Freescale Semiconductor introduces the MSC8156 processor – a six-core device based on new SC3850 StarCore DSP core technology and designed to dramatically advance the capabilities of wireless broadband base station equipment. The MSC8156 is one of the industry’s first DSPs based on 45-nm process technology, endowing the part with performance, energy efficiency and form factor advantages. It delivers the flexibility, integration and affordability required for mainstream, near-term deployment of networks based on LTE and other next-generation wireless standards.
“Freescale’s ongoing investment in advanced networking technologies enables our customers to deliver richer, seamless and more compelling wireless experiences,” said Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of Freescale’s Networking & Multimedia Group. “The MSC8156 DSP offers the performance that OEMs and telecom carriers need to speed delivery of LTE and other next-generation wireless services.”
The MSC8156 is a single processor that replaces multiple discrete parts required by other solutions. When deployed in base station applications, the device is designed to deliver two times the performance of Freescale’s MSC8144 offering, which was previously the industry’s highest performing programmable DSP.
The exceptional performance of the MSC8156 supports the high data rates specified by the latest OFDMA standards and enables the high throughput and low latency requirements of next-generation base stations. The MSC8156, tuned for OFDMA-based systems providing up to five times greater spectral efficiency than many advanced HSPA networks, enables optimal economics for operators and opens the door to entirely new categories of end-user services.
“To meet growing demand for advanced 3G and 4G services, wireless infrastructure equipment manufacturers increasingly require silicon that offers exceptional performance and flexibility,” said Will Strauss, president of analyst firm Forward Concepts. “With the multicore MSC8156 DSP, Freescale has again demonstrated its ability to offer the advanced DSP technologies that its customers require. The MSC8156 is a landmark DSP that should significantly advance next-generation wireless infrastructure equipment.”
Acceleration technology adds flexibility and reduces cost
The MSC8156 DSP’s onboard Multi-Accelerator Platform Engine technology for baseband, called MAPLE-B, works in concert with the six fully programmable DSP cores to support the 3G-LTE, TDD-LTE, TD-SCDMA and WiMAX standards, as well as the symbol rate functionality of HSPA and HSPA+. Delivering multi-standard capabilities on a single platform eliminates the need to redesign hardware for different base station standards, so the device is scalable across macro-, micro- and pico-base station form factors. MAPLE-B includes Turbo, Viterbi, FFT and DFT processing engines and two configurable RISC engines, which can be reprogrammed in the future to accommodate updates.
Introducing StarCore SC3850 core technology
SC3850 core technology is Freescale’s newest generation of StarCore DSP cores. Key enhancements to the previous generation include a 2X increase in DSP multiplication capacity, significantly higher compiled code performance and an improved memory hierarchy. Micro-architectural improvements and new instructions enable the core to accelerate control functions, memory management and DSP code performance.
Development tools and software
Freescale offers a full set of development tools and enablement software for the MSC8156 device. The CodeWarrior[tm] Integrated Development Environment (IDE) leverages Eclipse[tm] technology to provide a highly comprehensive multicore development environment. It includes: C & C++ optimizing compilers, a source level debugger, core and device simulators, software analysis plug-ins for profiling and program/data trace, and the royalty-free SmartDSP operating system delivered with optimized device drivers. Development boards are available to enable software development along with a set of reference software components for 3G-LTE and other key algorithms.
Pricing and availability
Freescale plans to sample the MSC8156 to alpha customers during the first quarter of 2009. It is offered in a 783-pin FC-PBGA package. The company plans to offer the device in two versions, based on different core speeds of 800 Mhz and 1Ghz. Pricing is expected to start at $192 for 10K volumes.
About Freescale Semiconductor
Freescale Semiconductor is a global leader in the design and manufacture of embedded semiconductors for the automotive, consumer, industrial, networking and wireless markets. The privately held company is based in Austin, Texas, and has design, research and development, manufacturing or sales operations in more than 30 countries. Freescale is one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies with 2007 sales of $5.7 billion (USD).
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