National Semiconductor Sets High-performance, Low-power Standards with Next-generation Geode Processor Family Designed for Information Appliances
New IA Processor Increases Performance for Streaming Media at Extremely Low Power Consumption Reference Design Platform Ensures Fast Development and Time-to-Market
Santa Clara, CA --
National Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE: NSM), the world's leading technology provider for the information appliance (IA) market, today unveiled a new Geode™ family of x86-based, highly-integrated processors designed exclusively for information appliances. Setting new standards for high performance and low power consumption, the next-generation Geode processor will redefine the entire range of future Internet access devices in both consumer and enterprise applications. Details of the new family were being discussed today at the Microprocessor Forum in San Jose, California.
The introduction of the Geode GX2 family is National's latest move to extend its leadership in providing optimized technology for information appliances such as thin clients, digital set-top boxes, residential gateways and personal Internet access devices. The new Geode family is designed from the ground up for full-featured multimedia across broadband Internet connections. An optimal IA solution with a high level of integration, the GX2 family offers a no-compromise streaming media experience at extremely lower power consumption levels.
Power consumption is less than 1 watt in typical applications and merely 3 watts for streaming media-intensive applications. Future devices built on National's new processors will fulfill the wish list of most demanding users of the Internet and intranets, offering ease-of-use; increased performance for streaming audio and video; and improved functionality, portability and affordability.
"OEMs in the information appliance space are feeling the effects of two market drivers - the demand for increased device performance and the need for decreased power consumption," said Keith White, senior director of marketing for the Embedded and Appliance Platforms Group at Microsoft Corporation. "The combination of National's Geode GX2 reference platform and either Windows XP Embedded or Windows CE will deliver on both trends, allowing next-generation Internet access device OEMs to quickly bring innovative new solutions to their customers that incorporate both high performance and lower power usage."
"National's Geode GX2 platform enables exciting features for our digital TV and set-top box applications running Linux," said Gregory Haerr, CEO of Century Software. "We will take advantage of National's new high-performance x86 architecture to speed development time, shorten customers' time-to-market and reduce overall costs."
At the heart of the new GX2 processor is National's ground-breaking GeodeLink™ IA system architecture which enables high-performance and low-power designs, improved silicon design productivity and reuse of intellectual property (IP). With performance that optimally addresses both low-cost and high-performance Internet access devices, the GX2 processor delivers an unparalleled performance/power/price combination made possible by the innovative architecture and design.
"National has been consistently delivering technological innovations to push the limits and enable the capabilities of information appliances since 1997," said Michael Polacek, vice president of Information Appliance division at National Semiconductor. "What we are announcing today is a unique silicon solution that clearly sets us apart from the competition. More importantly, our Geode GX2 processors will allow customers to bring to market exciting new products that have not been possible in the past."
Geode GX2 Enables High Performance and Low Power
National's Geode GX2 family is the first x86-based integrated processors developed specifically for the IA market. Designed on the 0.15-micron process technology, the Geode GX2 processor includes the following features: high-performance x86 CPU core with 3DNow!? instructions, 16K Instruction and 16K Data caches, and architectural enhancements for optimal streaming multimedia. Additionally, the GX2 family integrates a SDRAM / double-data-rate (DDR)-SDRAM memory controller, 32-bit 2D graphics controller, PCI-66 interface, high resolution 1600x1200x24 bit display with video scaling, CRT digital-to-analog converters (DACs) and a unified memory architecture (UMA) DSTN/TFT controller.
The new Geode family's high-performance and low-power standards are achieved through the GeodeLink architecture, a single on-chip interconnect that facilitates the integration of modules and allows use of UMA. This architecture provides 6 GB/s on-chip bandwidth, up to 2 GB/s memory bandwidth, advanced diagnostics, and active hardware power management that reduces power with innovative architectural power-saving techniques.
By providing optimal levels of integration, hardware acceleration and processing power, the Geode GX2 family offers the best mix of performance, power and cost for next-generation information appliances.
Complete Solution Facilitates Customization and Time-to-Market
National also developed a reference design platform based on the Geode GX2 family of processors targeting Internet access devices. The Geode GX2 family is the first based on the GeodeLink system architecture that includes on-chip support for software debugging, enabling high-performance peripherals.
The GeodeLink architecture employs a modular reusable design methodology and provides software reusability via a virtual PCI approach, allowing legacy PCI drivers developed for discrete components to function seamlessly when the IP is integrated onto a single chip. Reducing the risk of adding and efficiently de-coupling of IP development allow National to more quickly develop and verify new products in response to market and customers' time-to-market needs.
The Geode GX2 reference platform makes IA design simpler. This platform includes CRT/TFT output, DDR-SDRAM and SDRAM support, universal serial bus (USB) support, 4 PCI slots for easy development and additional boards for increased functionality: flash support, super I/O and touch screen controller. It also comes with firmware and drivers to support such operating systems as Microsoft Windows XP, Windows XP Embedded and Windows CE; Lineo; Tuxia; RedHat; Century Software and other versions of Linux. The JTAG interface on silicon ensures fast and easy software development.
Pricing, Packaging and Availability
Packaged in a 368-pin enhanced ball grid array (EBGA), National Semiconductor's Geode GX2 processor, together with a companion chip, is priced below US$50 each in high volume. Production is expected in the first half of 2002.
About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor is the premier analog company driving the information age. Combining real-world analog and state-of-the-art digital technology, the company is focused on the fast growing markets for wireless handsets; information appliances; information infrastructure; and display, imaging and human interface technologies. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $2.1 billion for fiscal year 2001 and employs about 9,700 people worldwide.