Accelerating its less-than-subtle transformation into a DSP-intensive company, Zilog Inc. today will unveil details of its Cartezian communications architecture, which is based on a DSP-optimized RISC core.
The introduction closely follows the roll-out of Zilog's eZ80, an enhanced version of its Z80 architecture that the company is targeting at Internet-access applications by building in features such as a TCP/IP protocol stack and other DSP-style capabilities.
"Cartezian provides customers with high-performance embedded communications solutions, enabling them to link their applications in networks and through the Internet," said Curtis Crawford, chairman, president, and chief executive of the Campbell, Calif., company.
Zilog officials envision the Cartezian architecture as a platform for a series of communications-related products, with the first offerings targeted at router and switch applications. The Cartezian devices feature a 200-mips, 32-bit RISC processor with optimized DSP functionality, and RISC/DSP co-processors, communications peripherals, and software stacks.
"Zilog has been very busy, and they're obviously getting a very clear focus on DSP," said Will Strauss, an analyst at Forward Concepts Co., Tempe, Ariz. "Communications is the market everyone wants to be in, and DSP is the critical technology. Zilog's new focus is not surprising, consider-ing Curtis Crawford's background at Lucent. They seem to be a company to be reckoned with going forward."
The Cartezian family is based on a distributed architecture featuring co-processors at the edge of the core that process Layer 1 to Layer 3 communications protocols. The architecture creates a non-blocking system by removing communication bottlenecks between different peripherals and software stacks, said Didier Lelannic, senior vice president and general manager of Zilog's Communications Business Unit.
The line will be targeted at networking solutions for everything from the home office to the central office, while the eZ80 will address the Internet-connectivity market.
Future versions of the Cartezian line will integrate video, RISC, and DSP bridges to more directly address the communications convergence market, Lelannic said. Cartezian also will "bridge the gap" between DSP and RISC by promising the programming simplicity of RISC and the processing power of DSP.
"Cartezian is the ultimate weapon to deliver development flexibility, while dramatically reducing system development time and time- to-market," Lelannic said.
The device includes a 10/100-Gbit Ethernet media-access controller to provide access to LANs, an ATM SAR peripheral with a Utopia communications interface to re-serialize data packets, and a PCI bus to provide access to system interfaces.
The software stack includes memory-mapped peripherals with API access, a variety of codecs, a TCP/IP stack, and collateral stack to enable Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Web-management capabilities.
"The new Zilog is greatly expanding its DSP capabilities with the introduction of Cartezian," Strauss said. "It's a new approach to providing for fast OEM-specific designs. With the TCP/IP stack, Internet-specific product designs become much easier to implement. DSP-intensive applications such as smart phones for VoIP over LAN, DSL, or cable become quickly realizable."
Zilog plans to release a Cartezian development platform in first-quarter 2000, and deliver the first router and switch devices in the second half, Lelannic said. Pricing will be based on integrated peripheral functionality.
"A lot of companies like Intel are trying to address the communications market with raw processing power," he said. "But in communications, it's not just the processor. ... We'll provide an advantage in reduced ASP, while enabling our customer to reduce his development time from years to months."