Agere Systems Delivers Custom Microchip with Largest Number of ARM Processors Ever Integrated into a Single Chip
MAY 29, 2003 - ALLENTOWN, Pa.-- Agere Systems (NYSE: AGR.A, AGR.B) today announced a significant technological achievement by integrating more ARM® processors in a single microchip than any other semiconductor provider. Agere combined eight ARM966E-S™ processor cores to provide a highly integrated custom solution, providing four times more processing power than typical chips. By integrating eight cores on a single device, Agere is able to provide customers four times the processing power on a single device, reducing costs and improving time to market. The application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) is in full production today.
Most integrated circuit devices using ARM processors in the market today integrate only one or two ARM cores. By integrating eight cores, Agere is able to meet the demand for a significantly higher level of processing power. Agere is delivering the ASIC to a leading wireless base station provider.
"Multi-core approaches to system requirements demanding high performance control processing, are becoming increasingly compelling. The integration of this many ARM966E-S cores onto a single ASIC is an impressive achievement from Agere and demonstrates the true flexibility of the ARM architecture and AMBA™ bus infrastructure," said John Rayfield, VP, US Marketing, ARM. "Agere's success in designing this complex ASIC for their client was made easier through the use of the powerful ARM modeling technologies available from ARM and our EDA Partners. These powerful tools enabled Agere with faster time-to-market and first-pass success."
Agere is the No. 2 provider of ICs for wireless infrastructure equipment and moved up in the most recent rankings for wireless communications ASICs, according to Gartner Dataquest. The company has an industry-leading portfolio of communications intellectual property (IP) that allows Agere to provide either standard digital signal processors (DSPs) or custom ASICs for any customer requirement. This chip was a custom ASIC providing DSP functionality using the customer's proprietary design.
"We were able to leverage our system-level expertise, broad IP and leading design methodologies to deliver this highly integrated and complex system-on-a-chip (SoC). Agere's ability to integrate multiple ARM processors and IP with customer designed logic in complex SoCs is one of the strengths that sets us apart in the industry. This achievement is possible as a result of the expertise of the outstanding Agere design team that has the unique skills to deliver these extraordinary solutions for our customers," said Necip Sayiner, vice president of Agere's Networking IC business. "With these capabilities, and an outstanding design team, we are strongly positioned to deliver complex ASICs for our customers more quickly and cost effectively."
Agere designed and verified each ARM core on the 0.16 micron device as a subsystem, which was integrated into the customer's proprietary ASIC architecture. The ARM core included 52 kilobytes (kb) of instruction memory, 20 kb of data memory and 16 kb of dual port memory for data transfer. The AMBA subsystems included the bridges and memory systems. The ASIC is being shipped to a leading provider of wireless communications systems for the company's third-generation (3G) wireless infrastructure equipment. Agere's experience in providing multi-core architectures such as this is important for equipment providers looking for a custom entry into the 3G infrastructure market. The company also has a variety of SoC programs in 0.13 micron technology integrating ARM cores for applications such as wireless access and storage area networking.
The primary technical challenge for the design team to solve was working out how the eight cores talk to each other across the device. Setting up the precise timing so all the cores performed their functions at precisely the right time was critical. Other challenges included debugging the device, setting up power management so the device used as little power as possible, and making the cores fit in the appropriate space.
"Because no one had ever designed a chip with this many ARM9™ family cores before, we were pushing the envelope of the tools and technology available to solve our customer's requirements for this chip," Sayiner said. "This was new territory, so new SoC design flows were developed to complete this design. We also pushed the limits of 0.16 micron process technology."
In its standard SoC design flows, Agere has developed a unique strategy to solve signal integrity issues in complex microchip designs such as this. Agere's success in producing this device came as a result of Agere's leading signal integrity solutions.
The ARM966E-S macrocell is a fully synthesizable 32-bit RISC core aimed specifically at embedded hard real-time applications. The core features an enhanced 16 x 32-bit multiplier capable of single cycle MAC operations, and 16-bit fixed point DSP instructions to accelerate signal processing algorithms and applications.
Agere Systems is a premier provider of advanced integrated circuit solutions for wireless data, high-density storage and multiservice networking applications. Agere's wireless data portfolio enables seamless network access and Internet connectivity through its GPRS offering for data-capable cellular phones, as well as Wi-Fi/802.11 solutions for wireless LANs and computing applications. The company is the market leader in providing integrated circuits such as read-channel chips, preamplifiers and system-on-a-chip solutions for high-density storage applications. Agere also provides custom and standard multiservice networking solutions to move information across wired, wireless and enterprise networks. Agere's customers include the leading PC manufacturers, wireless terminal providers, network equipment suppliers and hard-disk drive providers. More information about Agere Systems is available from its web site at www.agere.com.
Agere's Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains forward-looking statements based on information available to Agere as of the date hereof. Agere's actual results could differ materially from the results stated or implied by such forward-looking statements due to a number of risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, satisfactory outcome of our union contract negotiations, the impact of any global or regional health epidemic such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, keeping pace with technological change, dependence on new product development, price and product competition, availability of manufacturing capacity, customer demand for our products and services, general industry and market conditions, timely completion of employment reductions and other restructuring and consolidation activities, limits on our ability to issue equity to raise capital and reliance on major customers and suppliers. For a further discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties, see our annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2002, and our quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the period ended March 31, 2003. Agere disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
ARM is a registered trademark of ARM Limited. ARM9, ARM966E-S and AMBA are trademarks of ARM Limited. ARM is used to represent ARM Holdings plc (LSE: ARM and Nasdaq: ARMHY); its operating company ARM Limited; and the regional subsidiaries ARM, INC.; ARM KK; ARM Korea Ltd.; ARM Taiwan; ARM France SAS; and ARM Consulting (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. AIEC is a registered trademark of AIEC. All other brands or product names are the property of their respective holders.
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