Linley Newsletter: November 16, 2017

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Linley Newsletter

(Formerly Processor Watch, Linley Wire, and Linley on Mobile)

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Issue #574

November 16, 2017

Independent Analysis of Microprocessors and the Semiconductor Industry

Editor: Tom R. Halfhill

Contributors: Mike Demler, Bob Wheeler

In This Issue:

- i.MX Processor Hits 3,000 CoreMarks

- New Gfast Silicon Joins Gigabit Class

Linley Group Report: "A Guide to Multicore Processors" (4th Edition)

Our newest edition of "A Guide to Multicore Processors" provides extensive coverage on embedded processors with four or more CPU cores that are used for networking, communications, storage, security, and other applications. Vendors covered include AMD, Broadcom, Cavium, Intel, Kalray, Macom (AppliedMicro), Mellanox (Tilera/EZChip), and NXP. Since publishing the previous edition in 2014, we have updated the coverage to include many new announcements, including:

- Cavium's ARMv8-compatible Octeon TX processors;

- NXP's newest ARM-based LS1- and LS2-series processors;

- Intel's new Xeon (Skylake) processors and Xeon D processors;

- Mellanox's new ARM-based BlueField processors;

- Final 2016 market size and vendor share;

- Embedded-processor forecasts to 2020.

Visit our web site to view the table of contents, executive summary, and lists of figures and tables:

For more information or to order the report, please email us at

i.MX Processor Hits 3,000 CoreMarks

By Mike Demler

NXP's i.MX RT1050 is the first Cortex-M7-based chip to exceed 3,000 EEMBC CoreMarks (CM), surpassing by 50% the previous leader. The new design delivers that performance by enabling its 5CM/MHz CPU to run at a 50% higher clock frequency than its nearest competitor: as fast as 600MHz in 40nm technology.

To develop the new i.MX RT products, NXP started with its i.MX 6ULL family of single-core application processors, which are based on Cortex-A7 and sell in consumer- and industrial-grade models. The RT1050 offers the same connectivity interfaces and system-control functions as its Cortex-A predecessor. It integrates a generic 2D-graphics engine that supports alpha and chroma-key image composition, image rotation, and color-space conversion. The display controller can drive WXGA (1,366x768) LCDs.

Except for eliminating DDR support, the new processor retains the same external-memory interfaces as the 6ULL. It adds an on-chip DC-DC converter, which offers potential bill-of-materials (BOM) savings for designs that don't use a standalone chip to power other components. But whereas microcontrollers typically employ an embedded-flash process, the RT1050 employs the same 40nm CMOS process as the i.MX 6ULL. It includes 512KB of on-chip SRAM, which is configurable as tightly coupled memory (TCM).

The company positions the RT1050 as an alternative to Cortex-A-based application processors, targeting embedded devices that sport features such as high-resolution displays while retaining the low-power and fast interrupt-response characteristics of a typical microcontroller. But because the chip can't run a full Linux operating system, it will primarily compete against more-traditional high-performance MCUs, including the STMicroelectronics STM32H7-series. These devices are well suited to consumer appliances, cameras, industrial systems, medical equipment, vending machines, and other products employing 2D graphical user interfaces.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

New Gfast Silicon Joins Gigabit Class

By Bob Wheeler

With sexier broadband technologies in the news, it's easy to forget that twisted-pair copper still delivers service to about 250 million broadband subscribers, predominantly in the U.S. and Western Europe. At last month's Broadband World Forum (BBWF) in Berlin, vendors showed new silicon for Gfast Amendment 3, which increases the maximum frequency to 212MHz and download speeds to more than 1Gbps.

Startup Sckipio, the Gfast flag bearer, demonstrated its new SCK23000 chipset delivering 3.1Gbps downloads and 900Mbps uploads over two bonded pairs of Category 3 wiring. It's first with chips that handle bonding for the new 212MHz profile. Broadcom, the leading vendor of DSL silicon, introduced a new SoC for home gateways that supports one 212MHz Gfast line or two-line bonding for 106MHz Gfast and 35MHz VDSL. To reduce the number of gateway models (SKUs) that telcos must work with, the BCM63158 also supports GPON.

Although Gfast extends the life of copper, Verizon remains optimistic about fixed wireless broadband as a new alternative. It plans to disclose results of its pre-5G millimeter-wave trials this quarter and expects to launch fixed service in 2018. For chip vendors, fixed wireless broadband further fragments a market already served by a mix of DSL, cable, and PON. Chip vendors are aligning their strategies with their technology and geographic strengths. Intel and Qualcomm appear focused on 5G, whereas Broadcom has developed the most comprehensive wired-broadband portfolio.

Broadcom's wired-broadband dominance has generated about $1.6 billion in combined 2016 sales of DSL, PON, and cable ASSPs. According to our estimates, it captured 71% of the DSL IC market, with Intel a distant second. The latter company invested in Sckipio two years ago but has since made no move into Gfast products. Last year, its Connected Home Division introduced the GRX750 home-gateway SoC, which omits a DSL modem. This situation leaves Broadcom and Sckipio as the leading chip vendors investing in Gfast.

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:

Domain: Electronics
Category: Semiconductors

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