Motorola reveals new networking processors

Motorola announced two new additions to its roster of processors for the networking and telecommunications industry that consume less power at faster clock speeds than previous generations of Motorola processors, the company said Monday.

The MPC7457 and MPC7447 use the PowerPC instruction set, first developed by IBM Corp. The two chips are available at clock speeds up to 1.3GHz, an improvement over the older 7455 chips that ran at 1GHz, said Glenn Beck, marketing manager for the computing products systems division of Motorola Semiconductor.

The new chips consume only 13 to 15 watts of power at 1.3GHz, and at 1GHz, will consume between 8 and 10 watts, Beck said. The 1GHz 7455 chip consumed 18 watts of power, he said. This allows the 7457 and 7447 to be used in even smaller versions of the networking and medical imaging equipment in which they are currently used, he said.

Older processors from the Schaumburg, Illinois, company are commonly found in control plane devices in corporate networks, Beck said. The control plane acts to direct traffic within a router, taking incoming data and deciding where to send it. The newest processors will be used in those applications, and also in storage devices, he said.

Motorola's chip designers also added 256K bytes of L2 cache onto the chips, which allows frequently accessed data to be stored closer to the processor, improving performance. The 7457 and 7447 are practically identical, except for the support for additional L3 cache storage on the 7457, which makes the 7457 backwards-compatible with earlier 745x processors, Beck said.

Another key to the performance of the new processors is Motorola's AltiVec technology, Beck said. Designed as instruction set extensions to the PowerPC architecture, AltiVec allows a processor to execute multiple units of data with a single instruction, as opposed to conventional processors that process one unit of data per instruction, he said.

As part of Monday's announcement, Motorola is releasing new design tools and code libraries for developers working with AltiVec. System developers will be able to find frequently used pieces of code that they can integrate into their products, Beck said.

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