Tundra to help Intel prime XScale for storage

Intel has tapped Tundra Semiconductor Corp. of Ottawa to jointly work on system interconnects to give the XScale chip architecture a role in storage applications, Tundra announced Tuesday.

"We will be focusing on mid-range to high-end storage systems, such as RAID (redundant array of independent disks) systems. The new products will have easier capabilities of managing storage with higher throughput. Users will be able to manage more data at lower costs," said Richard O'Connor, Tundra's chief technology officer.

Tundra's system interconnect chips are used for internal system communications, such as between processors and memory or peripheral controllers.

Intel, in Santa Clara, California, has been developing the XScale architecture to produce XScale processors for networking and more recently for processors used in cellular and smart phones. Code-named Manitoba, the cellular and smart phone XScale processors are expected to make it to market later this year.

"We've been working with Intel for months on this agreement and are now very familiar with Intel's road map, though we are under a nondisclosure agreement and cannot discuss the fine details of what we are developing. I can say that one of the most compelling aspects to XScale from our point of view, is that it is very scalable. Supporting the Intel XScale microarchitecture is key to the evolution of our system interconnect offerings for the storage market," O'Connor said.

Intel representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

The "multimillion dollar" deal with Intel is a "multiyear" collaborative agreement, said Jim Roche, Tundra's president and chief executive officer, though he declined to be more specific about the terms.

"Intel will be funding Tundra to carry out the development work which will take place here in Canada and in our research and development center in South Portland, Maine," Roche said.

Intel was drawn to Tundra by the breath of its intellectual property, its broad product portfolio and Tundra's track record for bringing system interconnect products to market quickly, Roche said.

Applications for system interconnect include wireless infrastructure, optical networking, LAN and WAN (wide area network) networking and network access, Roche said.

Current Tundra customers include IBM Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., and Siemens AG. Tundra also has strategic alliances with Motorola Inc. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Roche said.

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