IBM clone is second threat to DSP king

IBM clone is second threat to DSP king
David Manners Texas Instruments’ (TI) domination of the DSP market came under a second threat last week – from IBM. IBM announced that it had developed a proprietary, ‘clean-room’ clone of the TI C54X DSP. IBM will sell it as an Asic core which is compliant with the TI part, and as a discrete DSP chip which is pin-for-pin compatible with TI’s parts. It is the second threat to TI’s position as DSP market leader within a week after Lucent Technologies and Motorola joined forces behind a joint rival DSP architecture to TI’s. So the DSP market is beginning to parallel the computer CPU market in that competitors are combining behind a common rival architecture (like PowerPC) with the Motorola/Lucent deal, and now there’s a cloner. The C54X is a dominant DSP chip. It has been sold into 50 million pagers and mobile telephones, according to TI’s Jean-Marc Darchy. TI had 33.7 per cent of the overall $3.6bn DSP market last year, according to Dataquest. IBM’s clone C54X is made in 0.25?m technology. The discrete processor is already in production; it will be possible to design using the Asic C54X core as from the third quarter. Nominal performance is 85 million instructions per second (Mips) with the discrete chip running at 40MHz off 1.65V and 55MHz off 2.3V, while the core runs at 50MHz off 1.65V and 65MHz at 2.3V. Power/performance ratings are 0.45mA/Mip at 2.5V for the chip and 0.3mA/Mip at 1.8V for the core. IBM says it will migrate the chip to its copper-based process which will, when mature, improve performance and cost by between 10 and 20 per cent. See InsideView


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