Breakthrough Technology Spawns Supercomputer on a Chip: MPC7400 and AltiVecTM
By Kalpesh Gala, AltiVec Technology Product Manager, Motorola
Where do I get my AltiVecTM technology? What is an AltiVec processor? I want my AltiVec! Well you now can get this break-through technology in Motorola's new MPC7400 PowerPCTM microprocessor.
On 31 August 1999, Motorola announced this fourth-generation PowerPC microprocessor, which offers the industry's most powerful vector processing engine: Motorola's AltiVec technology. This revolutionary enhancement means that designers of high-bandwidth applications now enjoy supercomputing performance from a single-chip solution.
Exciting processing enhancements and groundbreaking features have caused industry luminaries to tout the MPC7400 as a "supercomputer on a chip." The 128-bit vector engine - the heart of AltiVec technology - is an extremely powerful and efficient execution unit that works concurrently with existing PowerPC computing engines. The MPC7400 processor uses a parallel-processing model called SIMD (Single Instruction-Multiple Data). AltiVec technology is the SIMD extension to the PowerPC architecture. While conventional processors generally execute one to three instructions per clock cycle, the MPC7400 can execute a record 20 operations per clock cycle.
Also contributing to its high performance, the MPC7400 supports up to two megabytes of backside level-two cache -- twice that of the award-winning MPC750 microprocessor. In addition, the MPC7400 implements a new high-bandwidth MPX bus that features minimized signal setup times, reduced idle cycles and the ability to operate the system bus at frequencies in excess of 100MHz.
The MPC7400 is Motorola's first microprocessor to be manufactured in the new copper 0.15 micron HiPerMOS fabrication process and the second product overall. Motorola has been shipping copper since February 1999, when it introduced the 8 Mbit Late Write SRAM device. The MPC7400 uses the same copper interconnect technology in conjunction with leading-edge CMOS technology with a 0.15-micron gate size. The use of copper in place of aluminum in our manufacturing process has improved circuit speeds, increased reliability and reduced manufacturing costs.
The MPC7400 and AltiVec technology are enjoying an early and rapid adoption by a variety of customers. Applications for this microprocessor range from the most powerful desktop computer to real-time video conferencing.