January 30th, 2009 ~ by admin
As I am sure everyone has seen, the semiconductor industry is far from immune to the current economic recession (dare I say depression. Analysts are now saying the 2009 chip market will falls from 20-30%, and suppliers (wafers, imaging, scanners, mask sets etc) will be down over 40%.
The chip market will likely rebound some in 2010, but mainly correcting from overcautios cuts this year (we hope). The interesting part is the difference in cuts from chip makers, to their equipment suppliers. What this typically means is that semiconductor companies expect to continue using their existing equipment, ie no process improvements/shrinks any time soon. This helps avoid large capital costs, while preserving some revenue stream.
In other news, there will be A LOT of excess fab space this year.
January 26th, 2009 ~ by admin
Automotive computing in manyways is similar to your personal computer, and the same inherent problems. On your PC it is good to have the OS isolated from the normal applications (especially the internet browser). Same thing in your car, you do not want the navigation and media player functions to be able to interfere or crash the control computer. This is why most cars have DOZENS of computers. Renesas has just announced the SH7776, a dual SH-4A cored CPU. One core for the information systems, and one for the control systems. They share a common memory set, but it is segmented to prevent any problems. Each core runs at a whopping 533MHz and can output almost 2000 MIPS.
Clearly thats not enough for Renesas, they through in a graphics core too, a PowerVR core with 3D Rendering.
Source: EEProduct Center
January 21st, 2009 ~ by admin
Marvell, well known for its networking chips, also makes many storage controller solutions and other SoC’s. Marvell currently has two ARM cored lines, the Xscale series (purchased from Intel a year ago) and the Feroceon, a customized ARM core developed by Marvell (they actually have a complete ARM architecture liscense which gives them the ability to design ARM cores beyond the premade IP blocks)
This 88F5182 is a 400MHz processor that I found in a Lacie NAS drive. It has 64K of L1 cache and supports 200MHz DDR2 RAM (64MB of which was included in this Lacie drive)
Really a pretty impressive device for a networked storage device.
January 20th, 2009 ~ by admin
LSI developped their Fuision-MPT line of SCSI controller (U320 and fibre channel) back in 2001. Well before ‘dual core cpus’ hit mainstream. Continuing from the last post, and found on the same PowerEdge motherboard is an LSI53C1030 Fusion-MPT SCSI controller. This one was made in 2004, and has not one, nor two, but THREE ARM966E-S 32bit cores on it.
Fusion-MPT ARM9 Tri-core by LSI
No idea of the clock speed of the cores, but at 0.18u the cores are good for 200MHz and 250MHz at 0.13u. The chips system clock is sourced by an 80MHz
January 19th, 2009 ~ by admin
In 2002 Intel released a new dedicated I/O processor called the 80303, part of the IOP3xx series. It was meant to replace the i960RN series for use in RAID controllers etc, and runs at 100MHz. As far as I can tell the 80303 is an enhancement of the i960 procecessor, it was quickly replaced by a XScale series device (IOP8034X) This particular one was found on the main board of a Dell PowerEdge 2600 dual Xeon server.
Update: I found a datasheet for this, its core is an i960JT running at 100MHz
Intel IOP303 Processor.
January 16th, 2009 ~ by admin
Today while browsing the teardown section on Embedded.com I came across an article about a Kodak picture frame. At its heart was a processor by a company called Amlogic. They make among other things, processors for digital picture frames. Their website doesnt have much more info about their products. It appears many of their devices are based on a variety of ARM cores (as often is the case.
If anyone knows anything more about this company, or its interesting processors, let us know
January 15th, 2009 ~ by admin
Today I found my bosses old Dell All-In-One printer, kicked to the curb for operation that cannot be considered flawless. Yanked it apart wand what did we find? Alas a chip by Oasis (no sorry not the band) but Oasis Semiconductor, ironically with their URL marked on the chip:
Oasis? Never heard of them, so I did some research. Oasis was on the forefront of supplying IC’s for the then (late 1990′s) emerging market of All-in-One printers. The DigiColor2 has an ARM core, and a MCS-51 MCU at its heart, integrating nearly all of the functions to run a printer, scanner, copier and fax.
This turned out to be a great business, so much so that SigmaTel decided to buy them out for $57 million in 2005. SigmaTel of course famouse for being the main IC supplier for Apple iPods for many years (until the latest generation) SigmaTel itself has now been bought out by Freescale.
January 13th, 2009 ~ by admin
When you think of multi-core CPU’s what comes to mind? Intel? AMD? Perhaps Nvidia, but certainly not TI.
Alas though, the embedded CPU/MCU market is by far the largest user of multicore CPU’s. Many systems controllers have an ARM main core, and then a MCS-51 core for IO stuff, or another ARM core. The iPhone has no less then 3 ARM cores in it.
TI just released the MSP430FE42X2, in large quantities its a mere $1 US. It includes 2 complete MSP430 cores, along with an LCD driver, and 32K of Flash. Where will you find it? Its marketed as a complete power meter solution, only other component needed to measure your houses power draw is a voltage regulator.
MSP430 Power Meter
The future of embedded computing IS multi-core controllers/ASICs
Source: TI (Texas Instruments)
January 13th, 2009 ~ by admin
Intel…err Marvel, who bought the Xscale line FROM Intel has just released the latest in the Xscale line up. The PXA168 wich is an ARM9 core with all the toppings (Ethernet, flash interface, USB etc). Built on a 55nm process it achieves speeds of up to 1GHz while pulling merely 1Watt of power.
Whats it for? “Web connected digital photo frames” says Marvell
Thats an incredible amount of CPU for a picture frame but it is the direction things are going. CPU’s like this are making coding much faster and easier, your embedded code can be very bloated, and inefficient, which equals faster development cycles and quicker profits.
January 12th, 2009 ~ by admin
Today I got a not so old (2006) Infocus IN24 projector. It had bit the dust due to corrosion from the warm salty air in Maui.
What did I find inside? besides some amazingly cool optics, and power components, there was a large TI DLP Processor, specifically the DDP2000, a rather large BGA chip, that integrates most of the projectors functions as well as a DSP core, and a ARM 946 CPU core. running at 120MHz, good enough for 800×600 resolution.
Processor is the one marked DLP, bare die is a SRAM, far right is the DLP mirror, imaging chip (just layed on the board for your viewing)
Ti DLP ARM CPU and Sensor