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Plucky picoChip pulls in $27m

Samsung ready for multi-core WiMax

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Flashy UK chip designer picoChip has secured Samsung as a major investor in a fresh $27m round of funding. The cash infusion from Samsung would seem to open a spot for picoChip's products in the giant's WiMax base stations.

PicoChip is an interesting beast. The company appeared in 2000 and announced its first product in Dec. of 2002. At that time, picoChip boasted 430 16-bit cores running at 160MHz on a single die.

The company's current PC102 picoArray is similar with 308 cores and another 14 co-processors for handling tough acceleration work. The massively-parallel part crushes competing gear from T1 and Freescale on performance, performance/cost and performance/milliwatt metrics. For example, benchmarking group BDTI have picoChip besting a 1GHz TIC6455 chip by 10X, when talking dollars per channel.

In the coming months, picoChip should only improve on these figures by dishing out its third-generation part built with a 90nm processor, as opposed to today's 130nm part.

Rupert Baines, VP of marketing at picoChip, argues that the company's performance allows customers to replace their combination DSP and FPGA products with a system based on a single chip architecture. You could, for example, chisel a base station with five DSPs and two FPGAs down to a two picoChip product. In so doing, you end up with a base station that's about one-fifth to one-tenth the price of a competing system - or so Baines convinced us.

There's plenty more on the picoChip gear - including its whole range of femtocell, picocell and macrocell reference designs for WiMAX and HSPA - here. ®

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