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Current Articles

August 22, 2022

  • Tomahawk 5 Switches at 51.2Tbps
    Broadcom is the first vendor to sample a 51Tbps data-center switch chip. The 5nm device features 100Gbps serdes and port speeds of up to 800G Ethernet.
  • Cognifiber Targets Purely Photonic AI
    The Israeli startup has built a proof-of-concept system for a simple optical neural network, but it will require additional effort to handle commercial AI models.
  • Functional Safety Moves to Chips
    Functional safety affects an increasing number of chip and IP designs. Vendors are precertifying chips, IP, and tools to make it easier for their customers to achieve certification.

August 15, 2022

  • Google’s Tensor DLA Lags in Area, Speed
    Among flagship-smartphone processors, Google’s first custom design has the largest AI engine but the worst AI performance. In contrast, the Dimensity 9000’s AI engine is the most efficient.
  • TI AM625 Updates Industrial SoCs
    TI has updated its low-cost SoC family with 64-bit CPUs, lower power, and improved security and functional-safety support, enabling it to target automotive as well as industrial applications.
  • Intel Finally Gives Up on Optane
    Intel and Micron have developed a revolutionary new memory technology called 3D XPoint, but under the Optane brand it never met expectations as either an SSD or DIMM replacement.

August 8, 2022

  • Qualcomm Leaps Forward With W5+
    Qualcomm has updated its smartwatch platform with new chip designs. Reduced power enables a visible watch face even when idle; reduced chipset area enables smartwatches that operate globally.
  • Apple Loses GPU-Performance Lead
    Our die-photo analysis reveals that Samsung devoted too little area to its AMD-powered GPU, contributing to its performance shortfall. MediaTek and Intel both outperform the latest Apple chip.
  • Intel Shines Light on Copackaged Optics
    Intel’s eight-laser silicon-photonics research chip could be a breakthrough for copackaged optics. It places the laser array on a silicon chip that can eventually be integrated in the package.

August 1, 2022

  • MediaTek Delivers Efficient Cortex-X2
    Our die-photo analysis reveals that the Dimensity 9000 features the smallest Cortex-X2 design, but Apple’s Avalanche CPU still leads in performance and power efficiency.
  • Enlightra Team Demos Photonic AI Engine
    A research team led by Enlightra’s founders demonstrated a new method of photonic AI inference that is smaller than earlier photonics implementations. Using photonics also provides opportunities for resource sharing that aren’t available with electronics.
  • Editorial: OEMs Lack Good Value Options
    Overly cautious about rising development costs and risk, vendors aren’t refreshing their lower-cost processors, hurting themselves and customers. They must consider business cases other than merely chasing the biggest customers.

July 25, 2022

  • Editorial: Nanometer Nonsense
    Both leading foundries allowed customers to claim they were using a 4nm process when, in fact, they were using 5nm technology. This situation renders node names meaningless.
  • MCX Unifies NXP Microcontrollers
    NXP is unifying its microcontroller offering with the new MCX family. Although this doesn’t indicate the end of the older families, it will be the focus for new designs that need modern features.
  • Cadence Cuts ConnX Costs
    New ConnX 110 and 120 DSP cores upgrade the company’s BBE DSPs and are compatible with the higher-performance ConnX B10 and B20. They target wireless communications, radar, and lidar.

July 18, 2022

  • Imagination Launches RISC-V Core
    Imagination Technologies has unveiled its first Catapult family member. Based on the RISC-V architecture, the CPU core targets real-time applications, putting Cortex-R52 in its sights.
  • Gaudi2 Makes Impressive MLPerf Debut
    In the latest round of MLPerf Training results, Graphcore’s Bow offers a modest improvement and Habana’s Gaudi2 triples performance over its predecessor, vaulting past Nvidia’s A100 on one benchmark.
  • RISC-V Extension Eliminates Division
    RISC-V International, the governing body of the open-standard instruction set, recently approved four new specifications that address multiplication, bootloaders, and debugging, reducing the gap with Arm.

July 11, 2022

  • AlphaICs Joins Crowded Edge-AI Market
    AlphaICs is sampling a test version of its Gluon edge-inference accelerator chip. Given moderate performance, the company plans changes to improve the production version, with an architectural overhaul planned for the second generation.
  • Intel 10nm Processors Target Comms
    New Intel Atom processors have 4 to 24 CPUs and target enterprise networking and SMB storage. They extend the Snow Ridge product line and largely replace the Denverton family.
  • Dimensity 9000 Now Available in Plus Size
    MediaTek and Qualcomm announced midlife kickers for their premium-smartphone processors, delivering the Dimensity 9000+ and Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, respectively, and showing that not all 4nm processes are the same.

July 4, 2022

  • Cortex-X3 Powers Up
    Arm’s new Makalu CPUs, branded Cortex-X3 and Cortex-A715, deliver performance and power-efficiency gains, respectively. The IP vendor also updated Cortex-A510 and the DSU-110.
  • Arm G715 GPU Catches Some Rays
    Ray tracing in smartphones takes a big step with Arm’s new Immortalis-G715 GPU, while the Mali-G715 version brings new features and better performance to mainstream devices.
  • Enlightra Prunes Lasers From WDM
    The startup’s technology can create a hundred optical data carriers from a single laser, greatly reducing the cost and power of high-bandwidth optical links that use wavelength-division multiplexing.

June 27, 2022

  • MIPS Releases First RISC-V CPUs
    MIPS Inc. has developed its first licensable CPUs implementing the RISC-V instruction set by repurposing older MIPS-compatible cores. The P8700 and I8500 outperform most other RISC-V designs.
  • NXP Chip Combines Car Functions
    NXP’s S32Z2 and S32E2 processors integrate multiple low-level automotive functions into a single SoC that preserves isolation between virtualized electronic control units (ECUs) from software through I/Os.
  • SiPearl Targets European Supercomputer
    French startup SiPearl has received additional funding to complete the development of its Rhea supercomputing processor, which has changed considerably from its original specifications.

June 20, 2022

  • Cortex-M85 Is Fastest MCU Core
    The superscalar Cortex-M85 is Arm’s fastest core for standalone microcontrollers and MCU-like subsystems. A vector unit helps it excel at AI.
  • Silicon Labs Adds AI to MCUs
    Silicon Labs has added a small deep-learning accelerator to its newest wireless microcontrollers, reducing the power required for inference of tiny AI models.
  • Editorial: It’s Getting Hot in Here
    Server processors, AI accelerators, and switch chips are consuming more power and generating more heat, some as much as 950W. Data centers must change to accommodate these hot chips.

June 13, 2022

  • Tachyum Targets Petaflop/s
    The startup is close to taping out its “universal” processor, branded Prodigy, which aims to deliver industry-leading performance on server, supercomputer, and AI workloads.
  • Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 Adopts Arm v9
    The CPU performance of Qualcomm’s mid-premium smartphone processor is similar to last year’s, but its capabilities in total make for a substantial upgrade.
  • Auto Ethernet Goes Multi-Gigabit
    Broadcom and Marvell now offer automotive Ethernet switch chips capable of 55Gbps and 37Gbps. Usable in both zonal and domain architectures, they support the move to automotive Ethernet and its rising bandwidths.

June 6, 2022

  • Habana Gaudi2 Triples Performance
    The latest chip from the Intel subsidiary offers a big performance jump from the initial Gaudi, putting it into the same class as Nvidia’s new Hopper GPU.
  • Recogni Delivers One Petaop/s
    The startup’s initial AI accelerator can process four streams of 4K video while using less than 25W. A novel approach to math and weight compression help keep the die size small.
  • Wi Fi 7 AP Chips Coming Next Year
    Next-generation Wi Fi 7 is on the horizon, and the leading wireless-LAN chipmakers—Broadcom, MediaTek, and Qualcomm—are already sampling new access-point chipsets for production next year.

May 30, 2022

  • Dimensity 1050 Adds Millimeter-Wave 5G
    MediaTek’s first smartphone processor to support the highest cellular bands targets mmWave operators in the US and Japan. In addition, the Dimensity 930 upgrades midrange sub-6GHz phones.
  • Helio G99: The Final 4G Processor?
    MediaTek released a 6nm shrink of the Helio G96, reducing cost and extending battery life. The G99 product number signals it may be the company’s final LTE processor.
  • MediaTek’s Genio Is Out of the Bottle
    MediaTek has created a new brand for its embedded application processors. The family includes older rebranded chips but introduces a new flagship model, the Genio 1200, for AI IoT applications.

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