Linley Newsletter: April 12, 2018

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  12th-Apr-2018
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Linley Newsletter

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

Please feel free to forward this to your colleagues

Issue #595

April 12, 2018


Independent Analysis of Microprocessors and the Semiconductor Industry

Editor: Tom R. Halfhill

Contributors: Linley Gwennap, Mike Demler, Bob Wheeler


In This Issue:

- Intel Adds Cores to Core Processors

- Clockless Cortex-M3 Cuts Power


Intel Adds Cores to Core Processors

By Linley Gwennap

Intel greatly expanded its lineup of 8th Generation processors with 30 new models beyond the 10 it introduced last year. The new products raise the CPU count for nearly all Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 buyers; high-end models go from four to six cores, and midrange models rise from two to four cores. The two new cores improve performance on highly multithreaded applications, particularly premium games and content-creation software (e.g., photo or video editing). Although many programs can't employ so many cores, the new processors can reach higher turbo speeds when the extra cores are inactive, delivering the same or even better performance for these programs as well.

Most of the new Core products offer these benefits with no price increase over the previous generation, but a few of the high-end laptop processors incur a small increase. Low-cost desktop processors in the Pentium and Celeron lines stay with two cores, earning just a small clock-speed boost. Low-cost laptop products get no upgrade at all.

The announcement brings the new Core i9 brand to the laptop market. Intel unveiled Core i9 desktop processors last year as part of its X-series. Whereas the X-series brings unprecedented core counts to the desktop, the new Core i9-8950HK is a slightly faster and unlocked version of the new Core i7 lineup.

Although the latest 14nm products bring a wealth of performance increases to PC users, their schedule underscores Intel's continued struggles with its new 10nm process. Whereas the company introduced a full range of Kaby Lake models by January 2017, Coffee Lake debuted in April, three months later in the annual cycle. Furthermore, the long-anticipated Cannon Lake-Y, Intel's first 10nm product, remains unannounced.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

http://www.linleygroup.com/mpr/article.php?id=11958

Clockless Cortex-M3 Cuts Power

By Tom R. Halfhill

For decades, processor architects have been trying to beat the clock -- the steady crystal heartbeat that regulates the synchronous logic in conventional circuits. Lower power is the reward of clockless asynchronous logic, but design complexities are the perennial obstacles. The latest company to tackle the challenge is Eta Compute, a Southern California startup.

Its first product is EtaCore: an asynchronous implementation of Arm's Cortex-M3 that other companies can license for chip designs. In addition, the startup will soon announce its own EtaCore-based microcontrollers for IoT edge applications, plus some unusual neural-network software for them. It's an ambitious business plan -- intellectual-property vendor, MCU supplier, AI-software provider -- but the young company is exploring multiple strategies that intersect.

Founded in 2015, Eta Compute employs about 25 people and recently raised $8 million in Series A funding from Walden International and Acorn Pacific Ventures. It boasts a management team with deep industry experience. CEO Gopal Raghavan was a cofounder and CTO of Inphi and previously worked at Cadence and Intel; CTO Narayan Srinivasa was an Intel chief scientist; board member Lip-Bu Tan is the chairman of Walden International and CEO of Cadence.

Right now, the company is focusing on the asynchronous-logic EtaCore, which can run the same software as any other Cortex-M3 while operating at subthreshold voltages to reduce power. According to Eta, the CPU can operate at 0.2V when fabricated in TSMC's 55nm ULP process. At a still-low 0.9V, it can cruise at 48MHz while consuming less than 1mW.

Eta has also developed some low-power analog peripherals and components, including A/D and D/A converters. EtaCore, the peripheral IP, and the AI software are available now; the company's EtaCore MCUs will debut later this year.

Microprocessor Report subscribers can access the full article:

http://www.linleygroup.com/mpr/article.php?id=11957

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:

http://www.linleygroup.com/newsletters/newsletter_subscribe.php

Domain: Electronics
Category: Semiconductors

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