Intel XScale

XScale is Intel's implementation of the 5th generation of the ARM architecture based on the v5TE ISA without the floating point instructions. XScale is a RISC microprocessor. It is the successor to the Intel StrongARM microprocessors and microcontrollers, which Intel acquired from DEC's Digital Semiconductor division as the side-effect of a lawsuit between the two companies. Intel used the StrongARM to replace their ailing line of outdated RISC processors, the i860 and i960.


XScale Families

There are three generations of XScale processors: PXA210/PXA25x, PXA26x and PXA27x.

Common to all XScale processors

All the generations of XScale are 32-bit ARM v5TE processors manufactured with a 0.18 Ám process and have a 32kb data cache and a 32kb instruction cache (this would be called a 64kb Level 1 cache on other processors). They also all have a 2kb mini-data cache.


The PXA210 was Intel's entry level XScale targeted at mobile phone applications. It was released with the PXA250 in Febuary 2002 and comes clocked at 133MHz and 200MHz.


The PXA25x family consists of the PXA250 and PXA255.

The PXA250 was Intel's first generation of XScale processors. There was a choice of 3 clock speeds: 200MHz, 300MHz and 400MHz. It came out in February 2002.

The PXA255 came out in March 2003 as a replacement for its predecessor. The main differences were a doubled Bus speed (100MHz to 200MHz) for faster data transfer and lower voltage (only 1.3v at 400MHz) for lower power consumption.


The PXA26x family consists of the PXA260 and PXA261-PXA263.

The PXA260 is a stand-alone processor clocked at the same as the PXA25x, but the package itself is about 53% smaller.

The PXA261-PXA263 are the same as the PXA260 but have memory stacked on top of the processor in the same package; 16MB of 16-bit StrataFlash memory in the PXA261, 32MB of 16-bit StrataFlash memory in the PXA262 and 32MB of 32-bit StrataFlash memory in the PXA263. The PXA26x family came out in March 2003.

PXA27x (Bulverde)

The PXA27x family (code-named Bulverde) consists of the PXA270 and PXA271-PXA272 processors. This family is a huge update to the XScale family of processors.

The PXA270 is clocked in four different speeds: 312MHz, 416MHz, 520MHz and 624MHz and is a stand-alone processor with no packaged memory.

The PXA271 can be clocked to 312MHz or 416MHz and has 32MB of 16-bit stacked StrataFlash memory and 32MB of 16-bit SDRAM in the same package.

The PXA272 can be clocked to 312MHz, 416MHz or 520MHz and has 64MB of 32-bit stacked StrataFlash memory.

Intel also added many new technologies to the PXA27x family such as:

Wireless SpeedStep: the processor automatically clocks itself down based on load to save power.

Wireless MMX: 43 new SIMD instructions containing the full MMX instruction set and the integer instructions from Intel's SSE instruction set along with some instructions unique to the XScale. These are used to boost speed in decoding and encoding of multimedia and in playing games.

The PXA27x family was released in April 2004. Along with the PXA27x family Intel released the 2700G embedded graphics co-processor.

Intel StrataFlash Memory

StrataFlash is Intel's low voltage memory, manufactured on their 0.13 Ám process, it's made for mobile solutions. It runs at 1.8v or 3v with densities of 8MB, 16MB or 32MB and is stackable up to 128MB.

Applications of the XScale

The XScale microprocessor can be found in products like the Dell Axim X50v and many other PocketPC's. Also the XScale is used in devices like PVP's (Portable Video Players) and PMC's (Portable Media Centres) such as the Creative Zen Portable Media Player.

See also

External links


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