Tokyo, February 9, 2005 -
-- NEC Corporation (NASDAQ: NIPNY) (FTSE: 6701q.l) and NEC Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) today announced the development of a multicore-based system LSI platform toward the upcoming ubiquitous networked society. This technology enables handling of a variety of software, just as PCs with high-performance and low-power capabilities can, and makes it possible to create robust terminals that can offset the breakdown and malfunction resulting from software flaws and other causes. Hardware architecture of this research will be presented at the International Solid-State Circuit Conference (ISSCC) 2005 in San Francisco from February 7 through 9.
The most important requirements of terminals used in a ubiquitous networked environment, such as mobile handsets, in-car terminals, and information-appliance terminals, are considered to be high performance, low power and the ease of expanding functionality, as such terminals will make more advanced applications possible and are expected to be diversified. In addition, security issues arising from computer viruses and other attacks are of utmost concern when creating an environment in which Internet access is possible anywhere and anytime.
Although the parallel processor technology with multiple central processing units (CPUs) is well known as a possibility for high-performance, low-power system LSI platform, it has hardly been applied to ubiquitous terminals due to the difficulty of porting existing software from single-core-based platforms and performance saturation of buses accessed from multiple cores.
NEC's newly developed "Virtual Software Technology" makes the multicore-based system LSI platform applicable to ubiquitous terminals and also makes it easy to expand functionality of the terminals. The development of high-performance bus-circuit technology enables a significant reduction in the congestion of buses linking multiple CPUs. Furthermore, the level of security is improved by assigning a separate CPU to handle applications acquired from the Internet. With the multicore-based system LSI platform containing these technologies, NEC believes that it can create ubiquitous terminals that have the same level of functionality and performance as PCs but which also boast the robustness required to prevent against cyber-terrorism and viruses.
The following main three technologies enabled the development of NEC's and NEC Electronics' multicore-based system LSI platform:
(1) Multicore Virtual Software Technology
This software technology enables existing systems to be ported on multiple CPUs without modifying application software. Accordingly, the use of parallel processor technology in ubiquitous terminals is made possible. With the virtual software technology, the parallel processor technology possesses the following three merits:
- Scalability: Since this platform does not assume the number of CPUs under the abstraction software, a variety of terminals can be developed from low to high end based on this platform.
- Easy addition of values: Once a basic terminal is developed on a CPU, value-added terminals are created by placing designated applications (e.g. business applications) on other CPUs. The single-terminal image is still maintained, making it easy to expand the functionality of value-added terminals. The use of multiple CPUs greatly reduces performance interference from applications added to other applications such as basic terminal features, video and audio even when the added application requires a heavy CPU load.
- High-performance execution of applications: Even a single application such as speech recognition achieves high-performance and low-power execution when the application consists of sub-applications that are executed concurrently. (Note 1)
(2) Multicore-Based High-Performance Hardware Technology
The conventional multicore architecture has a problem of limiting its performance when data access is made from multiple processors. The newly developed "Quad Bus Interface Circuit" significantly decreases congestion of access from multiple processors. This circuit was applied to the MP211 system LSI device (Note 2) for mobile phones and proved that the degradation of performance due to congestion does not occur even with heavily loaded digital TV broadcasting service for mobile phones that deals with tenfold data accesses.
(3) Multicore Security Technology
This technology enables the creation of robust terminals that can offset application flaws by isolating downloaded applications on a CPU, utilizing a secure operating system, and realizing newly developed "secure gates" among multiple cores.
It is expected that a number of advanced services on a ubiquitous network can be realized as terminals such as mobile handsets, in-car terminals, and information appliance terminals are increasingly linked to the Internet and other means, and various applications are developed. To that end, it is important to create ubiquitous terminals that have characteristics such as high performance, low power, scalability and reliability. NEC and NEC Electronics believe the completion of multicore-based system LSI platform for creating system LSI chips used in future ubiquitous terminals has been achieved, as the technology realizes high performance, low power consumption, reliability, and the possibility of application to ubiquitous terminals, through multicore virtual software technology and multicore security technology.
Considering the technology paradigm shift based on new concepts, NEC and NEC Electronics believe that their new technology will play a vital role in creating system LSI devices for a future ubiquitous networked society and will continue to proactively engage in research and development of multicore-based system LSI platforms.About NEC Corporation
NEC Corporation (NASDAQ: NIPNY) (FTSE: 6701q.l) is one of the world's leading providers of Internet, broadband network and enterprise business solutions dedicated to meeting the specialized needs of its diverse and global base of customers. Ranked as one of the world's top patent-producing companies, NEC delivers tailored solutions in the key fields of computer, networking and electron devices, by integrating its technical strengths in IT and Networks, and by providing advanced semiconductor solutions through NEC Electronics Corporation. The NEC Group employs more than 140,000 people worldwide and had net sales of 4,906 billion yen (approx. $47 billion) in the fiscal year ended March 2004. For additional information, please visit the NEC home page at: http://www.nec.com
.About NEC Electronics Corporation
NEC Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) specializes in semiconductor products encompassing advanced technology solutions for the high-end computing and broadband networking markets, system solutions for the mobile handsets, PC peripherals, automotive and digital consumer markets, and platform solutions for a wide range of customer applications. NEC Electronics Corporation has 26 subsidiaries worldwide including NEC Electronics America, Inc. and NEC Electronics (Europe) GmbH. Additional information about NEC Electronics worldwide can be found at http://www.necel.com
Note 1: Announced on January 26, 2005
Note 2: Announced on September 27, 2004