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Introduction to AltiVec Technology:
Why Use AltiVec Technology?

Application Advantages of AltiVec Technology

The AltiVecTM technology centerpiece is a new 128-bit vector execution unit which operates concurrently with traditional integer and floating-point units. This vector unit, with its highly parallel operations, can address demanding mathematical computations that today are often handled by off-chip devices such as custom ASICs or DSP farms. By adding this vector math capability to a core processor, AltiVec Technology allows a "one part - one code base" approach, simplifying design while increasing performance.

This is a short vector architecture, in contrast to the long vector architectures of supercomputers, where vector sizes range up to hundreds of elements. Short vectors, while not optimal for some esoteric scientific calculations, are extremely useful in applications such as signal processing, telephony, Internet routing, image processing, and multimedia. AltiVec technology also incorporates wide data paths, accelerating such traditional operations as memory copies, string compares, and page clears.

Applications implement AltiVec technology with software in a high level language, usually C or C++. These programmable solutions can, of course, migrate via software upgrades to add enhancements or meet new requirements. The overall application flexibility and investment protection is much greater than implementations using application specific integrated circuits.

For a great many compute intensive applications, AltiVec technology means simpler system designs, improved performance, and the flexibility of high-level software implementations.