Toshiba, Simplex tout new chip design method

X Architecture, a new design for system-on-a-chip processors, was detailed Monday by Toshiba and Simplex Solutions. The companies also said that a new industry group has formed to support the design, meant to reduce both the size and power consumption of chips by making better use of the space on each chip.

X Architecture eliminates the "Manhattan" architecture that has dominated chip design for the past 20 years, and starts over from scratch, the companies said. Manhattan architecture is so named because the right angles interconnect between wires resembling a city grid. By directing these wires diagonally across the chip, X architecture reduces the amount of wiring needed by 20 percent, while resulting in 10 percent better performance, 20 percent less power dissipation, and 30 percent more chips per wafer, the companies said.

Using liquid routing technology from circuit design company Simplex, interconnects can branch off diagonally in any of eight directions, instead of simple right angles, the companies said.

Also on Monday, a group of companies announced the formation of the X Initiative, a five-year initiative aimed at "accelerating the availability and fabrication of the X Architecture," Toshiba and Simplex said in a statement.

The consortium will gather industry leaders from fields including intellectual property, integrated circuit (IC) design services and semiconductor equipment and manufacturing. Charter members include DuPont Photomasks, Applied Materials, Virtual Silicon Technology, as well as Simplex and Toshiba.

Membership is open to all companies throughout the semiconductor supply chain, and the group's first public meeting will be June 19, at the Design Automation Conference in Las Vegas.

More information about the X Architecture, including the technologies behind it, will be presented at a symposium on June 13.

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