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Customizing Processors


The design, verification, and implementation of a processor is the core competence of some companies, but others just want to whip up a small processor as quickly and cheaply as possible. What tools and options exist? Processors range from very small, simple cores that are deeply embedded into products to those operating at the highest possible clock speeds and throughputs in data centers. I... » read more

What Future Processors Will Look Like


Mark Papermaster, CTO at AMD, sat down with Semiconductor Engineering to talk about architectural changes that are required as the benefits of scaling decrease, including chiplets, new standards for heterogeneous integration, and different types of memory. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. SE: What does a processor look like in five years? Is it a bunch of chips in a package? I... » read more

How To Optimize A Processor


Optimizing any system is a multi-layered problem, but when it involves a processor there are at least three levels to consider. Architects must be capable of thinking across these boundaries because the role of each of the layers must be both understood and balanced. The first level of potential optimization is at the system level. For example, how does data come in and out of the processing... » read more

New Robots Require New Ways To Think About Processors


We’re on the cusp of a revolution in robots. After years of relatively moderate growth, sales of commercial and industrial robots are slated to grow by 25% to 35% per year over the next decade, according to Boston Consulting Group, and could reach $260 billion by 2030 to meet the demands of manufacturers, retailers and others to streamline supply chains, enhance safety and boost productivity.... » read more

Choosing Which Tasks To Optimize In Chips


The optimization of one or more tasks is an important aspect of every SoC created, but with so many options now on the table it is often unclear which is best. Just a few years ago, most people were happy to buy processors from the likes of Intel, AMD and Nvidia, and IP cores from Arm. Some even wanted the extensibility that came from IP cores like Tensilica and ARC. Then, in 2018, John Henn... » read more

Semiconductor Scaling Is Failing — What Next For Processors?


This in-depth paper looks at the changing dynamics in the semiconductor industry. In other words, why many companies are looking to customize their processor designs to keep pace with software and system demands. It goes onto highlight the opportunities available to companies of all sizes, in seeking to differentiate and specialize their processor designs. Click here to read more. » read more

Why Comparing Processors Is So Difficult


Every new processor claims to be the fastest, the cheapest, or the most power frugal, but how those claims are measured and the supporting information can range from very useful to irrelevant. The chip industry is struggling far more than in the past to provide informative metrics. Twenty years ago, it was relatively easy to measure processor performance. It was a combination of the rate at ... » read more

Assuring Reliable Processor Performance At Scale


In today’s data center environment, resilience is key. Cloud providers are built on as-a-service business models, where uptime is critical to ensure their customers’ business continuity. Reputation and competitiveness require service at extremely high performance, low power, and increasing functionality, with zero tolerance for unplanned downtime or errors. If you’re a hyperscaler, o... » read more

How To Extend The ‘Unscalable’ RISC Architectures


A couple of years ago, Erik McClure (a Microsoft software developer, at the time) published a blog entitled RISC Is Fundamentally Unscalable.  This blog was really quite interesting and made some very good points about the limitations of a pure RISC design. The limitations of a pure RISC design It takes me back: some of my first marketing tasks were around the religious war between RISC ... » read more

Amdahl Limits On AI


Software and hardware both place limits on how fast an application can run, but finding and eliminating the limitations is becoming more important in this age of multicore heterogeneous processing. The problem is certainly not new. Gene Amdahl (1922-2015) recognized the issue and published a paper about it in 1967. It provided the theoretical speedup for a defined task that could be expected... » read more

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