The Evolving Microprocessor Architecture: What Do You Do with a Billion Transistors on One Chip?

As microprocessors continue to surge in power and pervasiveness, there is little agreement about how they will be designed in the future. It's not possible to cover this area in depth—not least because it changes so fast—but a brief description of the underlying issues is provided as a guide.

Succinctly put, there are two issues on the table: 1) special-purpose or general-purpose? and 2) how much integration? The first problem is best illustrated by a current example. As noted earlier, one of the hottest emerging markets for microprocessors is for the devices that will manage digital television, especially the high definition version (HDTV). These ...

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