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LSI Logic Introduces a Compressed Code 16/32-BIT TinyRISC(TM) Microprocessor

Low-Cost, 16-bit Embedded Processing Applications

MILPITAS, Calif., Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Substantial cost reductions in embedded processing applications will result with the 16/32-bit code compressed TinyRISC(TM) TR4101 microprocessor announced by LS1 Logic (NYSE: LSI), today. Aimed at serving a broad range of consumer and communications products, the TinyRISC microprocessor is ideal for use in cellular telephones, video games, set-top boxes, internet appliances, office automation, satellite broadcast receivers, digital cameras, data storage, scanners, routers, smart cards, and others where overall system cost is a major design consideration.

Produced in LSI Logic's advanced 0.25-micron (Leff) Gl0(TM) CMOS process, the TinyRISC microprocessor core derives its "tiny" name from the compression of the instruction code word-length from 32- to 16-bits. Additionally, the TR4101, TinyRISC microprocessor core requires only 2-mm(2) of silicon making it the world's smallest microprocessor.

The TinyRISC processor is based on the new MIPS(16)(TM) instruction set architecture (ISA) that was jointly developed by LSI Logic and the MIPS Technologies, Inc. division of Silicon Graphics, Inc (NYSE: SGI). Reduced Instruction Set Computers (RISC) use instructions that are much shorter than those used in CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computers) like those found in the personal computer. The TR4101 TinyRISC microprocessor unit (MPU) not only offers a 40% reduction in the RISC code size from over 106 instructions in MIPS II to only 38 instructions, at the same time, it also cuts system memory requirements up to 40% resulting in substantial system cost savings.

While the TinyRISC/MIPS(16) compressed code size is only 60% of the uncompressed MIPS-II code size, the overall performance of the TR4101 is equivalent to 85% of the full 32-bit uncompressed ISA.

Code compression permits the microprocessor to operate with a combination of short 16-bit instruction words or existing 32-bit instructions. The latest addition to the LSI Logic array of CoreWare(R) library functions, the TR4101 TinyRISC microprocessor provides a 40% reduction in total instruction code size compared to the 32-bit MiniRISC(TM) microprocessors using the MIPS II instruction set architecture. For system on a chip designs, LSI Logic offers an extensive line of MIP/RISC based core microprocessors.

"Designers using embedded processors are looking for higher performance, lower cost, and fastest time to market. It's that simple," notes Jim Panfil, Director of Marketing for LSI Logic's CoreWare Products Group. "Today, embedded systems engineers are faced with the alternatives of CISC versus RISC processors, with RISC architectures becoming increasingly more favored. The significant benefits of RISC are smaller chip size, higher performance, and lower cost. The last barrier has been the 32-bit code size, and now we're offering the compressed 16/32-bit TinyRISC microprocessor that fills this need," Panfil concluded.

Most Popular RISC architectures use instructions that are fixed at a 32-bit length. Even simple instructions must be written in the 32-bit format. The TinyRISC processor, combined with the MIPS-16 architecture, uses anew instruction set that is based on a 16-bit format. The format used actually is mixed-mode 16/32-bits so that existing 32-bit instructions can be used with the new processor. The TinyRISC CPU uses a true subset of the MIPS-I and II architectures making it possible to translate 32-bit instructions into 16-bit format and to decompress 16-bit instructions on-the-fly into the equivalent 32-bit instructions that are executed by the MPU pipeline. These instructions are fully compatible with the existing MIPS-II(TM) instruction set architecture (ISA) and binaries.

The 16-bit format produces very significant cost savings in the total system; most notably, by slashing the amount of system memory needed. An average cellular telephone hand set uses about two-megabytes of 32-bit code for just the operating system, not counting number storage etc. Using the TinyRISC MPU, the memory requirements can be reduced by 40% or the total amount of system memory available for other functions like number storage can be greatly expanded.

In 1995, the worldwide embedded microprocessor market accounted for shipments of 1.5-billion, eight-bit microprocessors and another 0.3-billion, 16-bit microprocessors for a total available market of 1.8-billion units, according to Dataquest and other industry analyst estimates. About 90% of all MIPS architecture processors produced are used in embedded applications. Moreover, the MIPS Technologies, Inc. standard RISC architecture is found in a wide range of systems, more so than any other type of RISC architecture. Some industry analysts predict the average home will use about 250 embedded microprocessors by the end of this century in products ranging from TV remote controls to Internet browser boxes.

LSI Logic will accept designs using the TinyRISC processor core beginning in December, 1996, and full support material will be available including sample processors, evaluation boards, and RTL models at that time. The design evaluation kit will be priced at approximately $3995. Packaged TR4101 microprocessors are expected to sell for about $10, and the core version could sell for about $25 when combined with other significant functions in a system-on-a-chip design. Both prices are for large quantity orders.

Design support will include GNUpro development tools from Cygnus Support. These tools will allow LSI Logic customers using the Cygnus tools to develop C and C++ applications optimized for the TinyRISC MPU. The basic GNU development tool chain is available on the Internet. Cygnus Support provides the specific development support for TinyRISC microprocessor using the GNU Tool Chain which consists of the GNU C/C++ compilers, a remote source level debugger with GUI, macro-assembler, linker/loader, libraries, binary file utilities, and instruction support services for the Cygnus GNUpro products.

LSI Logic Corporation, The System on a Chip Company, is a leading supplier of custom high-performance semiconductors, with operations worldwide. The company enables customers to build complete systems on a single chip with its CoreWare(R) design program, thereby increasing performance, lowering system costs and accelerating time to market. LSI Logic develops application-optimized products in partnership with trend setting customers, and operates leading-edge, high-volume manufacturing facilities to produce submicron chips. The company maintains a high level of quality, as demonstrated by its ISO 9000 certifications. LSI Logic is headquartered at 1551 McCarthy Blvd., Milpitas, California 95035, 408-433-8000, http://www.lsilogic.com.

NOTE: The LSI Logic logo design and CoreWare are registered trademarks, and The System on a Chip Company, TinyRISC, MiniRISC and G1O are trademarks of LSI Logic Corporation. All other brand or product names may be trademarks, or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
SOURCE LSI Logic Corp.
CONTACT: Bill Groves, Public Relations of LSI, 408-954-4647