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ARM at the Core of IBM's New Serial Interface

IBM and VLSI have recently announced a memorandum of understanding for the development of silicon chips for the Serial Storage Architecture (SSA) interface. VLSI will develop and manufacture ARM-based ICs for SSA applications that will be available for purchase and use by IBM and others in future storage products.

SSA, which is being promoted vigorously as an industry standard by IBM, offers much higher operating speeds than existing serial protocols, such as RS232. Consequently, SSA can be used with high-speed peripherals such as hard disk arrays, for which the only currently viable option is a parallel interface.

An advantage of serial over parallel interfaces is that cabling is much simplified, thereby decreasing equipment cost and set-up time while enhancing reliability. SSA also offers even higher transmission rates than current parallel standards.

SSA, which was developed at IBM's Havant research laboratories in the UK, offers an easy migration path for systems currently using SCSI interfaces, since the supporting code should only need minimal rewriting.

The performance characteristics of SSA are impressive. An SSA node achieves a total transmission rate of 80Mbytes/sec. Sophisticated error-detection and isolation features deliver extensive transparent error recovery. Significant processing power is needed in the SSA communications controller for this advanced error handling at these high speeds.

VLSI will be using an ARM RISC core at the heart of the new SSA driver ICs it is designing and fabricating for IBM. The ARM processor offers a very high level of performance, yet is only a fraction the size of its competitors and so can easily be embedded into the custom ASICs. The ability to integrate the ARM onto complex ASICs reduces chip count and hence cost, which is important if SSA is to be accepted as a standard.

ARM's processors are targeted at portable computing and communications, embedded control and consumer multi-media. IBM's selection of the ARM processor endorses its applicability for embedded control in this important marketplace.

Notes to Editors

1. Advanced RISC Machines (ARM) Ltd

ARM was formed in November 1990 by Acorn Computers, Apple Computer and VLSI Technology to set the world standard in high performance, low cost, energy efficient RISC processors. In April of 1993 Nippon Investment and Finance (NIF), a Daiwa Securities Company, became ARM's fourth investor. ARM also designs peripheral chips, supporting software and hardware tools. ARM's products are used in applications at the cross roads of computing, communications and consumer electronics. ARM provides design services, consultancy, feasibility studies and training to enable the global acceptance of its architecture.

ARM has licensed its technology to world leading semiconductor companies - VLSI Technology, GEC Plessey Semiconductors, Sharp Corporation, Texas Instruments and Cirrus Logic. These Semiconductor Partners manufacture and market ARM products world-wide and embed ARM technology in a range of devices targeted at emerging applications.

2. VLSI Technology, Inc., (NASDAQ:VLSI)

VLSI designs and manufactures application-specific integrated circuits and application-specific standard products based on its proprietary FSB library technology. Targeting its offerings towards the computing, communications and consumer marketplaces, the Company offers its customers advanced system-level integration capabilities based on enabling technologies such as secure information, network and wireless communications, and RISC-based embedded control. VLSI's products are designed into desktop and portable computers, network and wireless voice and data equipment, and other state-of-the-art systems. The Company is based in San Jose, California, and has approximately 2,650 employees worldwide.

On behalf of:

Robin Saxby, Advanced RISC Machines Ltd, Fulbourn Road, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge CB1 4JN. Tel: (0223) 400400. Fax: (0223) 400410. E-mail address: marketing@armltd.co.uk.

The above is a Press release from ARM Limited, 19/05/94