Sunday, September 26, 2010
Freescale may be rethinking its commitment to AltiVec technology in its latest QorIQ family of processors
Posted by John Keller
The aerospace and defense embedded computing industry is buzzing with rumors that Freescale Semiconductor Inc. in Austin, Texas, may be rethinking its commitment to AltiVec vector processing technology and its provision for floating-point processing in Freescale's latest family of QorIQ high-performance microprocessors.
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. 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. The company's decision to abandon AltiVec in its QorIQ family has led leaders in the aerospace and defense embedded computing industry to embrace the latest processors from Intel Corp. for high-performance embedded signal-processing applications.
Intel moved 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 coming week may hold some interesting announcements, not only from Freescale, but also by some well-known embedded signal processing companies concerning the QorIQ and AltiVec. Stay tuned.