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TI is putting the pressure on Intel to deliver smaller, faster, chips for the the mobile space

Today, Texas Instrument has made a startling announcement that it will exceed Intel in terms of chip production and power consumption performance. Both companies are large players in the mobile chip market, especially for cell phones, but TI currently leads the charts. Both Intel and TI produce processors and memory for hand held devices too, but according to TI the company will be one step ahead of Intel in 45nm technology.

According to a report by Reuters, TI will double the number of chips that it can produce on each wafer of silicon by utilizing an advanced 45nm fabrication process. According to TI, processor speeds will increase by as much as 30 percent and power utilization cut by as much as 40 percent. For the mobile market, this is definitely a big achievement. As cell phone users know, many of today's feature-packed cell phones are so equipped that battery life has been greatly affected. Many of today's smart phones last no longer than two to three hours of talk time. At the same time, users are demanding more out of their devices.

TI announced that it has developed the smallest 45nm SRAM memory cell, taking up a mere 0.24 square microns. This is 30 percent smaller than Intel's smallest SRAM cell said TI. In fact, due to design, TI says that its 45nm SRAM cell is up to 30 percent smaller than other 45nm SRAM cells. According to the report, TI will be manufacturing the new chips out of its Texas facility, with samples becoming available next year and full production occurring in the middle of 2008. According to TI's press release:

Other improvements in how many transistors TI's 45-nm process can support on a chip can be attributed to the use of an ultra low-k dielectric that achieves a k value of 2.5, and reduces interconnect capacitance by 10 percent. This will be TI's third-generation process technology to use low k dielectrics for reducing capacitance and propagation delays within a device's interconnect layers, and boosting chip performance.

With the mobile market ever expanding, and at such an incredible rate, TI's pressure on Intel for pumping out faster, smaller and more efficient chips will only mean a win-win situation for the end user.

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TI Calculator chips
By Khenglish on 6/12/2006 8:38:29 PM , Rating: 2
Why can't they replace the CPUs in their calculators that are over 20 years old? Their highest performing chips are 8bit Zilog Z80s at 15mHz and 16bit Motorola 68000s at 7.4mHz. Not only are they slow but they take 5 volts. FYI wattage = voltage x amperage.

They also charge an extra $30 to get 1 extra MB of flash ram. (silver edition).

What they are doing in terms of chip development sounds nice, but to me their calculators are overpriced for what they offer. True, they get the job done, but they really made a monopoly in US schools so you are required to pay $120+ for technology that's several decades outdated.

Also, didn't Intel recently announce that they are, or at least very seriously considering ditching their Xscale processors? What will TI be competing against?

RE: TI Calculator chips
By Egglick on 6/12/2006 10:55:16 PM , Rating: 3
I agree. I've had a TI-86 since my freshman year in highschool, and 10 years later they're still selling it for the same freakin price!

The Z80 (1976) and the 68000 (1979) are two of the most mass-produced processors in the history of computing. The same calculators that TI is charging $100-200 for probably cost less than $5 to produce (the majority of that going to the screen and the plastic shell). Talk about rape.

Texas Instruments is charging people out the ass for technology that's 30 years old.

RE: TI Calculator chips
By toonces on 6/12/2006 11:59:15 PM , Rating: 3
Develop a cheaper, viable alternative and TI will reduce prices as your new company takes most of their marketshare.

No one is forcing anyone to not enter the calculator business nor are they forcing you to buy TI rather than a cheaper Casio or HP. Free markets show that TI does not have any competitors that require them to lower prices so they haven't.

RE: TI Calculator chips
By segagenesis on 6/13/2006 12:01:17 AM , Rating: 2
Well I agree about the old tech bit, but it's not that cheap to produce as you think. While they have added newer features like USB, more flash memory (like thats expensive though now?) and more features to the latest calculators... they should move to XScale processors or something similar.

On the other hand, do you really need more than 16mhz for even the high end features on these calculators? My experience with them is the only stuff thats really slow are large matrix ops and integrating complicated functions. (I bought a TI-89 when the slightly faster cpu clock was used... 12mhz?)

RE: TI Calculator chips
By Khenglish on 6/13/2006 2:06:10 AM , Rating: 2
Basic equations are fine, but they suck at graphing. They need a better screen, and graphing takes at least 10 seconds on parabolas and stuff. That's really annoying if you mess up the equation or window when you have a timed 10 minute quiz.

They could also do much better than needing 4 AAAs.

My brother used to have an 89 which is far better than the 83 and 84, but he lost it and it isn't allowed in HS anyway.

RE: TI Calculator chips
By othercents on 6/13/2006 12:00:40 AM , Rating: 2
Also, didn't Intel recently announce that they are, or at least very seriously considering ditching their Xscale processors? What will TI be competing against?

TI is a DSP manufacturer. DSPs are used in many different mobile technologies including DVD Players, Pocket PCs, Cell Phones, and many many more. Basically DSP manufactures produce more processors than any CPU manufactures do. Intel would be dumb to stop producing DSPs especially since many new technologies like Smart Fridges that are being designed to make life easier (IE order groceries when they are low).


RE: TI Calculator chips
By customcoms on 6/13/2006 12:27:48 AM , Rating: 2
I agree the technolgoy is a bit outdated. However, this leads to some intresting software...people write games for these things that are 3D. I have a TI-89 Titanium with the orginal DOOM in 3D on it...thats with a 12mhz processor! The big problem for the competiton is the schools REQUIRE a TI calculator...its all the teachers know how to use. And their software is excellent for the math based stuff. Apollo astronauts would KILL for a TI-82, nm a 89 or 92! Plus, they are extremely durable. I've dropped mine several times and had acetone spilled on it, and it still keeps chigging away like the day it was new.

RE: TI Calculator chips
By Rock Hydra on 6/13/2006 7:26:24 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. I think the higher end TI calculator line could do some revamping. Maybe a rechargable/removable battery, a more efficient processor, and I bet 16 MB flash memory could be thrown on there very cheap, if they price it right, it could be a hit...unfortunately, the free market and competition (lack of) is affecting the price. Though, I'm not complaining too much, they still make great products.

Good For TI!
By Rock Hydra on 6/12/2006 7:43:14 PM , Rating: 2
Wow...there's a company a whole lot of consumers hear about in that light, though they make many great products lots of average people don't pay attention to.

RE: Good For TI!
By shecknoscopy on 6/12/2006 7:50:47 PM , Rating: 3
Here here!

I still use my ole' TI-82 calculator from the Bronze Age to do all my calculatin' needs. Seriously, this thing is about ten years old, and still works like it was bought yesterday. These guys make themselves a fine product.

Much love for the T.I., baby. Even in spite of the fact that they're from - you know - Texas.


RE: Good For TI!
By ricleo2 on 6/12/2006 9:18:37 PM , Rating: 3
Business's are successful in Texas because of a pro business climate. No state income tax is also a plus in wooing great employees. To knock Texas is to be ignorant and trendy.

RE: Good For TI!
By lobadobadingdong on 6/13/2006 12:35:28 PM , Rating: 2
not to mention Austin is still the fastest growing city in the US in terms of Technology sector companies, for what 5 or 6 years now?

RE: Good For TI!
By Quasmo on 6/12/2006 10:52:44 PM , Rating: 2
I have on my deska TI-99/4A home computer. Talk about old school. TI makes a crap load of great stuff including DLP technology.

Yes, Good For TI!
By ViperROhb34 on 6/12/2006 7:53:49 PM , Rating: 2

They've always been one of those innovative companies that is often a key player of the tech you see inside the popular tech devices.

I remember having an old TI 99/4A back in the day.. they continued making computer for business, although they left the home computer market.

They have been responsible for alot of innovations.
Now they have a hit for the DLP chips in High Def Big Screens..

Many things from TI have often been in major hits of the technology era..from the single-chip mobile phone solution to cable modems, home theaters, wireless Internet, digital cameras,and advanced automotive systems.. TI has been there!

Don't forget they invented and mass produced the 1st handheld calculator !

RE: Calculators...
By proamerica on 6/13/2006 1:20:53 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe TI doesn't upgrade their calculators because you could always buy yourself a computer for real computational work?

What can you really do with a calculator? You have a keypad and a screen, you want more buy a computer and throw mathematica on it. Then you can have some real fun.

RE: Calculators...
By Griswold on 6/13/2006 3:24:43 AM , Rating: 2
I admire those calculator wizards and I laugh at people who drag their notebook, with a math program on it, around to do the same.

RE: Calculators...
By mino on 6/13/2006 12:18:37 PM , Rating: 2
No offense, but try doing some serious calculations or simulations and you will soon realize that 10MHz IS NOT enough. The keyboard (even on 92+) is not sufficient for many things.

However, when someone needs a Core Duo 2 NTB to calculate the the weight of a NaOH to do some neutralization of HCl, well, that's another story ;-) .

Overal calculators(esp. the high-end ones) have pretty much enough power and functions.
Some power-tweaking and some 50MHz+(with the same CPU's) won't hurt, also IMHO the most power hungry parts here are not the CPUs but LCDs as of recently.

RE: Calculators...
By captchaos2 on 6/13/2006 8:24:44 AM , Rating: 1
Maybe they haven't updated the calculators because Math hasn't changed much in the past 300 years! I guess when they come out with that "new math" then they'll change the calculator processors.

RE: Calculators...
By mino on 6/13/2006 12:22:11 PM , Rating: 2
Gimme my calculating ruler!


More than calculators....
By bobsmith1492 on 6/13/2006 1:17:57 AM , Rating: 2
That's not all they produce (DSP and calculators...)
They make just about any kind of chip under the sun. From their website, semiconductors:

* Amplifiers & Linear
* Automotive
* Clocks & Timers
* DLP® - DMD Discovery™
* DSP-Digital Signal Processing
* Data Converters
* HiRel, Defense & Aerospace
* Interface
* Logic
* Microcontrollers
* Power Management
* RF/IF Components
* Space Products
* Standard Linear
* Storage Products Group
* Switches & Multiplexers
* Temperature Sensors & Control ICs

RE: More than calculators....
By skyyspam on 6/13/2006 2:22:10 AM , Rating: 2
Also, I could have sworn that Texas Instruments and Raytheon were one and the same.

TI makes Chips? heh
By xKelemvor on 6/13/2006 12:45:17 PM , Rating: 2
Only things I really know TI makes are Caculators and the old Speak and Spells. heh. But I have a cheap phone, don't have a palm pilot or anything similar, etc...

By AMDcertfdbigot on 6/14/2006 4:40:29 AM , Rating: 2
as i dismantled my age-old ttt playboard it came to me as a shock that it was being powered by a TI chip. unbelievable!

There's some competition in the calculator market...
By Fox5 on 6/13/2006 3:08:45 PM , Rating: 2
HP produces a TI-89 look-alike calculator that uses a decently clocked Arm 9, I'd imagine it blows away the Ti-89 in performance and costs about the same. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the real upgrades a TI-89 needs...

1. A backlit screen for better viewability. Also, a higher res screen to make graphs and numbers more distinguishable and fit more data on screen at once. Color would be nice too, Casio's graphing calculators had that back in the early 90s.
2. Smaller and lighter calculator, come on, what happened to calculators that could easily fit in your pocket?
3. 4 AAA's? Come on, the thing could be powered by a small watch battery if it used modern production processes, and a rechargable Li-Ion battery would make it very nice.

The TI-89 does serve it's purpose well, and most people who buy it won't even use half of its features. (and of those that do, most really still don't need it, high schoolers can do learn to do math by hand) However, I'd say there is a market for a higher end entry, though the monopoly on standardized tests and such (on which a color, high res, backlit screen wouldn't be wanted due to cheating possibilities) makes the market smaller for competitors. I'm sure you could find a nice PDA and some software for it (perhaps a mobile Linux platform) that could do far more/better, but the user interface would be limited by the lack of calculator buttons and a single screen.

By SiSiX on 6/13/2006 9:56:10 PM , Rating: 2
Fox5, I agree with you completely on #1 and they still make small "pocket" calaculators. As for the 4 AAA's thing, I've got my TI-92 that I got in 1995 for Calc, graduated in 2000, and changed the batteries in it to 4 AA lithium battiers about a week before then. Still has the same set of batteries in it and it still works. Gets pulled out maybe a dozen times a year. That's why they stick with removable batteries like AA's and AAA's. Calculators tend to get used a lot then sit for a while before they are used again. Would be a real pain to have to charge the dumb thing for 20 minutes to use it for less than a minute every once in a while.

As for more speed...well, it would be nice if they had a "Turbo" mode for those big matrices and 3D graphs...


By Sunday Ironfoot on 6/15/2006 6:32:27 AM , Rating: 2
"...TI will be manufacturing the new chips out of its Texas facility, with samples becoming available next year and full production occurring in the middle of 2008 ."

Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't intel have .65 chips due out in 2007. That would put intel ahead of TI.

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