Rick Merritt, EE Times(12/10/2007 9:00 AM EST)
Advanced Micro Devices and Intel are ramping up system- on-chip capabilities, creating new products and processes. Although both companies will continue to design high-end custom microprocessors, increasingly their competition will hinge on how well they assemble chips out of a stock of reusable cores.
In just the last quarter, Intel Corp. formally created a system-on-chip (SoC) enablement group under Gadi Singer, who has led many high-profile projects for the company. AMD could have a slight edge, claiming it started work more than three years ago on cores and design flows aimed at reuse.
Driving the trend is the shift from large, power-hungry CPUs to multicore processors. Intel and AMD are also gunning for a range of sockets outside their traditional PC markets, many of them in consumer markets.
"Every major element being developed going forward will be done in a way that makes it reusable," said Singer, who led Intel's efforts on its Pentium, Itanium and cellular processors and has been head of design automation software at the company. "We are defining practices, flows and architectures that will allow plug-and-play across all Intel products," he said of the new group.
Intel is not disclosing the group's head count or budget, but said that its mandate includes defining interconnects and test standards for silicon blocks and system-in-package devices. Singer and others noted that making the SoC shift will not be easy for a company with a long heritage of custom design at the circuit level aiming at top performance.
Click here to read more ...