Last month Freescale added two new parts to its MSC711x family of StarCore SC1400-based DSPs. The two new family members, the MSC7118 and MSC7119, resemble existing family members in most respects. The main difference is that the new parts will operate at 300 MHz—50% faster than the existing 200 MHz parts. Both new chips will also feature 472 Kbytes of on-chip memory, up from a maximum of 408 Kbytes on existing chips. Not surprisingly, the new chips are also more expensive: the MSC7118 and MSC7119 will cost $33 and $35, respectively, up from a maximum of $25 for the existing family members. (All prices are for 10,000-unit orders.)
Until recently, there was a large gap between Freescale's low-cost, low performance DSPs (such as the 56800E family) and its expensive, high-performance DSPs (such as the MSC81xx family). The original MSC711x family members helped fill this gap by offering moderate speeds at modest prices. The MSC7118 and MSC7119 go a long way towards bridging the remaining gap between Freescale's low-end and high-end parts.
Interestingly, the new MSC711x parts also fill a gap in its competitors' lineups. The MSC711x family competes with a number of popular DSP families, including Analog Devices' Blackfin and TI's 'C55x and 'C64x families. Some of these competitors offer faster parts at lower prices, and some offer parts with more on-chip memory. However, none of these competitors offer parts with a comparable combination of moderate speed, moderate cost, and large on-chip memory. (For more information on these competing families, see BDTI's Pocket Guide to Processors for DSP.) It will be interesting to see if Freescale's unique combination of attributes enables it to win business away from these competitors.
The new MSC711x parts also further Freescale's newfound focus on compatibility. Until recently, Freescale's low-end and high-end parts were completely incompatible. The low-end parts used variants of the DSP56000 architecture, while high-end parts used the StarCore architecture. In contrast, the MSC7118 and MSC7119 are binary- and pin-compatible with lower-performance MSC711x family members, and are binary compatible with the higher-performance MSC81xx family.
The MSC7118 and MSC7119 are expected to begin sampling this quarter. Full production is expected in the third quarter of 2005. For more on these parts, see "Cradle, Freescale, TI to debut DSP products at ESC."