AltiVec floating-point processing capability to be incorporated in future Freescale QorIQ microprocessors

SAN JOSE, Calif., 27 Sept. 2010 Freescale Semiconductor Inc. in Austin, Texas, will incorporate its AltiVec vector processing technology into its multicore QorIQ microprocessor family later this year in a move expected to appeal particularly to aerospace and defense systems designers who need the floating-point processing that AltiVec provides, for advanced signal processing applications like sonar and radar processing, as well as image and video processing, Freescale announced today.

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SAN JOSE, Calif., 27 Sept. 2010 Freescale Semiconductor Inc. in Austin, Texas, will incorporate its AltiVec vector processing technology into its multicore QorIQ microprocessor family later this year in a move expected to appeal particularly to aerospace and defense systems designers who need the floating-point processing that AltiVec provides, for advanced signal processing applications like sonar and radar processing, as well as image and video processing, Freescale announced today.

"AltiVec has been a technology within Freescale for several years, and we are moving AltiVec into the QorIQ," says Stephen Turnbull, segment marketing manager for the high-end portfolio at Freescale Semiconductor's Networking Division. "We will bring that SIMD [single-instruction, multiple data] vector processing technology into the QorIQ. The aerospace and defense market has enjoyed that technology for many years."

Freescale made the announcement today at the Linley Processor Forum in San Jose, Calif. AltiVec technology had been an extremely popular part of Freescale's venerable PowerPC processors, which for years had been the de-facto standard for aerospace and defense signal processing applications. AltiVec addresses high-bandwidth data processing and algorithmic-intensive computations, delivering DSP-level performance for control and data path processing tasks.

Military and aerospace is key," Turnbull says. "We have received positive feedback for that segment." Typical aerospace and defense applications for the QorIQ processors with AltiVec technology include sonar, radar, and image processing -- including unmanned aerial vehicles with onboard video processing for video surveillance, he says.

"AltiVec runs FFT [fast Fourier transform algorithms], which is a classic floating point algorithm," Turnbull explains. "It has a broad data path, can issue multiple data and a single instruction, and process all that data simultaneously."

The PowerPC processor was unique in that it was able to perform general-purpose processing, as well as digital signal processing (DSP) in an era when these two computer tasks typically were performed by separate processor chips. Freescale had disappointed the aerospace and defense industry, however, when its leaders decided not to include AltiVec technology in its latest QorIQ processors.

Instead, Intel Corp. sought to fill the void when the company announced support in its latest microprocessors aimed at embedded systems applications for the kind of floating point processing that aerospace and defense systems designers need most. In recent months designers of high-performance embedded processing, such as Mercury Computer Systems of Chelmsford, Mass., have announced their commitments to the Intel processor roadmap.

The aerospace and defense embedded computing industry -- including companies such as Mercury Computer Systems in Chelmsford, Mass.; Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing in Ashburn, Va.; and General Electric Intelligent Platforms in Charlottesville, Va. will shortly be issuing statements of endorsement for Freescale's AltiVec announcement, says Glenn Beck, segment marketing manager for aerospace and defense and single board computing at Freescale Semiconductor.

Freescale will announce specific QorIQ microprocessor products announcements with AltiVec technology within the next few months, and product announcements from the single-board computing industry should come at about the same time, Beck says.

AltiVec technology extends the Freescale Power Architecture technology to capitalize on single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) vector processing, company officials say. AltiVec technology adds more than 180 instructions that operate concurrently with scalar integer and floating-point instructions. The additional instructions provide inter- and intra-vector integer and floating-point arithmetic as well as logical, conditional, permutation, and data movement functions.

For more information contact Freescale Semiconductor online at www.freescale.com/altivec.

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