picochip in Constant 2009

ns of
miniaturised chipsets, we encounter a vast proliferation of relations.
What is at stake in these convoluted, compressed packages of relationality, these densely patterned architectures dedicated to wireless
Take for instance the picoChip, a latest-generation wireless digital
signal processing chip, designed by a ‘fabless' semiconductor company,
picoChip Designs Ltd, in Bath, UK. The product brief describes the
chip as:
[t]he architecture of choice for next-generation wireless. Expressly designed to address the new air-interfaces, picoChip's
multi-core DSP is the most powerful baseband processor on
the market. Ideally suited to WiMAX, HSPA, UMTS-LTE,
802.16m, 802.20 and others, the picoArray delivers ten-times
better MIPS/$ than legacy approaches. Crucially, the picoArray is easy to pr

lly, the picoArray is easy to program, with a robust development environment and fast learning curve.” Why should
ease of programming be important?
And why should so many processors be needed for wireless
signal processing?
The architecture of the picoChip stands on shifting ground. We
are witnessing, as Nigel Thrift writes, “a major change in the geography of calculation. Whereas ‘computing' used to consist of centres
of calculation located at definite sites, now, through the medium of
wireless, it is changing its shape” (Thrift, 2004, 182). The picoChip's
architecture is a respond to the changing geographies of calculation.
Calculation is not carried out at definite sites, but at almost any
site. We can see the picoChip as an architectural response to the
changing geography of computing. The architecture of the picoChip
is typical in the ways that it seeks to make a constant re-shaping
of computation possible, normal, affordable, accessible and programmable. This is particularly evident in the parallel character of its
architecture. Digital signal processing requires massive parallellisation: more chips everywhere, and chips that do more in parallel. The
advanced architecture of the picoChip is typical of the shape of things
more generally:
[t]he picoArray™ is a tiled processor architecture in which hundreds of processors are connected together using a deterministic
interconnect. The level of parallelism is relatively fine grained

Wi-fi network, in femtocells, picocells, in backhaul, last-mile or first
mile infrastructures.

figure 118
Typical contemporary
wireless infrastructure
DSP chip architecture

Architectures and intensive movement
It is as if the picoChip is a miniaturised version of the urban geography that contains the many gadgets, devices, and wireless and wired
infrastructures. However, this proliferation of processors is more than
a diffusion of the same. The interconnection between these arrays

geneous movements via algorithms used in digital signal processing. Intensive
movement ensues occurs when a centre of envelopment begins to
interiorise differences. While these interiorised spaces are computationally intensive (as exemplified by the picoChip's massive
processing power), the spaces they generate are not perceived as
calculated, precise or rigid. Wirelessness is a relatively invisible,
messy, amorphous, shifting sets of depths and distances that lacks
the visible form and organisation of o


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