Arm has reduced the size and the number of transistors on its new ARM968E-S core to reduce the power consumption of chips used to connect to wireless networks.
Arm designs the cores that semiconductor manufacturers use in products such as personal digital assistants, mobile phones and networking devices. Companies such as Texas Instruments, Toshiba, Motorola and Intersil all use Arm designs in their processors.
The ARM968E-S core is designed to be incorporated into chips for 802.11 wireless Lans as well as chips that support the Bluetooth short-range networking standard, said Richard Phelan, embedded cores product manager for Arm.
The core is 20% smaller than the preceding ARM966E-S core design and uses 10% less power, because fewer transistors were built into the core, he said.
A new memory architecture helps move data into and out of the processor core from the memory more quickly than previous designs without affecting processing performance, Phelan said. This is ideal for communications devices that need to process a stream of data, such as audio or video, he added.
Arm has incorporated a direct memory access controller into the core design, improving the efficiency of the processor.
Normally the manufacturer would have to add this product in after licensing the core design, but by having the controller validated as part of the Arm core, the manufacturer saves money and time with a more complete product.
PDAs and mobile phones will be the primary target for wireless networking chips based on the 968 core. Expansion cards for devices without built-in wireless support could also use this processor core.
Initially, chip manufacturers will be able to use the core in chips with clock speeds ranging from 100MHz to 120MHz, but those speeds will probably increase over time, Phelan said.
Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service
This was first published in December 2003