RISC-V Challenges And Opportunities


Semiconductor Engineering sat down to discuss open instruction set hardware and the future of RISC-V with Ben Levine, senior director of product management in Rambus' Security Division; Jerry Ardizzone, vice president of worldwide sales at Codasip; Megan Wachs, vice president of engineering at SiFive; and Rishiyur Nikhil, CTO of Bluespec. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. (L-... » read more

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

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

Week In Review: Design, Low Power


Tools & IP Cadence introduced the Tensilica Vision Q7 DSP, which provides up to 1.82 TOPS and is specifically optimized for simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). The DSP has a very long instruction word (VLIW) SIMD architecture, an enhanced instruction set supporting 8/16/32-bit data types and optional VFPU support for single and half precision, and a number of iDMA enhancements in... » read more

More Memory And Processor Tradeoffs


Creating a new chip architecture is becoming an increasingly complex series of tradeoffs about memories and processing elements, but the benefits are not always obvious when those tradeoffs are being made. This used to be a fairly straightforward exercise when there was one processor, on-chip SRAM and off-chip DRAM. Fast forward to 7/5nm, where chips are being developed for AI, mobile ph... » read more

Preparing For War On The Edge


War clouds are gathering over the edge of the network. The rush by the reigning giants of data—IBM, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, Baidu, Microsoft and Apple—to control the cloud by building mammoth hyperscale data centers  is being met with uncertainty at the edge of the network. In fact, just the emergence of the edge could mean that all bets are off when it comes to data dominance. It... » read more

The 7nm Pileup


The number of 7nm designs is exploding. Cadence alone reports 80 new 7nm chips under design. So why now, and what does this all mean? First of all, 7nm appears to be the next 28nm. It's a major node, and it intersects with a number of broad trends that are happening across the industry, all of which involve AI in one way or another. The big question now is how many of them will survive long ... » read more

Week In Review: Design, Low Power


ON Semiconductor will acquire Quantenna Communications for $24.50 per share in an all cash transaction, representing an equity value of approximately $1.07 billion and enterprise value of approximately $936 million. Quantenna, a maker of Wi-Fi chipsets, was founded in 2006 and went public in late 2016. Tools & IP Achronix completed testing and is now demonstrating the 112 Gbps SerDes th... » read more

Week In Review: Design, Low Power


Gyrfalcon Technology released a 22nm AI accelerator ASIC chip with embedded MRAM. The Lightspeeur 2802M includes 40MB of memory to support large or multiple AI models, such as image classification and voice identification, within a single chip. Manufactured by TSMC, target applications include IoT endpoints, cloud solutions, and autonomous vehicles. Arm expanded its line of automotive-focuse... » read more

What Makes A Good AI Accelerator


The rapid growth and dynamic nature of AI and machine learning algorithms is sparking a rush to develop accelerators that can be optimized for different types of data. Where one general-purpose processor was considered sufficient in the past, there are now dozens vying for a slice of the market. As with any optimized system, architecting an accelerator — which is now the main processing en... » read more

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