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New XScale supports PCI-Express

By Chris Williams. Published: 30th Jul 2004, 19:16:19 | Permalink | Printable

800Mhz IOP80332

80322 processor graphicAround this time last month, the online tech press began covering news of a new Xeon processor based platform from chip giant Intel, which included the unveiling of the new IOP80332 XScale processor, codenamed Dobson.

The 80332 is software compatible with the 600MHz IOP80321 XScale processor used in the Castle Iyonix and features a core processor speed of up to 800MHz and support for 2GB of DDR-333Mhz RAM (like the IOP80331). Importantly, the 80332 also includes support for PCI-Express, which is set to become the new backplane standard in PCs.

According to Intel, the IOP332 is "a highly integrated I/O system on a chip for RAID on Motherboard and I/O-intensive storage, networking and communications applications." However, due to the history of the XScale, it's ARM compatible and therefore favoured by Castle for RISC OS as it provides PCI support, which is in turn used to power sub-systems in the Iyonix like video and USB.


Intel IOP XScale website

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Out of interest, is PCI Express asymetric? If so, does this new CPU provide device or host support? Or both?

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 30/7/04 7:28PM
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"Software compatible"? So could this be a plug-in replacement for the 600MHz chip in the Iyonix?

I don't think PCI-X is that important, heck we barely have any PCI cards yet!

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 30/7/04 10:02PM
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simo: It'd have to be pin-compatible, as well as software compatible for it to be a plug-in replacement :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 30/7/04 10:09PM
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The only way to plug it in the Iyonix is when it is on a PCI board! Which would be a nice idea but then software is needed to take it in use.

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 30/7/04 10:28PM
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PCI-X is not the same as PCI-Express.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 31/7/04 9:16AM
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So how feasible would it be to use a raid card based on this chip as a processor card for a new RISC OS system?

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 31/7/04 9:35AM
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jess: Depends on the RAID card. But it's doubtful, I imagine. Most of the RAID cards that'll actually tell you how to talk to them don't use a specific CPU, but a big load of custom chips. That and it'd prolly be cheaper to roll your own PCI card with the CPU on it and nothing else at that point.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 31/7/04 10:17AM
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Why are we putting this on a PCI card? Surely we'd rather CTL put it on a Iyonix mobo even if the speed increase is only modest. -- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 31/7/04 11:11AM
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CTL would presumably have to put this in a new Iyonix mobo. I suppose the question is how much of a redesign would be necessary and would the benefits be worth it.

A speed increase of 25-30% might not be that impressive to those who already have an Iyonix but would be an extra plus for those who have not yer made the leap to 32bit.

 is a RISC OS Usercynic on 31/7/04 12:09PM
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An IOP331/332 based Iyonix would be up to twice as fast as the original Iyonix due to resolution of bus performance issues in the 321. The board redesign would be considerable.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 31/7/04 12:12PM
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Well that certainly sounds worth it!

Depends on the costs though.

 is a RISC OS Usercynic on 31/7/04 5:07PM
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the addition of PCI-Express wouldn't make any difference to Iyonix owners unless you wanted to upgrade the video card in 10 years time. Come to think of it, this is RISC OS hardware we're talking about ;) PCIe cards are very expensive too. A humble 33MHz PCI card is fine for most non-3D uses.

Only up to 800MHz? 200MHz increase in several years is a poor growth. I bet they would overclock like mad with a good heatsink though.

 is a RISC OS UserClades on 1/8/04 9:31AM
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Clades - I disagree. The problem you get won't be upgrades, its spares and repairs.

Imagine if your GeForce card dies. It's PCI, not even AGP. You can't buy them in the shops (even buying one without the modifications would be tricky). They've dried up in retail, but they'll probably dry up in trade terms too, so you'll have to rely upon the stocks that Castle have.

Once supplies dry up, you can't sell the machines unless you find a suitable replacement - this is why RISC PCs are no longer for sale. Frankly, PCI video cards will probably be second-hand only very soon because their bandwidth is insufficient.

AGP would be good, but it's now also an obsolete technology.

One benefit of PCI-Express is that it's a new technology, it should be around for a while. Bandwidth is always useful, but probably wouldn't be utilised fully on RISC OS for a while.

Expense? Yes, I agree it's an issue this month. However, once PCI-express cards become commonplace, PCI kit will be the more expensive. ATi have just produced the X600 budget graphics card, which is sub-100UKP, no doubt NVidia will follow suit.

More worrying for me would be ATA. Serial ATA /is/ now commonplace; new PC mobos are dropping parallel ATA interfaces fairly quickly. We would do better employing Serial ATA interfaces, and running them in parallel-ATA emulation mode.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 1/8/04 6:43PM
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X300 seriese cards can be bought for under 60 inc vat, which is a true budget card but it's new and does support all the features if not at the same speed as the higher end cards.

Intels latest southbridge I believe is connected to the northbridge by PCIe, so it shouln't be to dificult if other manufacturers take up this idea to plug PC issue southbridges (with there intergrated SATA controllers) into an X-Scale.

I think it's a nice chip, but I would suspect the podule interface to disapear if it was used, though if PCI support is droped completely or a southbridge with intergrated PCI brige used, the 'large' chip count of the board could be reduced and a smaller, likely cheaper and faster machine produced, though I doubt we'll see DDR2 as it's a nightmare for board designers :/

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 2/8/04 2:17AM
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Actually, I can still buy rather a lot of PCI graphic cards in shops all over Germany. Since they are still available as retail products here, I imagine that supply will last a few more years without major problems.

It is interesting to see that several companies still produce PCI variants of fairly recent graphics technology - AOpen and Gainward both sell GeForce FX5200 based products including DVI and TV-Out.

PCI Express would be surely a good idea anyway, and if recent southbridges are available to connect via PCI Express, this is a major step forward for the RISC OS market, since the availability of plain PCI southbridges with an up-to-date feature set is a much bigger problem than the availability of PCI graphic cards!

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 2/8/04 10:41AM
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Well wherever I got the information about the North-Southbridge being PCIe was incorect, digging around all I can find is Intel have MCI and IHA/AHA, Via the V-link, and SiS there MuTIOLR, oh gotta love that propitary setup :/

Guess I can just carry on with the wishful thinking, but even if people ignore the idea of using a common open standard to connect the chips together were likely to see lots of PCIe based controllers appear over the next few years, though it wouln't help the chip count much having a dedicated chip for every extra function needed *sighs* soz for the missleading info there.

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 2/8/04 12:59PM
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