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StrongARM claims 20 wins

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Richard Bell reports:

Digital Semiconductor claims to have over 20 design wins for its first application specific version of the industry's fastest embedded processor, the StrongARM.

The SA-1100 is based on the StrongARM processor, the SA-110, and is targeted at the communications and personal organiser market.

"We took the SA-110, extracted the core and added some extra blocks," said Lynn Comp, Digital's technical specialist for the Strong-ARM. Additions to the core include controllers for an LCD, universal serial bus (USB), PC Card and DMA channels.

The first versions of the SA-1100 run at 133 and 200MHz, offering the same performance as the original StrongARM - up to 230Mips at the higher clock speed. Such performance enables a Java virtual machine and a V.34 software modem to run concurrently, Comp said.

But by reducing the operating voltage to as little as 1.5V, power consumption has gone down to a typical value of 250mW at 200MHz. The resulting Mips/Watt rating approaches the milestone 1,000 level. The future introduction of a 233MHz device is expected to exceed the 1,000Mips/W barrier.

Digital claims a wide choice of operating system support (OS) for the SA-1100. Nine OSs are ported to the chip including Windows-CE, Newton's OS and Psion's EPOC32.

Digital has started feasibility studies for the next generation StrongARM, the SA-2. This will be a general purpose core, like the SA-1, that will be used as a building block for market-specific microcontrollers. SA-2 devices are not expected until at least the end of next year.

This article first appeared in Electronics Weekly,
Wednesday 10th September 1997