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Qualcomm announces Scorpion ARM processor

Posted by iTech - 2005-11-09

LONDON — Mobile phone technology company Qualcomm Inc. said it has entered the microprocessor industry with the development of a 1-GHz microprocessor called Scorpion intended for mobile phones. The processor was developed under an architectural license from ARM Holdings plc.
However, Qualcomm (San Diego, Calif.) did not make it clear whether the company has produced working silicon or only a design, nor whether the core is intended for its own use only, or whether the company was prepared to sell the chip to other phone makers.

Sanjay Jha, president of Qualcomm’s Qualcomm CDMA Technologies subsidiary, said in a statement issued Tuesday (Nov. 8) that Scorpion represented an expansion for the company from the wireless market into the microprocessor industry.

Scorpion, designed for implementation in a 65-nanometer manufacturing process, is intended for inclusion in mobile handsets where it would provide “consumer electronics” features, as well as providing superior mobile performance at reduced power consumption, Qualcomm said.

The company added that it would reveal more details, such as “MSM platform” chipsets and products that would use the Scorpion microprocessor, in 2006. MSM stands for Mobile Station Modem.

The Scorpion announcement revealed that Qualcomm is an architectural licensee for ARM’s ARMv7 instruction set. ARM seldom grants architectural licenses. It did so with Intel in the past, but more usually licensees a specific core together with immediate peripherals such as the ARM7 or ARM926.

Texas Instruments’, a Qualcomm rival, is also working with the ARMv7 instruction set at the 65-nanometer process node. TI announced it had licensed the Cortex-A8 processor core from ARM in October 2005.

According to Qualcomm, the Scorpion processor operates at up to 1-GHz clock frequency and provides up to eight times the performance of Qualcomm’s existing MSM solutions. A companion multimedia coprocessor to Scorpion implements ARM’s SIMD (single instruction multiple data) technology to provide an additional 8 billion operations per second for added multimedia capabilities, a key requirement for next-generation advanced mobile devices.

Qualcomm’s previous chips are based on a core implementation license from ARM. The use of an architectural license has allowed Qualcomm to include wireless-specific features that make the microprocessor suitable for mobile environments. Additional techniques, such as dynamic voltage scaling and dynamic clock scaling improve the power efficiency of the design, Qualcomm said.

“Qualcomm’s long-standing leadership in the wireless market and our expansion into the microprocessor industry with the development of Scorpion enable a highly optimized solution designed for the world's most advanced mobile devices,” said Sanjay K. Jha, president of Qualcomm’s Qualcomm CDMA Technologies subsidiary, in a statement.



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