LONDON Though delayed, Intel Corp. is within days of obtaining first silicon for its second-generation StrongARM processor, which will be formally introduced next month. The SA-2 processor is the first StrongARM designed by Intel, and is being built in 0.18-micron CMOS. It is expected to pack up to 5,000 Dhrystone Mips/watt and will run on as little as three-quarters of a volt of power.
Mark Casey, marketing director for Intel's handheld computing division, said the SA-2 processors had been scheduled to sample in the second quarter, but instead will arrive in the second half. Casey attributed the delay to "internal development reasons."
The company will demonstrate an SA-2-based chip at the Intel Developer Forum, to be held Aug. 22 to 24 at the San Jose (Calif.) Convention Center.
In a presentation last year, Intel predicted the SA-2 would run at a 600-MHz clock frequency at 1.3 V while providing a performance of 750 Mips (Dhrystone 2.1) at 450-mW power consumption, but scale back to 150 MHz at 0.75 V while providing 185 Mips at 40 mW.
Casey said the SA-2 was not delayed by problems with the process technology. Instead, he said, Intel had put more time into verifying the design. "We did spend a lot of time in pre-silicon activities. But we've booted a number of operating systems both in software simulation and in hardware emulation so we're confident that the silicon will work," he said. .
Intel is thought to have a design team based in Austin, Texas, working on the SA-3 StrongARM core as well as application-specific standard products based on the SA-2.
Intel is also working with Mitsubishi on a chip set for third-generation mobile communications that is expected to include StrongARM technology.
Intel current StrongARM processors, the SA-1100 and SA-1500, are based on the SA-1 core. All of these circuit designs were inherited in Intel's acquisition of Digital Equipment Corp.'s semiconductor operations in May 1998.
That makes the SA-2 the first StrongARM core designed by Intel. This has been done under an architectural license from ARM Ltd. (Cambridge, England).