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April 25, 1988

COMPUTER CONSOLES’ INGENIOUS RISC IS SPARC ABI COMPATIBLE

By CBR Staff Writer

The Computer Products Division of Computer Consoles Inc in Irvine, California yesterday lifted the veil on its two-year effort to develop a RISC processor to top off its Unix minicomputer line – and revealed that the new processor will be Applications Binary Interface-compatible with the Sun Sparc RISC, so that users will be able to transfer applications between the two without recompilation. The new processor, rated at 25 MIPS sustained, 40 MIPS peak with a 20nS cycle – that’s 50MHz – will be the basis of a Power 7/64 line to be announced late this year. According to chairman John Cunningham, We believe we are further down the design road than others who have already announced products or strategies, who adds that the new chip set, developed under a $20m three-year development effort, will let us achieve never-before-realised processing speeds at a price point never before attainable. The set consists of an instruction processor, a bus switch chip and interfaces to industry standard floating-point arithmetic processor chips. Performance Semiconductor – already a maker of the MIPS RISCs will fabricate the two proprietary chips in Sunnyvale in 1.2 micron CMOS, the more complex integrating 560,000 devices. A key feature of the set is on-chip instruction and data cache: in most RISC sets, separate cache chips are used. Computer Consoles has also gone for simpler and shorter instruction pipelines; wider horizontal instruction words – a standard 64-bit instruction word is used; and support of fast call and return instructions. The processor also features the chip equivalent of an eight-lane interstate highway – 512-bit internal data paths to on-chip cache, and a 64-bit system bus. Data blocks are also transferred to cache 256 bits at a time. A simple three-stage pipeline instruction fetch, instruction execute, register file write – is handled by hardware for extra speed. The processor is fundamentally 32-bit, with 32 32-bit general-purpose registers, and call and return and most other machine instructions execute in one cycle. Computer Consoles reckons the 7/64 will outperform the Sparc-based Sun 4/260 three-fold, and the biggest DEC uniprocessor, the VAX 8710, four- to six-fold. Multiprocessors are also planned and the single-board processor will come with up to 64Mb of memory. And despite having committed to the Sun Sparc, Computer Consoles’ two major OEM customers, ICL and Unisys will clearly have to consider the new box.

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