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April 3, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

When it comes to number of design wins for embedded RISC, the Advanced RISC Machines Ltd ARM looks to be way ahead of the field, and this week, the Cambridge, UK chip designer and some of its partners have been giving details of how they intend to keep it that way. The first Network Computers designed by Oracle Corp for Internet access are powered by the ARM7500 family, which integrates an ARM processor core with video, sound and input- output in a single low-cost plastic package. The ARM7500 powers other Internet appliances such as the Webster from ViewCall America Inc, Easy Rider from Teknema Inc, NetSurfer from Acorn RISC Technologies Ltd and television set-top boxes from Online Media Ltd. This summer Advanced RISC will sample the ARM7500FE, claimed to offer enhanced three-dimensional graphics and Java performance by virtue of integrated floating point hardware and an increase in memory bandwidth. And next year, the ARM8500 is due: this will integrate a similar peripheral set as the ARM7500FE while more than doubling core CPU performance. Meanwhile VLSI Technology Inc has been talking about its plans for the ARM 810 RISC processor and ARM 8 ASIC functional system block, saying it aims to release design prototyping samples of the ARM 810 this summer, with ASICs integrating the ARM 8 ready for commercial production in the autumn. The ARM 8/810 takes the number of pipeline stages to five – fetch, read, arithmetic- logic, memory, write – from three, and requires 1.43 clock cycles per instruction on average, down from 1.76; it draws 500mW, the maximum for the 7/710, and the latter goes down to 0.15 Watts. It is a 3.3V only part and typically cycles at 72MHz, up from between 25MHz and 40MHz. It is rated at 84 Dhrystone MIPS, up from 36. The figures are for a 0.5 micron manufacturing process, but 0.35 micron is in the plan. ARM 810 samples are expected to cost $40, with volume falling to $30. And Sharp Electronics Corp’s System-on-Chip Business Unit announced the LH77790 embedded microcontroller using the ARM7DI core. The part is aimed at portable electronic devices such as point-of-sale terminals, two-dimensional barcode scanners, global positioning systems and communication devices. It has only a 16-bit data bus but 32-bit internal data bus, and includes 2Kb 32-bit wide cache with zero wait states. Sampling at the end of the month, with volume in October, it costs $29.50 for 1,000-up.

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