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Intel targets new “XScale” CPU core at mobile and Internet apps

Aug 23, 2000 — by Rick Lehrbaum — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

At the Intel Developers Forum conference in San Jose, CA, Intel today announced XScale, an embedded microprocessor architecture derived from StrongARM technology. Relative to StrongARM, XScale will boast significantly increased speed (approaching 1 GHz), substantially reduced power consumption (down to 0.0001W), and will incorporate a number of new technologies that optimize its use in tomorrow's mobile,… wireless, and Internet infrastructure applications.

Intel will use the new XScale microarchitecture as the processor “core” for a family of upcoming embedded processors that are likely to integrate a large number of on-chip system functions, in a manner similar to Intel's StrongARM system-on-chip devices such as the SA-1110 (info).

Like the existing StrongARM processors, the new XScale core based processors will be supported by multiple suppliers of Embedded Linux. Specifically, Intel says the Intel XScale microarchitecture development platforms will contain the GNU toolchains from Red Hat, including compiler, assembler, linker, debugger, and monitor software. Additionally, according to Intel, Embedded Linux implementations optimized for XScale will be available from both LinuxWorks and MontaVista.

Here are some pointers to further details on the new XScale microarchitecture:

Here is today's news announcement from Intel regarding the XScale microarchitecture . . .

Intel Announces New Microarchitecture For Wireless And Internet Infrastructure Applications

Intel XScale Microarchitecture Provides Flexibility for Low Power, High Performance Devices and Systems

San Jose, CA — August 23, 2000 — Intel Corporation today introduced a new chip microarchitecture designed to benefit a wide variety of wireless Internet and networking infrastructure applications. Called the Intel XScale microarchitecture, it has the flexibility to handle requirements for both ultra-low power and high performance in devices ranging from Internet-ready cell phones to Internet infrastructure equipment.

Building on Intel StrongARM technology, the Intel XScale microarchitecture core is manufactured on Intel's advanced 0.18-micron process technology. It offers low power operation ranging from one ten-thousandth of a watt to 1.6 watts, and performance that allows it to operate at clock speeds approaching 1 GHz. This lets the new microarchitecture meet the needs of a diverse set of Internet client devices as well as networking and storage equipment.

“The Intel XScale microarchitecture extends Intel's role as a building block supplier to the worldwide Internet economy,” said Ron Smith, vice president and general manager of Intel's Wireless Computing and Communications Group.

“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,” said Smith.

The Intel XScale microarchitecture can be used in a variety of communications market segments. According to Smith, handheld device manufacturers could use the Intel XScale core to build devices that combine personal management and calendar functions, wireless Internet access and wireless video.

The Intel XScale core can also increase the density, programmability and processing power of networking infrastructure manufacturers' next-generation infrastructure equipment, such as routers and switches. This capability provides Intel's networking and communications customers the ability easily to add new features and functions that help their products intelligently manage rich content applications.

Delivering Low Power and High Performance

Intel has enhanced the low power capabilities of the Intel XScale microarchitecture with Intel® Dynamic Voltage Management and Intel Media Processing Technology. Dynamic Voltage Management allows developers to scale the clock frequency and voltage dynamically to adjust performance to application needs, while maintaining battery life. Intel Media Processing Technology is a co-processor engine that enables more power-efficient multimedia processing for increasingly content-rich Internet applications.

The Intel XScale core includes extensions from the ARM architecture, such as ARM Thumb instructions to reduce code size and ARM media extensions to add digital signal processor (DSP) functionality. The Intel XScale core is compliant with version 5.0 of the ARM Architecture, enabling compatibility with operating systems, applications and tools.

Performance of the Intel XScale microarchitecture has been enhanced through Intel Superpipelined technology that results in high clock rates approaching 1 GHz.

“Intel expects to offer industry-leading capabilities for high performance with low power when we launch products using the Intel XScale core starting later this year,” Smith said.

The Intel XScale microarchitecture will be supported by various operating systems, including Microsoft Windows CE, VXWorks and IxWorks from WindRiver, EPOC from Symbian, and Embedded Linux from multiple vendors.

Intel Integrated Performance Primitives

To support the rapid development of applications for Intel StrongARM processors and the Intel XScale microarchitecture, Intel is also delivering Intel Integrated Performance Primitives (IPP) for Intel StrongARM, Intel XScale, and Intel IA-32 and IA-64 processors. Intel IPP enables software vendors, development tools vendors and original equipment manufacturers quickly to develop exciting new applications that can be ported rapidly to run on any Intel processor.

Related story:
Intel XScale lets developers be the boss

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