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July 18, 1991

QUEEN’s BELFAST CLAIMS SIGNAL PROCESSOR CHIP BREAKTHROUGH

By CBR Staff Writer

A signal processing chip capable of 250 GFLOPS – up to 10 times faster than current parts – is being claimed by the IFI Institute of Advanced Microelectronics at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The new device is described as a CMOS Infinite Impulse Response filter and is pitched at communications systems, high definition television, aerospace and radar and the design is claimed to make it possible to use digital techniques for filtering at much higher frequencies than has been possible up to now; the characteristics of the filter can be changed adaptively, while in use in an application and 10 of the chips have been fabricated at VLSI Technology Inc’s San Jose foundry. The work was part funded by the UK Science & Engineering Research Council and Northern Telecom (Northern Ireland) Ltd. The patented techniques overcome what was perceived until recently as a fundamental limitation in high-speed numerical computation – how to speed recursive calculations, in which the result of a previous calculation is needed before the next one can proceed, and the Queen’s University team realised that the limitation was imposed by the fact that people started computations with the least significant bit first: by simple reversing the bit ordering and passing the most significant number result back before the sum is completed, using the redundant number system technique, the next calculation could be started before the first was finished. Queen’s University and the researchers have established a separate company, Integrated Silicon Systems Ltd to sell the devices and others developed at the university on a commercial basis; it will also license the designs to other firms.

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