STM puts its 32-bit ST20 in top gear

STM puts its 32-bit ST20 in top gearSGS-Thomson Microelectronics thinks 1998 will be a bumper year for its 32-bit microprocessor, the ST20, writes Richard Ball. “We expect to overtake PowerPC this year,” said Mark Jones, marketing manager for 32 and 64-bit CPUs. ST20 shipped just over two million units last year, while PowerPC was nearer four million. Products targeted by ST20 include set-top boxes and smartcards. “We believe we’re the de facto standard in smartcards,” said Jones. In the long term, STM’s microprocessor needs will be filled not with a proprietary chip like the Transputer-based ST20, but with the SuperH architecture recently licensed from Hitachi. Hitachi’s SH-4 will be used by STM as the ST-40. After this the two companies are working together in an equal partnership, said Jones, to develop the SH-5/ST50 processor. “We are co-developing the new architecture. Work is underway for first samples in the year 2000,” he said. ST50 will include the technology developed for Chameleon, STM’s abandoned 64-bit multimedia processor. Thus it will mix the instruction set and power of the SuperH family with STM’s multimedia instructions.
Jones hopes to take the ST40/50 devices into new application areas. “Hitachi has traditionally been strong in games machines,” he said, while STM will push the processors into products such as set-top boxes.

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