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Toshiba Shrinks Two New RISC Chips

Japanese electronics maker Toshiba Tuesday took the wraps off two new versions of its TX49 family of MIPS-based reduced instruction set computer (RISC) microprocessors.

The new chips, designated TMPR4955CFG-400 (32-bit) and TMPR4956CXBG-400 (64-bit), are the first in company history fabricated with 90-nanometer (nm) complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process technology and are based on the company's TX49/H4 core.

Running at a top speed of 400MHz, the company said the processors use the SysAD bus interface scheme and are designed for embedded applications such as color laser printers, high-performance set-top boxes and networking devices that handle large amounts of graphics data.

The company's San Jose, Calif.-based America Electronic Components division (TAEC) said the two chips are also noteworthy because they only use 0.6 of a watt.

"Toshiba continues to migrate its standard 64-bit MIPS RISC processors to higher and higher frequencies for applications that require higher CPU performance," TAEC vice president Shardul Kazi said in a statement. "Customers tell us that they like having the ability to switch from earlier, lower-frequency versions to the new processors while keeping the same companion chip. System architects use our processors with either off-the- shelf SysAD-compatible chipsets to save development time or develop their own specific solutions around the SysAD bus with greater customization."

The company says samples of TMPR4955CFG-400 and TMPR4956CXBG-400 are scheduled to be available in August 2003. Pricing is currently estimated to be $35.00 per piece in 100-piece quantities for TMPR4955CFG-400 and $45.00 per piece for 100-piece quantities for TMPR4956CXBG-400. Mass production is slated for the end of the year.

Since 1989, Toshiba has been developing high-performance TX-RISC series microprocessors based on technology licensed from MIPS Technologies for use in embedded applications.

After years of abuse from the x86 crowd, RISC chips have seen a resurgence of late in the server and workstation marketplace.

IBM and Sun Microsystems are currently working on revised versions of their high-end processors to fend off advances by Intel.