September 2010


Anatomy Of A (Better) Gaming Platform


By Pallab Chatterjee Microsoft’s third-generation Xbox360 engine uses a 45nm silicon on insulator (SOI) process—and a new architecture. The original design was on 90nm and then migrated to 65nm. In both of these cases the fundamental architecture of the system remained the same—a CPU (central processing unit) chip, a GPU (graphics processing unit) chip, and memory management chip for ... » read more

Software Drives Design Requirements


By Ann Steffora Mutschler As product design evolves to contain more and more software, that software—including the applications that run on the device—is now starting to drive design and process requirements. This change is causing ripples throughout the semiconductor industry, driving evolutionary thinking about where to go next. OEMs have taken notice of a new dynamic and want to capt... » read more

From Multicore To Many-Core


By Ed Sperling Future SoCs will move from multiple cores—typically two to four in a high-power processor—to dozens of cores. But answers are only beginning to emerge as to where and how those cores will be deployed and how they will be accessed. Just as Moore’s Law forced a move to multicore architectures inside a single processor because of leakage at higher frequencies, it will begi... » read more

Where’s The Multicore Software?


By David Lammers Multicore processors are being readied for embedded applications but software developers will need to get prepared if they expect to wring the maximum benefits from them. Rob Oshana, director of software R&D at Freescale Semiconductor’s networking and multimedia group, said software developers increasingly are asking if their code will easily port to multicore CPUs. ... » read more

Moving To Open-Source Software


By Ann Steffora Mutschler With the typical cost of software accounting for 40% to 60% of an SoC, semiconductor OEMs are under more pressure than ever to meet margins. As a result, they are drawing on their ecosystem partners to provide a more complete foundation including hardware, software, FPGA prototypes, verification IP and virtual models, as well as an increasing demand for open source so... » read more

Diverging Worlds


The big surprise at the GPU Technology Conference this year, spearheaded by Nvidia, isn’t that GPUs are getting faster or that they can do amazing things. It’s that so little attention has been paid to the volume platforms that people carry around in their pockets. What has always been interesting about GPUs is they are the one platform where software can be truly parallelized and accele... » read more

What’s With That Big Package?


By Javier DeLaCruz As SerDes data rates have been going up for years, and 10-Gbps interfaces have been becoming commonplace, I figured a few years ago that pin counts on packages would start going down. Boy, was I wrong on that prediction! The trend instead was to put more of those high-speed interfaces on devices. For years, a 45×45mm body size was really the upper limit on organic f... » read more

NoC Is Not A Noun


By Kurt Shuler Today in the IP and EDA business, I hear “knock” all the time, except people mean “NoC.” It seems everybody wants a NoC, or wants to offer you a NoC. I’m here to tell you that NoC is not a noun. A network-on-chip is a technology approach that can be used to transfer data and commands in many domains. When people in the IP and EDA businesses say NoC, they are usually... » read more

Why The Early Edition Was Late


By Mike Gianfagna I was a little late with the Early Edition this month. This is kind of embarrassing given the name. Anyone in EDA sales will understand why. It’s the end of the quarter, about a week to go. I’ve been really, really busy. Many EDA companies will book more than 50% of the quarter’s business in the next week. The bean counters have a name for this phenomenon: the ho... » read more

How Is ESL Like an Elephant?


By Jon McDonald Recently I have been involved in a number of activities with customers, bringing together their hardware, software, algorithm, and systems engineers to understand how to improve their processes using ESL capabilities. This included inviting experts from the various EDA technology areas to explore the best approaches for applying the full range of ESL capabilities to specific cu... » read more

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