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ARM gains flashy new media processing instructions

Oct 5, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

ARM has developed a suite of media and signal processing instructions that will appear in future ARM processors targeting mobile consumer devices. ARM says its “Neon” technology offers flexible combinations of media processing, and will be supported by ARM and third-party tools, for broad industry adoption.

According to ARM, Neon technology is a 64/128-bit SIMD (single instruction multiple data) instruction set that supports video encode/decode, 3D graphics, speech processing, audio decoding, image processing, and baseband functionality. Neon features separate register files and independent execution hardware. It supports 8-, 16-, 32- and 64-bit integer operations, as well as single precision floating-point operations.

ARM claims that Neon technology can execute an MP3 audio decoder in less than 10 CPU MHz, or a GSM AMR (Adaptive Multi-Rate) speech codec in only 13 CPU MHz.

ARM says Neon's instruction set was designed in conjunction with vectorizing C compiler technology, and will be released with C compiler support. Neon is also a target of the OpenMAX APIs being defined by the Khronos group.

ARM expects Neon to be used alongside its OptimoDE data engine in many applications, including mobile handsets. Whereas Neon employs a fixed instruction set, OptimoDE implements configurable, application-specific VLIW instructions.

Mike Inglis, ARM's executive vice president of marketing, said, “[Neon] will deliver desktop-quality audio, video, and 3-D graphics using a solution that can be reprogrammed for changing industry standards.”

Paul Werp, director of cellular systems at Texas Instruments, said, “Neon can enable more applications to run on the ARM core, both cost- and power-effectively.”

Mike McCourt, with FreeScale's wireless group, said, “Freescale has been active in driving the OpenMAX initiative and endorsing the Neon technology strategy.”

Neon technology is the latest in a number of ARM core technologies targeting vertical markets, including TrustZone technology for data security, Jazelle technology for Java acceleration, and Intelligent Energy Manager for power management.

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