Week In Review: Design, Low Power

Early virtual and hybrid prototyping; DSPs for embedded workloads; US wants chip shortage answers; portable quantum software.


U.S. government officials met with semiconductor industry companies and automakers to request supply chain information it hopes could address the current semiconductor shortage, Reuters reports. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo hopes the information will enable them and industry to “get more granular into the bottlenecks and then ultimately predict challenges before they happen,” but also warned that if companies are not forthcoming, the government has “other tools in our tool box that require them to give us data. I hope we don’t get there. But if we have to, we will.” Participants expressed concern about disclosing pricing information and conflicts with public reporting requirements.

Cadence unveiled Helium Virtual and Hybrid Studio, a platform for creation of virtual and hybrid prototypes of complex systems. Targeting early software bring-up before RTL is available for hardware-software co-verification and co-debug, it provides support for platform assembly, creation and debug of virtual models, and a library of pre-built virtual models and hybrid adapters. It integrated with Cadence verification engines.

Samsung Foundry certified Synopsys’ PrimeLib unified library characterization and validation solution at 5nm, 4nm, and 3nm process technologies. It supports advanced models like moment-based LVF, aging, and electromigration for the accuracy requirements of 5nm to 3nm.

Microchip Technology joined the DARPA Toolbox Initiative, a program to provide researchers with simplified open licensing options for commercial products. The company is providing DARPA researchers with zero-cost access to the company’s Libero design software suite and associated IP for developing systems based on its low-power FPGA product families.

Synopsys expanded its DesignWare ARC Processor IP portfolio with new 128-bit ARC VPX2 and 256-bit ARC VPX3 DSP processors. Based on the same VLIW/SIMD architecture as the company’s higher performance 512-bit ARC VPX5 DSP processor, the new additions decrease power and area up to two-thirds for embedded workloads. Available in single- or dual-core configurations, each VPX core contains a scalar execution unit and multiple vector units that support 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit SIMD computations. The VPX DSPs support half-, single-, and double-precision floating point formats, and up to three floating point pipelines are available in each VPX core.

Rambus extended its patent license agreement with Kioxia Corporation, allowing Rambus memory technologies to continue to be licensed by the company.

NEC Corporation’s next-generation 5G massive MIMO radio units will incorporate Xilinx 7nm Versal AI Core series devices to enable advanced signal processing and beamforming, while also integrating O-RAN capabilities.

The MIPI Alliance published an update to the publicly available, royalty-free, MIPI I3C Basic specification. Version 1.1.1 aims to improve the speed and flexibility of MIPI I3C Basic, which provides a scalable, medium-speed, utility and control bus interface for connecting peripherals to application processors. The updated version includes two High Data Rate (HDR) modes, HDR Double Data Rate (HDR-DDR) and HDR Bulk Transport (HDR-BT), which are designed to transfer more data at the same bus frequency. It also includes standardized target reset.

Quantum computing
A consortium led by quantum computing software company Riverlane and the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL) developed an open-source hardware abstraction layer (HAL) to make software portable across different quantum computing hardware platforms. The effort allows developers to focus on designing quantum algorithms, rather than the hardware specific implementation. It works across four qubit technologies: superconducting qubits, trapped-ion qubits, photonic systems, and silicon-based qubits. Future work will provide support for advanced features such as compiler optimizations, measurement-based control, and error correction. SeeQC, Hitachi Europe, Universal Quantum, Duality Quantum Photonics, Oxford Ionics, Oxford Quantum Circuits, and Arm also participated in the project, which was funded by the UK government.

IBM launched an accelerator program for businesses looking to incorporate quantum computing. The program will offer access to IBM’s quantum computing systems as well as experts to help assess how quantum applications could be used in a particular industry and provide workforce training.

Materials and chemicals company JSR Corporation will acquire Inpria Corporation for $514 million. Inpria produces metal oxide photoresists for EUV lithography and says its technology can reduce the cost of EUV patterning. Founded in 2007 as a spin out from Oregon State University, Inpria is based in Corvallis, Ore. JSR previously participated in Inpria’s funding rounds and owned 21% of the company’s shares. The deal is expected to close in October.

RISC-V International, CHIPS Alliance, OpenPOWER Foundation, and Western Digital launched the Open Hardware Diversity Alliance. The Alliance will develop and provide learning and networking programs, mentorship opportunities, and inclusive environments to support professional advancement and encourage equal participation for women and underrepresented individuals in the open hardware community.

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