Yamaha R1 Forum: YZF-R1 Forums banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Life: Comedy or Tragedy?
Joined
·
37,587 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is cool. :cool:

http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/12984176.htm




Chip maker emerges from stealth mode

By Dean Takahashi

Mercury News

It isn't easy to hide a 150-employee microprocessor chip start-up in Silicon Valley.

But Dan Dobberpuhl managed to do it for two years, and he had his reasons. For one, he had to keep his product secret from much bigger rivals.

Concealing his team inside two floors of the McAfee high-rise building in Santa Clara, he asked new recruits to get on board without knowing what the company was doing. Once they were working, he asked them not to tell their spouses what they were working on.

""It was tricky to hire people without telling them what they would do,'' he said. ""We had to say, "Trust us. It's good.' ''

Dobberpuhl is taking the wraps off his stealth company, P.A. Semi, today at the Fall Processor Forum in San Jose. P.A. Semi has a team of all-star chip designers who are creating a variant of the PowerPC microprocessor that balances low-power consumption with high performance.

The chips could be built into lightweight networked electronics, including a set-top box that could store digital media such as movies or music in the living room as securely as any corporate network. And it capitalizes on Dobberpuhl's heritage as a pioneer in chip design.

Dobberpuhl was among the first to notice that power consumption was the fundamental problem to tackle in designing chips, because as chips get faster and faster, they produce more and more heat and even run the risk of melting down. That's a lesson that just about every chip maker now recognizes. And that kind of vision was one reason why Dobberpuhl's last start-up sold for $2.2 billion.

""We have made some breakthroughs and will set the bar in performance for every watt of power that the chip consumes,'' he said.

P.A. Semi's chip, dubbed the PWRficient Processor, is expected to make its debut next year in a variety of communications equipment. Dobberpuhl and his chief designers, Jim Keller and Pete Bannon, foresee a family of low-power PowerPC chips that could span everything from handhelds to video game consoles to supercomputers.

That business plan will put them into competition not only with smaller chip companies, it will also put them at odds with IBM, Motorola spin-off Freescale Semiconductor, Broadcom, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and a variety of others. While P.A. Semi is puny compared to those competitors, it has star talent and a fanatical focus.

""The pedigree is awesome,'' said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight64 in Saratoga. ""These are all folks who have done this kind of work before.''

Dobberpuhl, Bannon and Keller all worked together at Digital Equipment Corp. Dobberpuhl moved to Palo Alto in 1993 and led the team that created the low-power StrongArm chip, which Intel later acquired and now uses as the flagship for its cell phone Xscale chips. Dobberpuhl and Keller struck gold at their previous chip start-up Sibyte, which they sold in 2001 to Broadcom for $2.2 billion.

P.A. Semi has negotiated a PowerPC license from IBM, and it has hired an unnamed contract manufacturer to build its chips in an advanced factory starting in 2006.

Dobberpuhl's idea was to start from scratch to make a power-efficient chip with tricks such as turning off parts of the chip that are idle. The company has applied for 50 patents.

The first chip will have two brains, or cores, on a single chip. In addition, the microprocessor will also include the functions of two other support chips.

The chip will run at 2.5 gigahertz, but will only consume 5 watts to 13 watts. Similar chips can consume five to 10 times that amount.

It remains to be seen if P.A. Semi targeted the right market. Kevin Krewell, editor in chief at the Microprocessor Report, believes the company originally wanted to make low-power PowerPC microprocessors for Apple Computer's laptops. But Apple's plan to migrate to Intel chips spoiled that.

P.A. Semi is also too late to get into the newest video game consoles from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft -- all of which are using IBM PowerPC chips. Over time, Dobberpuhl thinks his company will have a good chance with future game machines.

""There are huge barriers when you start something brand new,'' Dobberpuhl said.
 

·
we meat again
Joined
·
18,549 Posts
wow... very interesting... amazing how they can hide 150 employees for 2 years... :eek:

Wonder how much :dollar they invested to keep those people's mouth shut... :eek:


It will be a big step forward for consumer products when it's ready... :cool:



:corn
 

·
Searching for Greener Pastures
Joined
·
11,154 Posts
:jump When companies compete, the consumer usually wins!:yesnod
 

·
Life: Comedy or Tragedy?
Joined
·
37,587 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't think they paid anything more to keep the employees quiet. I think once they realized what they were doing, they were happy to stay quiet.

I'll be happy to see these come out. :yesnod
 

·
127.0.0.1 -E
Joined
·
687 Posts
Sigh. I've been hopeful over many years for a legitmate challenger to Intel / AMD but everyone else has come up short. I hope they put up a better fight than say, Cyrix did in the late 90's. But as R1_RX1 says
When companies compete, the consumer usually wins!
:thumbup that would be good, cause it's coming near time for me to upgrade again.
 

·
Life: Comedy or Tragedy?
Joined
·
37,587 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It'll be very difficult for me to break away from AMD. I've used Intel, Cyrix and AMD for desktop systems and I prefer my AMD's.


I've used a lot of other processors as well in the server market:

PA-RISC
Power PC
Alpha


Those just a few... Out of them all, I prefer the AMD's first, then the Alpha's second.
 

·
Life: Comedy or Tragedy?
Joined
·
37,587 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
As long as it does what you need it to do, then that's all that counts Harley. :thumbup
 

·
Life: Comedy or Tragedy?
Joined
·
37,587 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Let me know what you're looking for an I can help you out either with information, or building it. :thumbup
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top