SANTA CLARA, Calif. The boom in the electronic-gaming industry, which is continuing even as the personal computer market is shrinking, is stoking the demand for faster microprocessors that must also consume less power.
That was the main message delivered here Monday (Nov. 11) by IBM vice president of PowerPC and Networking Development Chekib Akrout in his keynote address, "The future of electronic games and the impact on design automation," delivered to the International Conference on Computer Aided Design (ICCAD-2002).
As more broadband infrastructure comes online and as more people purchase mobile phones with gaming features, designing for low power will become even more important to the growing electronic gaming industry.
Akrout said that the industry is showing explosive growth, with over 145 million people playing computer and video games today. The industry will only grow larger as broadband becomes more widely available so gamers can play against each other via the Internet, he predicted.
Mobile phones are expected to represent another area of growth, Akrout said, as friends use them to play video games with one another. In Japan alone, over 30 million people use their cell phones to play video games with their friends, he said. This wireless application area in particular requires microprocessors that are high in performance to allow for fluid gaming. They also must run at low power to allow the phone's battery to last longer.
Microprocessors and system-on-chips (SoCs) with those qualities can be implemented on several silicon processes, Akrout said, including IBM silicon-on-insulator/copper processes.
To meet the performance and power demands of those application areas, a low-power group must be added to the MPU or SoC design team, Akrout said. Such a group would run tests to ensure that a given MPU design was hitting its power requirements.