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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Broadcom plays off ARM and MIPS

Broadcom is licensing processor cores from the two arch competitors ARM and MIPS Technologies.
It is licensing the ARM Cortex-M3 for wireless designs and the MIPS 74K announce today for designs over 1GHz such as digital TV, set-top boxes, next generation DVD players/recorders, broadband access, PON, residential gateways and VoIP. Broadcom was the first to license the 74K core in January as an early access customer.
“The rapid convergence of digital devices and the emergence of new consumer markets, including IPTV, HD DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 802.11n, are driving the demand for superior performance, lower system costs and low power consumption,” said Jack Browne, vice president of marketing at MIPS Technologies.
However this is a complex beast with a 17-stage pipeline employing a combination of out-of-order dispatch and asymmetric dual-issue. This gives the higher frequency and higher performance with lower area and power, with 1.7sq mm core area and 0.76 mW/MHz in TMSC's general purpose 65nm process.
Broadcom is using the ARM M3 in a multiple-use licensing agreement for wireless LAN (802.11g,b and n,presumably) and Bluetooth. The key is the Thumb2 instruction set that combines both 16bit and 32bit instructions to keep code size down.
“The superior code density of the ARM Cortex-M3 processor enables a reduced memory footprint while delivering significant performance advantages over existing designs,” said Robert Rango, Group Vice President and General Manager of Broadcom’s Wireless Connectivity Group.
“Broadcom has long been an innovator in the wireless space, creating groundbreaking solutions enabling the delivery of innovative content in the home, office and on-the-move,” said Graham Budd, executive vice president and general manager of the Processor Division at ARM. “By combining Broadcom’s industry-leading wireless expertise, with the ARM Cortex-M3 processor, Broadcom has the building blocks for a compelling solution, tailored to the specific demands and rigors of the evolving consumer electronics market.”

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