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Processor Watch

Best Extreme Processor: Xelerated X10q

February 23, 2004

Issue #171

Author: Tom R. Halfhill - Senior Editor

We have chosen Xelerated’s Xelerator X10q for the Microprocessor Report Analysts’ Choice Award as Best Extreme Processor of 2003. This award category was especially difficult to judge, because the processors are so radically different from each other and from conventional processors. We believe the Xelerator X10q deserves the award for both its extreme design, even by the standards of extreme processors, and its focused design, which doesn’t allow complexity to obscure its utility.

Although massively parallel processors are becoming almost commonplace—MPR covered several in 2003—the X10q steps forward with a massively pipelined architecture. This unusual approach is justified for a high-performance packet processor that performs repetitive tasks in serial fashion. For this application, a long, narrow architecture makes more sense than a wide architecture.

Even so, as logical as the design appears in retrospect, one must admire the moxie of a design team willing to lay a pipeline more than a thousand stages long. And with 200 identical VLIW processor cores, plus additional on-chip function units and resources, the X10q certainly isn’t statistically challenged when compared with other extreme processors, no matter what problems they’re intended to solve.

Microprocessor Report readers can access the full story here (2 pages/1 graphic): www.mdronline.com/mpr/h/2004/0209/180616.html. To find out more about Microprocessor Report, please visit: www.mdronline.com.

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