News from ICASSP: New NEC Architecture for 3G

Submitted by BDTI on Fri, 06/01/2001 - 18:00

During last month's ICASSP conference in Salt Lake City, NEC unveiled the SPXK5, the company's latest DSP architecture. This low-power DSP targets 3G terminal applications with a dual-MAC VLIW architecture. The SPXK5's key competitors include TI's 'C55xx line, the ST100 from STMicroelectronics, StarCore's SC110, and the Micro Signal Architecture from Analog Devices and Intel. According to NEC, samples will be available by the end of this year, with commercial production scheduled for mid-2002.

In addition to its two MAC units, the SPXK5 has five other functional units: two ALUs, two address units, and a control unit; up to four of these seven units can operate in parallel during the same clock cycle. According to NEC, SPXK5 devices will operate at speeds of up to 250 MHz; at 200 MHz the SPXK5 is projected to have impressively low power consumption—50 mW at 0.9 volts. This compares favorably with the 'C55xx products, which at 200 MHz will consume 90-100 mW at 1.5-1.6 volts. NEC plans to fabricate the SPXK5 using a 0.13-micron process that yields a core size of two square millimeters.

NEC is not a well-known player in the DSP market, but their high sales volumes suggest that they should be—NEC has traditionally had the second-highest sales volumes for programmable DSPs in Japan (second only to TI, according to market research firm Forward Concepts). NEC's success with this new product will greatly depend on how it gets to market. To be competitive, NEC must deliver the SPXK5 on time, and provide solid application development infrastructure.

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