Processor Design Automation To Drive Innovation And Foster Differentiation

Creating a unique processor tailored for specific applications by customizing an existing design.


With semiconductor scaling no longer being an option in most situations, optimization means customizing the processor for your specific application. With the right approach and right tools, processor design automation can enable innovation and differentiation. One way of achieving this is to create an application-specific processor by owning the design. To do this efficiently, manual efforts should be reduced to the minimum. Let’s see how processor design automation can drive innovation and foster differentiation.

RISC-V is bringing design freedom to software and hardware developers

The semiconductor industry is facing scaling limitations (if you haven’t yet, read our white paper on semiconductor scaling) for new applications that require efficient execution of algorithms for data processing. For example, vision, voice, and vibration applications. In this context, the only way forward to differentiate is architectural innovation.

The ideal baseline for differentiating is the RISC-V ISA. Free, open, and modular, it allows custom extensions to create a unique processor tailored for specific needs and applications. Most of the time, there is no need to create an entirely new product from scratch. Customizing an existing commercial RISC-V processor is the most efficient way to design a new product with optimal features and PPA.

This approach, which is getting more and more attention, brings new opportunities for software and hardware developers, with complete design freedom. These new opportunities also come with efforts that have not been experienced before. Indeed, any modification to the processor architecture must be reflected in both hardware and software, and be verified. To minimize efforts, make the best use of resources, and reduce time to market, processor design automation is key.

Unlocking innovation with processor design automation

Customization requires the right tools and needs to be considered from the beginning. Codasip RISC-V cores are all designed in CodAL, with customization in mind, so they can be modified seamlessly. Based on C, CodAL is an architecture description language very close to standard programming languages, easy to adopt for processor design automation. This ownership gives you design freedom while keeping control of costs and resources.

Design freedom can start with architecture exploration. Codasip Studio with CodAL generates a Software Development Kit that includes all the tools software programmers will need. Profiling benchmarks, getting performance statistics, making some changes in the design, and seeing the results in just a few minutes: this is all possible with Codasip Studio. But that’s not all.

Codasip Studio workflow.

Studio and CodAL generate everything needed to be ready for production. Indeed, customization is not just about modifying the RTL. It also includes generating all tools required to design a quality core that can be monetized. Codasip customization solutions take care of this. Customers modify the core as needed in CodAL, the rest is automated.

This unique description language allows the automated generation of the hardware and software tools that are required. With a single, unified toolchain, our customers automatically get the RTL, simulators, testbenches, the verification environment, and a customized compiler that understands their custom hardware and how to take advantage of it. They create a unique product with tools that simplify processor design and verification for all developers.

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