Intel launch microarchitecture for mobile devices

New XScale architecture features low power, high performance for wireless multimedia applications.

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By  Peter Conmy Published  August 28, 2000

Intel has unveiled a new mciroarchitecture that is specifically designed for wireless devices and Internet infrastructure applications.

The XScale microarchitecture, launched at the Intel Developer Forum in California, can handle both ultra-low power and high performance requirements.

Intel XScale is based on the StrongARM architecture, and is manufactured using 0.18 micron process technology.

The architecture is intended to be flexible enough to run at speeds of up to 1GHz with power requirements as low as one ten-thousandth of a watt.

Dynamic Voltage Management

Intel’s Dynamic Voltage Management technology means that the architecture can scale the clock frequency and voltage to suit the needs of the application that is being run.

Power functions are also enhanced with Intel Media Processing technology, that uses a co-processor engine to enable more power-efficient multimedia processing.

Performance of Intel XScale is improved by extensions to the ARM architecture which reduce code size and add digital signal processor (DSP) functionality (an integrated circuit designed for high-speed data manipulation).

Superpipelined technology gives further increases in performance to bring the microarchitecture closer to the 1GHz mark.

The performance profile of the architecture means that it will be suited to various applications in the communications market.

Low power requirements make it ideal for mobile devices, while the high performance, especially in terms of multimedia capabilities provided by DSP, mean that wireless Internet and wireless video will be tailored to.

The architecture will also be employed in network infrastructure equipment, where it can be used to improve handling of content rich applications for networking and communications.

'Building Block Supplier'

“The XScale microarchitecture extends Intel’s role as a building block supplier to the worldwide Internet economy,” said Ron Smith, general manager of wireless computing and communications group at Intel.

“The combination of very low power and high performance makes the Intel XScale microarchitecture well-suited for Internet access devices, such as handheld and portable applications where battery life is essential.

"The technology is also ideal for Internet infrastructure products such as network and I/O processors, where ultimate performance is critical for moving and processing large amounts of data quickly.”

Zero Compatibility Problems

Because it is compatible with version 5.0 of the ARM architecture, compatibility with operating systems and applications will not be a problem for XScale.

It is already supported by Windows CE, Symbian’s EPOC, and embedded Linux.

To further encourage application development, Intel will be providing ISVs and OEMs with Intel Integrated Performance Primitives (IPP), development tools for the XScale microarchitecture.

For further information see www.intel.com

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