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P.A. Semi's Low-Power POWER Chip

P.A. Semi today announced the release of PWRficient (cq) 1682M processor, a stripped-down version of IBM's POWER processor designed for embedded systems with a significantly lower power draw.

POWER processors are high-performance chips, used in System i and System p machines as well as BladeCenter machines. As such, it would be the last chip to use in a low-power system, such as embedded computers.

The chips run at 2GHz, come with two 64-bit cores and an L2 cache and have the memory and I/O controller on the chip, all at a draw of 25 watts. The standard POWER chip doesn't have the memory or I/O controllers on chip and runs at 100 watts.

"This is what we've been telling our customers we'd do and they didn't believe it," Pete Bannon, vice president of architecture and verification at P.A. Semi told internetnews.com. "Now we have silicon to prove we're not blowing smoke."

Because of its low power, the PWRficient fits into places other designs, namely the POWER chip, couldn't fit. P.A.'s primary markets will be datacom, telecom, storage and aerospace.

One reason those are good markets for P.A. is the POWER processor is already being used in those markets in other systems, according to Mark Hayter, chief systems architect for P.A. Semi. "So from a software point of view, we have a compatibility with the existing software being run in those systems."

David Wormstone, director of the single board computer integrated product team for Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing, said this would be ideal for many lightweight military projects, such as unmanned drones.

"Military gear is reaching weight limits," he told internetnews.com. "With low space and low size comes low power because there's only so much they can carry to generate the power. So a high-performance, low-power processor helps us keep up with the technology for these vehicles."

P.A. Semi expects to begin volume shipments in the fourth quarter of this year.