Linley Newsletter: July 27, 2017

 weSRCH's Best of the Internet Award

Linley Newsletter
(Formerly Processor Watch, Linley Wire, and Linley on Mobile)
Please feel free to forward this to your colleagues

Issue #558
July 27, 2017

Independent Analysis of Microprocessors and the Semiconductor Industry

Editor: Tom R. Halfhill
Contributors: Jag Bolaria, Linley Gwennap

In This Issue:

- Embedded Skylake Speeds Networking
- Skylake X Scales Extreme PCs
- MediaTek Offers Cat-NB2 Modem

Free Proceedings Available Now:
Linley IoT Hardware Conference 2017

Did you miss our IoT Hardware Conference this week? Proceedings are now available for free download. The conference agenda included hardware designs for applications such as smart cities, smart grids, smart farms, smart homes, connected vehicles, and industrial IoT, along with wearables, health, and fitness devices.

The keynote presentation by Mike Demler (conference chair and Linley Group senior analyst) features our top-down IoT market analysis and forecast, plus the technology trends that are driving IoT growth.

The proceedings are free with online registration:

Embedded Skylake Speeds Networking
By Tom R. Halfhill

Intel's new Xeon Scalable processors supersede the Xeon E5v4 embedded processors that use the Broadwell-EP core. The 16 new Xeon embedded processors derive from the new Skylake-SP server processors but have extended availability. Nine of them also guarantee extended reliability.

The company builds Skylake-SP chips in the same 14nm+ technology as Kaby Lake: an enhanced version of the 14nm FinFET technology used for Broadwell. Skylake-SP also has an improved CPU microarchitecture that executes about 5% more instructions per clock cycle than Broadwell. In addition, the new products exceed their Xeon E5v4 predecessors in core count, clock frequency, memory bandwidth, PCI Express lanes, multisocket connectivity, power consumption, and list price.

Equally important for embedded customers are Intel's new C62x south-bridge chips (code-named Lewisburg). They have up to four 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) ports, which previously required an additional chip, and much faster hardware acceleration than the aging Coleto Creek controller hub.

Overall, the new Xeon embedded processors deliver about 10% more integer performance and 11% more performance per watt than their E5v4 predecessors. Much bigger gains are possible for networking and communications when they pair with the new hub. But those gains come at the expense of higher prices and higher power dissipation in some comparisons with Broadwell chips. To get the best value, customers must carefully weigh the new chips against the old -- an exercise made trickier by Intel's new brand strategy.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

Skylake X Scales Extreme PCs
By Jag Bolaria

Spurred by strengthening competition from AMD, Intel has preemptively dropped prices and is channeling the brute performance of its server portfolio into PC platforms. It launched its Extreme products last year, but they only had two more cores than the company's other PC processors. The new Extreme series almost doubles the core count at about the same price.

Intel is offering this massive performance boost under the freshly minted Core i9 brand, stepping up from Core i7, its previous high-end PC processor. The company sells three Extreme-series models and promises to launch more before the year's end.

AMD also disclosed plans to bring new high-performance processors to market under the Threadripper brand. The first models are the 16-core Ryzen 1950X and 12-core Ryzen 1920X. Both use the same Zen CPU that appears in the other Ryzen processors as well as in the company's new Epyc server processors. Like the Core i9, Threadripper is based on a server-class chip.

Although neither company has released performance numbers, we believe AMD's top-of-the-line Ryzen Threadripper is neck and neck with the Core i9 in performance and features. The Core i9 and Threadripper 1950X should deliver enough performance to spur new applications, particularly among game and content developers. Early applications include games with fast action, such as Project Cars, which is designed to work with 360-degree 12K-resolution video. Although unit shipments for these processor will be small, revenue could exceed half a billion dollars.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

MediaTek Offers Cat-NB2 Modem
By Linley Gwennap

MediaTek is the latest company to deliver an NB-IoT modem, rolling out the MT2625. It reduces system cost by integrating the RF filters and power-management unit (PMU). The MT2625 still requires an external power amplifier (PA) and antenna switch to complete the RF front end. The MT2625's RF unit supports all NB-IoT bands defined in Release 13 and Release 14, ranging from 450MHz to 2.1GHz.

The company simplified the new design by implementing only the low-bandwidth NB-IoT standard, also called Cat-NB1/NB2, which operates at just 126kbps on the downlink and 158kbps on the uplink. Unlike most other IoT modems, however, the chip can't handle Cat-M1, which operates at about 300kbps. This restriction makes the MT2625 well suited to remote devices that transmit only small amounts of data.

The MediaTek chip has a microcontroller subsystem featuring a Cortex-M4 CPU running at 104MHz. It integrates 4MB of PSRAM and 4MB of NOR flash to eliminate external memory. A separate DSP core offloads most of the modem functions from the CPU, freeing it to run simple customer applications using a basic RTOS.

The combination of the MCU, PMU, modem, and RF front end enables highly compact designs. MediaTek demonstrated a tiny 16mm x 18mm module containing a complete NB-IoT modem. The MT2625 is due to enter production later this quarter, just as the major Chinese operators are rolling out their NB-IoT service. The MT2625's low price and high integration should make it a popular choice for basic IoT devices that need low-speed cellular connectivity, particularly in China.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

About Linley Newsletter

Linley Newsletter is a free electronic newsletter that reports and analyzes advances in microprocessors, networking chips, and mobile-communications chips. It is published by The Linley Group and consolidates our previous electronic newsletters: Processor Watch, Linley Wire, and Linley on Mobile. To subscribe, please visit:

We encourage you to forward this newsletter to your colleagues. They may subscribe by visiting our web site using the link above.

Copyright 2017, The Linley Group

Domain: Electronics
Category: Semiconductors

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