Infineon Technologies announces innovation to leapfrog Moore's Law; technology enables "virtual" microcontrollers to help make everyday electronic systems more powerful, more power efficient and less expensive
The typical progress of chip performance, referred to as Moores Law, is based on the reduction in the size of transistors, which leads to a corresponding increase in computing power. But Infineons MyVP technology achieves its dramatic performance improvements by changing the way that embedded processors work, enabling a leap in performance without changing production technology.
In automobiles, for example, MyVP technology is designed to allow high-speed processors to operate at greatly increased efficiency, improving engine performance, emissions and fuel efficiency, and lowering the cost of safety and comfort features to move them into mass-market models. Mobile phone designers will be able to create phones with extended battery life and lower cost, even while adding the interactive multimedia and Internet access features of next-generation networks. Multi-threading technology also makes it possible for engineers to design new types of always on networked systems and affordable personal entertainment devices.
Embedded technologies are in every single electronic product we use. Improvements in the way the processors and DSP chips in these products work has a direct impact on individual lifestyles, said Dr. Soenke Mehrgardt, Chief Technology Officer at Infineon Technologies AG. Infineons MyVP technology is a key development to help Infineon and its customers create entirely new embedded products that enhance the way we all live, work and play.
The MyVP technology is based on a series of innovations that make it possible to use multi-threading, a technique developed for high-performance computer systems, in embedded processors and digital signal processors, while maintaining or improving the real-time determinism required for embedded systems. Infineons first Implementation of MyVP technology will be in a new 32-bit microcontroller that it plans to introduce in mid-2003. Infineon also plans to actively license MyVP technology to other chip designers to promote wide use of the technology.
Solves the Memory Problem
Constant increases in clock rates are one effect of Moores Law, and clock speed, or megahertz, has become popular as a general gauge of performance. But a processor runs no faster than memory, so speeding up the processor has no benefit when the fast chip is using program memory that runs at one-tenth its speed, said Robert Ober, Director of Microprocessor Architecture at Infineon Technologies. MyVP technology helps to solve a performance problem that keeps getting worse over time, and creates a solution to the high cost of complex memory subsystems. Radically more performance and lower cost.
A 10X improvement in performance can be seen in cost-sensitive embedded systems, where processors running at speeds of 400 megahertz (MHz) are paired with low-cost external Flash memory at 40 MHz. The processor can waste 90 percent of its time waiting for instructions from that slow memory. With MyVP technology, an embedded processor acts like multiple separate virtual processors. When one processor task is forced to wait, the other virtual processor takes over, making efficient use of 100 percent of the chips calculating resources.
In typical embedded systems, engineers make a trade-off between fast expensive memory chips and low-speed, low-cost memory. Tasks considered timing critical use instructions stored in the fast on-chip memory, while all other tasks use instructions stored on separate, lower speed memory chips. While this memory problem is common to all types of computer systems, it is particularly acute in embedded systems such as consumer electronics, where cost variations of less than a dollar can make the difference between success and failure. To control costs, the designers try to reduce the amount of fast memory without sacrificing performance. With MyVP technology, designers can reduce the cost of system memory while actually increasing performance. MyVP technology also includes techniques to maintain deterministic performance, which is a requirement for a wide range of embedded system applications. Simply put, determinism means that a system can predictably execute certain tasks within critical nanosecond time spans.
Improving the way things work
Improving efficiency at the chip enables more capable systems running at lower speed and lower power levels, while also dramatically improving high-end system performance.
For example, memory access delays can reduce the efficiency of the baseband processor in mobile phones by a factor of three; a processor designed to run at speeds of 150 MHz operates at an effective rate of 50 MHz. Using MyVP technology, engineers can design the phone using a processor chip with much lower clock speed. This lengthens the battery life of the phone or reduces the size of the battery required without any other change in the design. In addition, new multimedia features, such as digital audio and video play back, can be added inexpensively by using a faster clock speed chip with the peak efficiency of MyVP technology.
Improving efficiency and reducing memory costs makes it possible to move embedded processor applications to entirely new types of systems. Infineons work in wearable microelectronics is one area in which MyVP technology promises to improve capability while managing the cost of new products. GPS and other location technologies can be embedded into the clothing of children, while highly accurate, low-cost medical sensors with wireless data connections can lead to improved health care monitoring for people of all ages.
MyVP is an example of how Infineons innovations in technology can fuel the development of new products for the markets we currently serve, and into other areas where digital technology can dramatically improve peoples lives, said Infineons Dr. Mehrgardt. When you consider this technology can be implemented using just a tiny fraction of a microchips area, it is an example of how smart design makes it possible to extend the benefits of computer technology into improving everyday life.
Infineon Technologies AG, Munich, Germany, offers semiconductor and system solutions for applications in the wired and wireless communications markets, for security systems and smartcards, for the automotive and industrial sectors, as well as memory products. With a global presence, Infineon operates in the US from San Jose, CA, in the Asia-Pacific region from Singapore and in Japan from Tokyo. In the fiscal year 2001 (ending September), the company achieved sales of Euro 5.67 billion with about 33,800 employees worldwide. Infineon is listed on the DAX index of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and on the New York Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: IFX). Further information is available at www.infineon.com.
Infineon Technologies announces innovation to leapfrog Moore's Law; technology enables "virtual" microcontrollers to help make everyday electronic systems more powerful, more power efficient and less expensivePress Picture
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