Philips Semiconductors Inc, which has just begun shipping production samples of its Trimedia multimedia processor and its surrounding software development environment, has been talking up what it views as the core component in its multimedia offerings – a Very Long Instruction Word C and C++ scheduling compiler. The compiler will be available first as part […]
Philips Semiconductors Inc, which has just begun shipping production samples of its Trimedia multimedia processor and its surrounding software development environment, has been talking up what it views as the core component in its multimedia offerings – a Very Long Instruction Word C and C++ scheduling compiler. The compiler will be available first as part of the company’s TriMedia Software Development Environment. The VLIW technology was first prototyped in 1989 by Gerrit Slavenburg, who is now chief architect for the TriMedia Product Group at Philips research labs in Sunnyvale, California. VLIW maps well with the characteristics of media processing and streams of media data, which tend to be easy to parallelize. The key breakthrough, says Philips, and the differentiation from other VLIW media processors from the likes of Chromatic Research Inc and Samsung Electronics Co, was the decision to take instruction scheduling off the hardware and into the compiler. This enables the single-chip TriMedia to be smaller, faster and fabricated at a lower cost, and developers can write multimedia applications entirely in C and C++ rather than machine-level code that’s usual in the world of single function digital signal processors. The development kit also includes a real-time operating system – pSOS from Santa Clara, California-based Integrated Systems Inc – and application development libraries with algorithms such as MPEG-1, MPEG-2, V.34 modem, H.32x video conferencing, audio synthesis, two- and three-dimensional geometric modeling and rendering. The Trimedia TM-1 chip, initially at 100MHz and 0.5 CMOS, will begin volume shipments in the first quarter of next year. It should reach 166MHz within a year, and with software tweaks Philips reckons there’s room in that timescale for a four times improvement on current performance, said to be four billion operands per second. The Trimedia will run as a dedicated CPU for consumer devices, or as a PC co-processor connected via direct PCI bus, and chips are expected to cost around $50 each in large quantities. The software carries license charges from $15,000. Apple Computer is rumored to take the Trimedia technology for its PowerExpress line, due in mid 1997, and Microsoft has mentioned the chip in conjunction with its Talisman graphics software architecture. Philips is also looking for others to license its core technology.