent I/O cache. The architecture supports a variety of offload engines, including support for TCP/IP, iSCSI, cryptography (IPSec and SSL), and RAID. P.A. Semi also employs a scalable-socket plan, which provides several options for performance upgrades or cost reductions with little or no design effort. P. A. Semi defines a "socket" (package, pinout, and power envelope) by the number of memory controllers (up to four), the number of serdes I/O lanes (up to 32), and the supported system peripherals. Each socket supports several performance levels by varying the number of cores (up to eight on a chip) and the size of the L2 cache (up to 8MB). Within a socket definition, processors are tailored to different applications by adjusting the number and type of the high-speed I/O protocols (for example PCI Express, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, 1 Gigabit Ethernet, SATA/SAS, RapidIO, and Fibre Channel). Initial socket definitions include the "E" socket (entry), "M" socket (midrange), and "P" socket (performance). Customers can design to a specific socket, instead of a specific processor, to enable easy migration to compatible processors.

Source: P.A. Semi

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