Texas Instruments ships 1 GHz DSPs made via 90-nm process

Smaller, faster, and less costly is the changing "constant" in microprocessors. Texas Instruments (TI) has recently announced that it’s shipping samples of what it calls "the world’s first 1 GHz digital signal processor (DSP), leveraging the 90 nanometer (nm) process node."

By Control Engineering Staff February 12, 2004

Smaller, faster, and less costly is the changing “constant” in microprocessors. Texas Instruments (TI) has recently announced that it’s shipping samples of what it calls “the world’s first 1 GHz digital signal processor (DSP), leveraging the 90 nanometer (nm) process node.” Designated TMS320C6414T, C6415T, and C6416T, three new DSPs offer 8 Giga multiply-accumulates (GMACs) on 8-bit data for video and imaging applications, or 4 GMACs on 16-bit data that’s common to speech and audio applications, according to TI. This performance reportedly opens wider DSP applications ranging from adaptive antenna arrays to smart cars to artificial vision. At the same time, it expands capabilities of existing real-time applications, such as IP-based video, high-speed broadband networking, medical diagnostics, and radar. All three DSPs include 1 MB of on-chip memory but differ in the content of integrated peripherals.

Moving to 90-nm process technology brings several benefits. It permits closer spacing of transistors for faster operating speeds, denser on-chip memory for more application efficiency, and lower manufacturing cost due to smaller die size. TI explains that 90-nm technology delivers close to 50% more die per wafer. The company also says that the new process will ease integration of system-on-a-chip (SoC) architectures by streamlining communication among system elements (DSP, memory, peripherals, RISC processors, and analog components). However, the tighter 90-nm production process is not without its engineering challenges.

These new DSPs—and C64x (720 MHz) devices also made via the 90-nm process—remain pin- and code-compatible with prior-generation TI devices. The C64x instruction-set architecture likewise stays unchanged. Samples of 1 GHz DSPs (C6414T, 6415T, and 6416T) are available today. Production quantities will be available in 4Q04, with prices starting at $189 for C6414T in 10k unit lots. New 720 MHz devices provide up to a 50% price reduction relative to existing devices, according to TI. For example, 90-nm C6415T has a starting price of $115 in 10k unit production quantities.

—Frank J. Bartos, executive editor, Control Engineering, fbartos@reedbusiness.com