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An Acquisition To Streamline SoC Integration

Bringing order to the potential chaos of trying to combine IP from multiple suppliers.

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Late last year Arteris IP closed its acquisition of Magillem assets, bringing together two companies with a single mission: To support integration of systems-on-chip (SoCs) at the interconnect fabric level and the data integration level. The value of joining forces has been appealing for some time. Since the early days of both companies, we’ve been working with mutual customers and integration teams within those customers. It’s not surprising that needs and goals look similar across all of those teams: High performance, low power and low impact communication across the SoC, efficiently integrating IPs from multiple suppliers, each configured correctly to that communication backbone. And all in as little schedule time as possible. Combining forces just made sense.

The reasoning goes deeper than a top-level fit. You use a network-on-chip (NoC) to achieve high performance and quality of service (QoS) while also providing the means for sophisticated power management and on-chip data protection to meet functional safety objectives. The NoC technology also allows this communications backbone to fit in the “white spaces” between the intellectual property (IP) blocks in a complex SoC floorplan without exploding wire routing congestion and defeating timing closure. We make this work with Arteris IP NoCs by connecting each IP block’s interface through a network interface unit (NIU) adapter at the edge of the fabric. All communication on the NoC is in a common protocol, greatly simplifying techniques to manage QoS, power, congestion, and safety: Everything that matters in these big complex SoCs. What is unique to the connection between the IP blocks and the NoC is that it is all handled through the NIU local to that IP using industry-standard transaction protocols and signaling. Think of this as optimizing communication at the hardware layer through a common format.

Magillem, now called the IP deployment division within Arteris IP, does something very similar at the design data integration level, leveraging the IP-XACT standard. This standard, which was created by the SPIRIT Consortium and is now managed by IEEE as IEEE 1685, “IEEE Standard for IP-XACT, Standard Structure for Packaging, Integrating, and Reusing IP within Tool Flows”, was created to bring order to the potential chaos an integrator would face when trying to combine IP from multiple suppliers, each with their own ways of organizing register transfer level (RTL) and higher-level models, configuration scripts, memory map information and other IP collateral. This IP packaging standard becomes, in effect, a stable contract between the supplier and the integrator, defining the integrated view of the IP. For example, for interfaces, which protocols they follow such as AMBA, OCP, or others; which ports are clocks; what source files must be loaded; the register map for the IP; and configuration management controls for the IP.

This standardized packaging view for each IP means that when the SoC integrator brings IPs together, their packages are all described as metadata in the common IP-XACT XML document type definition language. That greatly simplifies integration, automation on top of that integration, and much of the basic checking to ensure consistency in the integration. When you receive IP updates, from an integration point of view, they should slide right in. No puzzling disconnects between the last version and the new one. In other words, Magillem’s IP deployment software is optimizing SoC integration at the design data layer through a common format. This is very complementary to what the Arteris semiconductor IP accomplishes at the hardware level. They’re both streamlining SoC integration in the design process and while enhancing design performance, cost and time to market.

You can probably imagine ways we could further leverage these two product lines in combination. But fear not. We’re not going to compel any of our customers to change. We’ll continue to support the standalone products. We think, over time, you’ll naturally start to appreciate the benefits to your product development and end products as we further integrate these technologies.

You can read the press release here.



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