New low-power chip company to launch

New low-power chip company to launch

A highly regarded group of chip designers is preparing to unveil a new company in October that will focus on designing low-power chips for blade servers and portable devices.

PA Semi, led by industry veteran, Dan Dobberpuhl, will emerge from stealth mode at the Fall Processor Forum in late October. According to the company's sparse website, it is a fabless semiconductor company focused on designing low-power, high-performance processors for blade servers, networking devices and portable consumer devices.

Dobberpuhl was last seen at Broadcom, which acquired his SiByte embedded processor company in 2000. SiByte designed high-performance networking processors using MIPS Technologies.

PA Semi is expected to pick up where SiByte left off, with low-power multicore MIPS designs that still deliver remarkable performance, according to one source familiar with the company's plans.

Dobberpuhl was one of the driving forces behind the Alpha processor, which is on its way out but still regarded by many analysts and engineers as one of the most innovative processor designs. Alpha was the fastest processor in the world when it was introduced in 1992 by Digital Equipment Corp (DEC).

The chip industry is shifting away from measuring performance by clock speed, another trend recognised by Dobberpuhl years ago. He helped DEC design the StrongARM processor using an architecture developed by Arm. This low-power design was quickly adopted for embedded devices and eventually bought by Intel. Today it is known as XScale.

Dobberpuhl won the 2003 Solid-State Circuits Technical Field Award from the IEEE for his contributions to chip design.

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