FRISC Project Introduction

                           J. F. McDonald
                  Center for Integrated Electronics
                   Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
                        Troy, New York 12181
                         (518)-276-8761 FAX

The recent decade has seen CMOS microprocessors improve in performance
to rival and  even exceed that of  the older bipolar mainframes.  Each
few years performance appears to   double according to an  observation
made  by Gordon Moore at Intel.   However, it is becoming increasingly
unclear  whether  this   trend    can continue.  Even   ignoring   the
substantial challenges that lie  ahead for CMOS techonology, there  is
the problem of continuously increasing demand on capital costs for new
plants  and equipment.  The most   recent 0.25 micron plants built  by
Motorola  and Intel cost $1.5  billion and  $1.2 billion respectively.
Given  the extreme demands for high  rate of return on investment some
of these advancements (such as X-ray lithography) may be viewed as too
risky by investors.  Such powerful  economic forces may not permit the
higher  performance needs of military applications  to be satisfied by
the commercial sector.

The  F-RISC group  has  been actively  engaged  in reexamining bipolar
technology  but in the  newer semiconductor materials systems, such as
GaAs, InP and SiGe alloys to see if faster  computing is possible with
a different fabrication system  at attractive  power and cost  levels.
Devices in these technologies exhibit transit  time frequencies in the
100's  of  GigaHertz range without   some  of the extreme  lithography
challenges facing   CMOS.   These   so called  Heterojunction  Bipolar
Transistors (or HBT's) might enable computing engines to be built with
GigaHertz clock rates.  The present project  is the demonstration of a
2  GHz clock 1000  MIPS integer Fast  RISC  (F-RISC) engine.  However,
already  in the  preliminary  planning  stage   is a  4GHz 8000   MIPS
superscalar.  It appears that in the future even faster processors will
be possible.