September 26, 2016
Samsung Unveils Custom M1 Core (MPR/MCR)
Taking a page from rival Qualcomm’s book, Samsung designed a custom ARM CPU for the Exynos 8890, its first smartphone processor to forgo using a standard Cortex core.
Phytium Samples 64-Core ARMv8 (MPR)
The Chinese startup is sampling its FT-2000/64—the world’s biggest ARM-compatible server processor—and disclosed 4- and 16-core ARM chips that are already in production.
Broadcom Redefines Gearbox Ports (NWR)
Broadcom is in early production with three PHYs that implement retiming beyond the original 4:10/10:4 gearbox function and provide extensions from the emerging Multi-Link Gearbox 2.0 standard.
Editorial: ADAS Opportunities Expand (MPR)
Despite the attention on self-driving cars, automotive-processor vendors will find that active-safety systems present a bigger and fast-growing opportunity over the next several years.
Low-End Exynos Moves to 14nm (MCR)
Taking sales from Qualcomm, Samsung has built a budget smartphone processor using its own 14nm FinFET process, integrating LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS functions.
Synopsys Debuts Secure ARC Cores (MPR)
Two new DesignWare cores improve security in IoT devices and embedded systems using features such as secure containers and countermeasures against side-channel attacks.
September 19, 2016
What’s Next for Broadband After DSL? (NWR)
Qualcomm has terminated its DSL business, thereby signaling a wired-broadband transition to G.fast and, in the longer term, to fixed wireless.
Oracle Sparc Accelerates Big Data (MPR)
Oracle’s recent Sparc processors integrate hardware acceleration for database software, big-data analytics, and security. They also enable compression of in-memory databases.
Sentons Channels Ultrasound Touch (MCR)
Using its Zero Deflection Force products, startup Sentons has delivered ultrasonic touch capability, which eases implantation of force touch as well as novel touch applications.
Editorial: Common PHY Standards Needed (NWR)
Fibre Channel and InfiniBand have both seen a longer lifespan in the data center than skeptics anticipated, but the justification for independent physical-layer standards to support these protocols is waning quickly.
September 12, 2016
Intel Takes Baby Step to Kaby Lake (MPR)
The initial release of Kaby Lake is limited to high-end notebook PCs and ultra-low-power products. The new 14nm+ technology boosts the CPU speed by 4–11%.
Vesper Mic Drops Under Water (MCR)
Using piezoelectric materials in a MEMS microphone, startup Vesper offers immunity from dust and liquids and better power consumption than traditional capacitive MEMS mics.
Intel Unveils Silicon-Photonics MSAs (NWR)
Intel has finally announced two 100Gbps silicon-photonics offerings for the data center: a parallel single-mode PSM4 module that’s in production and a CWDM4 module that’s in early sampling.
September 5, 2016
IBM Power9 Scales Up and Out (MPR)
IBM’s next-generation Power9 server processors are branching out into four initial designs. In addition to having 12 or 24 cores, the scale-up versions will use external memory buffers, and the scale-out versions will integrate DRAM controllers.
NVMe Seeks Best Fabric Fit (NWR)
Several vendors have recently demonstrated applications based on the NVM Express over Fabrics standard. Adherence to standards, however, doesn’t always result in compatibility.
Bluetooth 5 Boosts Range, Capacity (MPR/MCR)
Bluetooth 5 will enable greater range or lower power, add improvements to beacon mode, and set the stage for inclusion of mesh networking.
August 29, 2016
AMD Finds Zen in Microarchitecture (MPR)
Providing a fresh start for AMD’s computing ambitions, Zen offers 40% better performance than the prior generation and is the company’s first CPU in a FinFET node.
MaxLinear Completes Backhaul Design (NWR)
MaxLinear is sampling its first single-chip microwave-backhaul radio. Modjeska (MxL110X) works with a modem chip that came from the company’s recent acquisition of Broadcom’s wireless-backhaul business.
Editorial: The Post-Smartphone Market (MPR/MCR)
As smartphone growth nears zero, chip companies are turning their attention, and their engineering resources, toward emerging markets such as IoT, wearables, and autonomous cars.
August 22, 2016
Akoustis Challenges Broadcom FBAR (MCR)
A startup company is using a new single-crystal manufacturing process to build RF filters for the LTE high band. It claims these filters will surpass the industry leader’s performance.
Comms Semis Look Beyond M&A (NWR)
Consolidation has left a stronger field of IC vendors in networking and communications. The leaders will benefit from an improving market in 2016.
EEMBC Upgrades Auto Benchmarks (MPR)
The leading provider of embedded-processor benchmarks has added multithreading, larger data sets, and other features to its popular AutoBench suite for automotive and industrial processors.
August 15, 2016
Chelsio’s Terminator Takes on 100GbE (NWR)
Chelsio Communications’ new T6 controller chip handles new 25/50/100G Ethernet speeds while also adding encryption-offload hardware. In storage targets, it faces QLogic’s “Big Bear,” which will soon be a Cavium offering.
FD-SOI Offers Alternative to FinFET (MPR)
A new version of SOI technology from GlobalFoundries provides an alternative to the expensive wafers and difficult design rules of advanced FinFET processes.
Snapdragon 820 Adds 1 (MCR)
Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 821 processor, debuting in the Asus ZenFone 3 Deluxe, offers a modest speed boost but still delivers the best performance of any mobile device.
August 8, 2016
Barefoot’s Tofino Gives P4 a Test Spin (NWR)
Programmable-data-plane startup Barefoot Networks has disclosed more details of its Tofino 6.5Tbps switch chip, which customers can program using the open P4 language.
VeriSilicon VIP8000 Accelerates CNNs (MPR)
A licensable core for native OpenCL vision processing that is based on Vivante GPU technology, the VIP8000 targets automotive and consumer products.
U.S. Government Acts on 5G (NWR/MCR)
The FCC has allocated 11GHz of millimeter-wave spectrum for 5G in the U.S., and Verizon has defined its own pre-5G radio with plans for broadband deployment next year.
August 1, 2016
SiFive Offers RISC-V Platforms (MPR)
A startup founded by the creators of the RISC-V instruction set aims to reduce the cost of ASIC development by designing and selling custom chips based on open-source CPU cores.
Ceva X2 Controls Multiple PHYs (MPR/MCR)
Ceva’s new X2 DSP performs physical-layer (PHY) control in complex wireless modems such as LTE-Advanced, which requires control of multiple communications channels.
Fusion G3 Beefs Up Floating Point (MPR/MCR)
Cadence has developed the Fusion G3 DSP to target mobile and consumer applications, offering up to four times the performance of its Fusion F1.
RapidIO’s 25xN Follows Serdes Trend (NWR)
The release of the 100Gbps RapidIO 25xN specification represents a shift toward broader use of 25Gbps lanes over short distances, matching that speed’s popularity in networking.
July 25, 2016
Polaris Revitalizes AMD GPUs (MPR)
AMD’s 14nm Polaris architecture combines intelligent rasterization, quality of service, and novel circuit designs to nearly double performance per watt in the new Radeon RX 480.
Auto-to-Auto Comms Still in First Gear (NWR)
Even as deployments of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications begin, the 802.11p Wi-Fi standard is facing a new challenge from the LTE-based Cellular V2X.
SkyOne Ultra Simplifies LTE Design (MCR)
Skyworks latest RF front-end modules integrate a complete transmit and receive path. They appear in the high-end Huawei P9 smartphone and could move to lower-cost phones as well.
Editorial: Intel Extends Server Control (MPR)
Initiatives such as XPoint memory and RSA give Intel more control of the server platform even to the rack level, improving its profits but hobbling its customers.
Guest Commentary: Be a HW and SW Engineer (MPR)
As the slowdown in Moore’s Law constrains hardware performance, software and hardware engineers must better understand each other’s disciplines to optimize performance.
ARM Hatching 4K Video Egil (MPR/MCR)
ARM is developing a new video core, code-named Egil, that includes enhanced HEVC (H.265) support as well as the ability to encode and decode Google’s VP9 format.
July 18, 2016
Decawave Steers Impulse UWB to IoT (NWR)
Impulse-based ultrawideband radio, once an afterthought to the multiband version of the 802.15.4 WPAN standard, may find applications beyond real-time location services (RTLS). Decawave is a pioneering vendor.
Andes N650 Targets Low-Power IoT (MPR)
Andes has developed a low-power area-efficient CPU core, the 32-bit N650, that further extends the low end of its lineup to target IoT clients with very low power requirements.
Bosch Shrinks Nine-Axis Sensor (MCR)
Bosch has delivered one of the smallest nine-axis sensors to date, purpose built for wearables. It even includes a state machine that can timestamp and buffer sensor data.
July 11, 2016
Skyworks Extends Antenna Tuners (MCR)
The new SKY1925x family of switches improves both on-resistance and off-capacitance compared with the previous generation, providing antenna-tuning options across all LTE bands.
Xeon Phi 7200 Boots Up for HPC (MPR)
The initial Knights Landing products are now in production, delivering 3Tflop/s of double-precision performance with up to four times the power efficiency of Xeon E5.
In Memoriam: Michael Slater, Microprocessor Guru (MPR)
Michael Slater, founder of this newsletter as well as a friend and mentor to many of our staff, has passed away at the age of 60.
Editorial: Decoding Cavium’s QLogic (NWR)
Cavium is bringing a chip-vendor mentality to its turnaround plans for QLogic. Increased profitability is almost inevitable, but hitting growth targets will be a challenge.
Qualcomm’s GigaDSL Uses FDD (NWR)
Qualcomm has introduced new products from its 2015 acquisition of DSL specialist Ikanos. The QCO5700 for multiple-dwelling units and QCM5720 for customer premises equipment implement a frequency-division-duplex derivative of G.fast.
July 4, 2016
ConnectX-5 Targets HPC Co-Design (NWR)
The new Mellanox InfiniBand adapter is optimized for HPC co-design, which involves development of clustered multicore hardware in close association with simulated HPC applications known as mini-apps.
Broadwell Accelerates the DPDK (MPR/NWR)
Intel Xeon processors are improving their networking performance through better hardware and better software—in particular, the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK). Other vendors are following suit by adapting the DPDK to their processors.