Motorola plugs low-power PowerPC chip

Summary:The new PowerPC chip is a lower-power version of the chip now used in Macs. The new chip will also be smaller--the answer for networking needs.

Catering to customers in the networking-equipment realm, Motorola announced a new, lower-power version of its top-rated PowerPC chip Monday.

The new chip, dubbed PowerPC 7440, was announced along with a flurry of other new networking-oriented chips at the Motorola semiconductor product sector's Smart Networks Developers Forum in New Orleans on Monday.

The new PowerPC chip is a lower-power version of the company's PowerPC 7450 processor, now used in Apple Computer's Macintosh desktops. While Motorola supplies a large number of processors to Apple, the chipmaker derives the majority of its business from the networking-equipment market, where its chips are used in a wide range of products.

In addition to being less power hungry, the new PowerPC 7440 will be physically smaller than the PowerPC 7450. This will help the 7440 chip fit better into the tight confines of networking equipment, such as network routers.

The 7440 chip offers lower voltage--1.5V, versus the 7450's 1.8V--resulting in lower average power consumption: about 11 watts at 600MHz vs. the 7450's 14 watts at 533MHz. The 7440's smaller size will come from the elimination of a level 3 cache, which Motorola says is not needed for networking.

The PowerPC 7440 will ship in the fourth quarter, at 600MHz and 700MHz clock speeds.

"PowerPC is the cornerstone of our strategy when it comes to networking," said Daniel Artusi, vice president and general manager of Motorola's Networking and Computing Systems Group, in an interview with News.com.

However, the new PowerPC processor wasn't the only networking chip Motorola announced on Monday. The company also revealed several new communications chips, including a new digital signal processor, the DSP56321. A DSP chip is used to refine signals such as a voice being transmitted with a cellular phone. The new DSP chip, set to begin shipments in the third quarter of this year, will be used in devices such as cellular base stations. Motorola says the 56321 chip is also its first chip to be announced using its 0.13-micron manufacturing process.

Company executives also revealed a tidbit on Motorola's upcoming fifth generation of PowerPC processors at the developer forum. This "G5" family of chips will be designed to offer higher performance for devices such as set-top boxes and automotive telematics, they said.

Topics: Processors, Hardware

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