Freescale announces dual-core PowerPC processor

While much has been made of efforts by Advanced Micro Devices and Intel to bring dual-core processors to PCs and servers, Freescale Semiconductor announced Tuesday at a conference in Frankfurt, Germany, details of a dual-core PowerPC processor designed for embedded applications, such as networking and storage.

Manufactured using a 90-nanometer process, Freescale's MPC8641D processor has two PowerPC e600 processor cores designed to run at clock speeds faster than 1.5GHz and connected by a high-speed interface, the company said in a statement. Each processor core has 1M-byte of L2 cache and the chip is designed to consume up to 25 watts of power under typical operating conditions, it said.

The MPC8641D also includes four Ethernet controllers that support Gigabit Ethernet connections and has an integrated memory controller that supports DDR (Double Data Rate) DRAM (Dynamic RAM) and DDR2 RAM, the company said.

Freescale sees dual-core processors offering four principal advantages in embedded applications: Dual-core chips take up less space and consume less power than two separate processors; data can be exchanged more quickly between the processor cores using an internal bus compared to a PCI bus connecting two separate chips; more bandwidth is available to memory and latency is reduced; and cores can share data stored in their respective L2 caches without accessing main memory.

Additional details of the MPC8641D will be announced at the Fall Processor Forum and the Network Design Systems Conference. Both events are scheduled to take place next month in San Jose, California. Pricing and availability of the chip was not immediately available.

In addition to the MPC8641D, Freescale announced two more chips on Tuesday based on the PowerPC e600 core. The MPC8641 is a single-core version of the MPC8641D and is pin-compatible with the dual-core chip. The other chip is the MPC7448, a lower power successor to Freescale's MPC7447A that offers faster performance, the company said.

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