Open ISAs Gaining Traction


Open instruction set architectures are starting to gain a foothold, often in combination with other processors, as chipmakers begin to add more specialized compute elements and more flexibility into their designs. There are a number of these open ISAs available today, including Power, MIPS, and RISC-V, and there are a number of permutations and tools available for sale based on those archite... » read more

Better Benchmarks Through Compiler Optimizations: Codasip Jump Threading


The architectural efficiency of embedded processor IP is measured by a small set of industry standard benchmarks, that even though often bear little correlation to real workloads, continue to persist. The most popular benchmarks are Dhrystone and CoreMark. An interesting observation regarding these test suites is that the performance numbers continue to improve for a given architecture, even... » read more

Trading Off Power And Performance Earlier In Designs


Optimizing performance, power and reliability in consumer electronics is an engineering feat that involves a series of tradeoffs based on gathering as much data about the use cases in which a design will operate. Approaches vary widely by market, by domain expertise, and by the established methodologies and perspective of the design teams. As a result, one team may opt for a leading-edge des... » read more

Week In Review: Design, Low Power


Rambus completed its acquisition of Northwest Logic, a supplier of memory, PCIe and MIPI digital controllers. The Hillsboro, OR office of Northwest Logic will remain in place, along with the entire staff. SureCore launched a new low power design service. The company's offering includes concept-to-tape-out low power mixed-signal design expertise such as design and layout capabilities, technol... » read more

Week In Review: Design, Low Power


Xilinx debuted the Virtex UltraScale+ VU19P, which the company says is now the world's largest FPGA at 1.6X the size of its predecessor. The VU19P features 35 billion transistors, 9 million system logic cells, up to 1.5 terabits per-second of DDR4 memory bandwidth and up to 4.5 terabits per-second of transceiver bandwidth, and over 2,000 user I/Os. With a set of debug, visibility tools, and IP,... » read more

Synthesizing Hardware From Software


The ability to automatically generate optimized hardware from software was one of the primary tenets of system-level design automation that was never fully achieved. The question now is whether that will ever happen, and whether it is just a matter of having the right technology or motivation to make it possible. While high-level synthesis (HLS) did come out of this work and has proven to be... » read more

What Is A Custom Processor?


Spurred by the latest cyclical development boom, the semiconductor industry is entering a new golden era of custom processors, but this time ‘custom processor’ means something different. A generation ago, every major semiconductor company had in-house processors: SuperH, PowerPC, V800, Alpha, MEP, Trimedia, etc., with some specializing more than others for particular domains. But industr... » read more

Chiplets, Faster Interconnects, More Efficiency


Big chipmakers are turning to architectural improvements such as chiplets, faster throughput both on-chip and off-chip, and concentrating more work per operation or cycle, in order to ramp up processing speeds and efficiency. Taken as a whole, this represents a significant shift in direction for the major chip companies. All of them are wrestling with massive increases in processing demands ... » read more

Hardware-Software Co-Design Reappears


The core concepts in hardware-software co-design are getting another look, nearly two decades after this approach was first introduced and failed to catch on. What's different this time around is the growing complexity and an emphasis on architectural improvements, as well as device scaling, particularly for AI/ML applications. Software is a critical component, and the more tightly integrate... » read more

Open Source Processors: Fact Or Fiction?


Open source processors are rapidly gaining mindshare, fueled in part by early successes of RISC-V, but that interest frequently is accompanied by misinformation based on wishful thinking and a lack of understanding about what exactly open source entails. Nearly every recent conference has some mention of RISC-V in particular, and open source processors in general, whether that includes keyno... » read more

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