Arm Goes For Performance


At the recent Linley Processor Conference, Arm presented two processors. This was regarded as so confidential that the original pre-conference version of the presentations didn't contain the Arm one, even though that pdf was only put online about an hour before. But most of the outline of what they presented they already talked about in May, a few months ago. I said recently that this seem... » read more

Defining Processor Core Complexity


The more complex a processor core, the larger the area and power consumption. But increasing complexity is not a single dimension, as processors can be more complex in different ways. In selecting a processor IP core, it is important to choose the right sort of complexity for your project. Some ways of thinking about complexity include: Word length Execution units Privilege/prot... » read more

Understanding The Performance Of Processor IP Cores


Looking at any processor IP, you will find that their vendors emphasize PPA (performance, power & area) numbers. In theory, they should provide a level playing field for comparing different processor IP cores, but in reality, the situation is more complex. Let us consider performance. The first thing to think about is what aspect of performance you care about. Do you care more about the ... » read more

Practical Processor Verification


Custom processors are making a resurgence, spurred on by the early success of the RISC-V ISA and the ecosystem that is rapidly building around it. But this shift is amid questions about whether processor verification has become a lost art. Years ago custom processors were common. But as the market consolidated around a handful of companies, so did the tools and expertise needed to develop th... » read more

Using Processor Trace At The System Level


The race to process more data faster using less power is creating a series of debug challenges at the system level, where developers need to be able to trace interactions across multiple and often heterogeneous processing elements that may function independently of each other. In general, trace is a hardware debug feature that allows the run-time behavior of IP to be monitored. More specific... » read more

Security From The Ground Up


Silicon and system design are complex and costly enough in the ultra-deep sub-micron era. Now factor in security. Virtually every end application requires some level of security, and, as the cybersecurity threat rises, the importance and value of trust and assurance rises as well. This is even more evident in “high-security” use cases such as smart cards used to enter buildings, SIM card... » read more

Why It’s So Hard To Create New Processors


The introduction, and initial success, of the RISC-V processor ISA has reignited interest in the design of custom processors, but the industry is now grappling with how to verify them. The expertise and tools that were once in the market have been consolidated into the hands of the few companies that have been shipping processor chips or IP cores over the past 20 years. Verification of a pro... » read more

Auto Outlook: Down But Not Out


For years, automotive has been an engine of growth in the semiconductor industry, although the market is expected to decline in 2020. Several types of chips are used in automobiles, such as analog, memory, microcontrollers, processors and RF. But the automotive IC business still represents a small percentage of the overall semiconductor market. It pales in comparison to the smartphone chip m... » read more

Week in Review: IoT, Security, Autos


Products/Services Rambus reports completing the sale of its Payments and Ticketing businesses to Visa for $75 million in cash. “With 30 years of experience pushing the envelope in semiconductor design, we look toward a future of continued innovation to carry on our mission of making data faster and safer,” Rambus President and CEO Luc Seraphin said in a statement. “Completing this transa... » read more

Surround And Conquer


The processor wars are back in full swing, this time with some new players in the field. But what defines winning this time around is far less obvious than it was in the past, and it will take years before we know the outcome. The strategy is the same, though, and it's one that has been in use for years in the tech world. It began in the 1990s, when IBM came to the realization that it could ... » read more

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