| LONDON — Processor licensing company ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) has begun work on a processor core called Serval-E, which is based on the same instruction set architecture as the company's top-of-the-range work-in-progress codenamed Tiger. |
The existence of the processor and that ARM has signed up one licensee for the Serval-E processor, was revealed revealed during presentations made to financial analysts on the company's fourth quarter 2004 results.
The analyst's presentation shows Serval-E on a road-map style chart alongside Tiger with both marked as being members of the ARMv7 instruction set architecture.
Such road-map charts typically indicate performance on the y-axis and time on the x-axis. However, on that basis Serval-E is set to appear before Tiger and indeed before any members of the ARM10 and ARM11 families.
Warren East, chief executive officer, and Simon Segars, executive vice president of worldwide sales, declined to answer questions about the Serval-E put to them by Silicon Strategies.
Tiger has been in design for about 21 months as a superscalar machine targeted at the 65-nm manufacturing process node, although it will probably come out in a 90-nm process first. At the same time it is intended to let ARM break through the gigahertz clock frequency threshold that has until now has been the preserve of PC and server microprocessors (see Oct. 19, 2005, story). During presentations Wednesday (Jan. 26) East characterized Tiger as having a performance of 1000 dhrystone MIPS. The roadmap chart, as it best could be read, showed Serval-E being only slightly inferior in performance to the Tiger processor and with superior performance to all ARM's other processor cores and derived chips.
The order in which Serval-E is and Tiger appear on the chart, which could be found here when this story was first posted, could be perplexing, with Serval-E appearing ahead of Tiger which has been in development for nearly two years.
Segars and Warren both said that Tiger development in Austin, Texas, was going well with deliverables expected to ship to one or more of the processors three licensees during the first quarter of 2005. Segars said that one thing that the Austin team was doing was developing a high-level model of Tiger using Axys design tools.
One possibility is that Serval-E is a derivative of Tiger that has been created recently in response to a licensee's request for a different optimization of resources within the overall architecture, an observer said. The name might suggest that Serval-E is being optimized for server-side deployment, while Tiger is being aimed at multimedia processing clients, he added.
The serval is a medium-sized wild cat with the appearance of a miniature cheetah.