Electronic Design

CPUs Target Low-Power, High-Performance Apps

Targeted at next-generation information appliances and other applications, National Semiconductor's GX2 family of highly integrated processors builds on x86 software compatibility and features included in the company's first-generation Geode family. The GX2-LP suits low-power applications, and the GX2-XP fits high-performance desktop or line-powered systems.

The GX2's enhanced x86-compatible 0.15-µm CPU core boasts an improved integer and floating-point unit as well as 16-kbyte data and instruction caches. It delivers 2.5 times the throughput of the GX1 and consumes 50% less power.

Besides large on-chip caches, the GX2 CPU features the 3D Now and enhanced MMX instruction extensions. For high-speed I/O data transfers, a GeodeLink interface and control arbiter was added to the chip. The arbiter enables dynamic allocation of memory bandwidth, with on-the-fly prioritization. That, coupled with out-of-order data streams and peer-to-peer communications, permits direct communication between on-chip modules and a 6-Gbyte/s data bandwidth.

Also included is a high-performance graphics processor, a display controller, and a video processor. The GX2-XP version can drive either a CRT or a TFT flat-panel monitor, while the lower-power LP version will only support TFT panels. The graphics controller handles resolutions up to 1600 by 1200 pixels with a color depth of 16 bits per pixel, or 1280 by 1024 pixels with a 24-bit color depth.

Aggressive power management helps keep active chip power between 1 and 2 W, depending on clock speed, which could range from 200 to 400 MHz. At those speeds, the CPU delivers a throughput of 150 to 300 Dhrystone 2.1 MIPS. The processor also packs a 66-MHz 32-bit PCI interface.

In 100,000-unit lots, a two-chip set (the GX2 processor and the CS5535 peripheral support chip) sells for $45.

National Semiconductor, 2900 Semiconductor Dr., Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090; (408) 721-5000; www.national.com.

TAGS: Components
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