Tensilica Creates Fastest 90nm Licensable Processor Core

8/30/2005 - Tensilica®, Inc., announced that its Xtensa processors have been proven in 90nm design flows to reach the highest clock rate of any licensable 32-bit processors available, reaching over 600 MHz in commercially available, high-performance foundry process technology and up to 700 MHz from Tensilica’s value-added silicon partners, such as STMicroelectronics.

Not only is the Xtensa LX processor the highest performance licensable processor core, but its superior architecture provides better performance on a per-MHz basis on the basic architecture with no configuration extensions.

With customization, the Xtensa LX can provide an order of magnitude better performance. And the Xtensa LX processor consistently achieves lower power scores than other 32-bit processors.

“These outstanding results prove that our basic Xtensa architecture is a superior platform for embedded applications, compared to the vintage RISC architectures originally designed for 1980’s desktops,” stated Chris Rowen, Tensilica’s President and CEO. “With the performance we can provide in 90nm flows, Xtensa processors are the best choice for both control tasks and compute-intensive applications requiring the further performance advantage of configurability and extensibility.”

Outstanding Performance Results
Xtensa LX reaches the highest clock rate published to date of any licensable 32-bit processor in 90nm technology. STMicroelectronics has fabricated and tested a 5-pipeline stage implementation of the Xtensa V processor that runs at 500 MHz. When STMicroelectronics simulated a design expected to go into fabrication in a couple of months using a 7-stage implementation of the Xtensa LX processor, they achieved 700 MHz in their 90nm technology.

For a standard COT (customer-owned tools) design flow using TSMC’s 90GT high-performance process, the Xtensa LX processor achieved the following results:

Xtensa LX ConfigurationFrequency1 (Worst Case)Core Area2 (Sq. mm)
Minimum area5000.118
Base 5-stage59030.185
Base 7-stage6550.224

1 – 3D extracted, post-layout timing
2 – Actual layout
3 – Assumes memory access time is 1.012 ns

Lowest Power
Many consumer SOC applications require the lowest possible power requirements for long-lasting battery life. While power varies dramatically with various process technologies, Xtensa processors consistently get outstanding results. This is why Xtensa processors are being designed into so many new cellular phone applications.

The following chart shows some sample results.

Process TechnologyXtensa LX ConfigurationPower (mW/MHz)Static Leakage (mW)
TSMC 90GT High PerformanceMinimum area0.0481.01
Base 5-stage0.0591.90
TSMC 90G Standard ProcessMinimum area0.0320.186
Base 5-stage0.0340.262

Superior Architecture
In addition to offering the highest available clock rates, the superior Xtensa processor architecture provides better performance than any other licensable 32-bit processor core on a per-MHz basis, even with no configuration extensions, as demonstrated in the EEMBC benchmarks below. (Note: All EEMBC benchmark scores are on a per-MHz basis and normalized to ARM 1026EJ-S = 1.0. Also, Tensilica scores are for the Xtensa V and Xtensa LX processors.)

ConsumerNetworkingOffice AutomationTelecom
ARM 1026EJ-S1111
MIPS 20Kc1.
Xtensa witdout custom instructions1.181.801.302.51

With customization, the Xtensa processors can provide an order of magnitude better performance, as demonstrated in the EEMBC benchmarks below:

ConsumerNetworkingOffice AutomationTelecom
ARM 1026EJ-S1111
MIPS 20Kc1.
Xtensa Optimized witd Custom Instructions27.547.425.5238.08

About Tensilica
Tensilica was founded in July 1997 to address the growing need for optimized, application-specific microprocessor solutions in high-volume embedded applications. With a configurable and extensible microprocessor core called Xtensa, Tensilica is the only company that has automated and patented the time-consuming process of generating a customized microprocessor core along with a complete software development tool environment, producing new configurations in a matter of hours.

Tensilica and Xtensa are registered trademarks belonging to Tensilica, Inc.

Tensilica’s announced licensees include Agilent, ALPS, AMCC (JNI Corporation), Astute Networks, ATI, Avision, Bay Microsystems, Berkeley Wireless Research Center, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Conexant Systems, Cypress, Crimson Microsystems, ETRI, FUJIFILM Microdevices, Fujitsu Lth., Hudson Soft, Hughes Network Systems, Ikanos Communications, LG Electronics, Marvell, NEC Laboratories America, NEC Corporation, NetEffect, Neterion, Nippon Telephone and Telegraph (NTT), NVIDIA, Olympus Optical Co. Lth., sci-worx, Seiko Epson, Solid State Systems, Sony, STMicroelectronics, Stretch, TranSwitch Corporation, and Victor Company of Japan (JVC).

Previous Page | News by Category | News Search

If you found this page useful, bookmark and share it on: