Week In Review: Design, Low Power

ML design visibility, optimization; new VIP; exascale supercomputer; Allegro to buy power semi startup.


Tools, IP, chips
Synopsys unveiled a new data-visibility and machine intelligence-guided design optimization solution. DesignDash is complementary to the company’s DSO.ai AI-driven design-space-optimization tool and provides a real-time, unified, 360-degree view of all design activities. It uses deep analytics and machine learning to extract and reveal actionable understanding from large amounts of structured and unstructured EDA metrics and tool-flow data, and uses it for classifying design trends, identifying design limitations, providing guided root-cause analysis, and delivering flow consumable, prescriptive resolutions. Hiroshi Ikeda, director of the Methodology Development Office, Global Development Group at Socionext, said, “We’re very excited by the Synopsys DesignDash analytics solution as a systematic way to capture, consume, and evaluate our vast design activity in a scalable way, enabling us to share and transfer expert knowledge across our worldwide design teams to enhance productivity and efficiency.”

Cadence introduced new verification IP (VIP) for industrial, automotive, hyperscale data center, and mobile SoCs. The VIPs include complete bus function models (BFMs), integrated protocol checks, and coverage models. They also support the expanded Cadence System-Level Verification IP (System VIP), which provides SoC-level test libraries, performance analysis, and data and cache coherency checkers. Included among the 15 new VIPs are LPDDR5x, MIPI CSI-2 4.0, and UFS 4.0, and the newest versions of the USB4, Arm AMBA 5 CHI, and GDDR interfaces. “Our customers can confirm their designs comply with the standard specifications and application-specific timing, power and performance metrics, providing the fastest path to IP and SoC verification closure,” said Paul Cunningham, senior vice president and general manager of the System & Verification Group at Cadence.

Faraday Technology debuted a security IP subsystem to provide a root of trust for custom IoT SoC designs. The subsystem contains an immutable boot ROM, an embedded processor, security hardware engines, and customized modules to enable secure boot authentication, cryptographic algorithms, device authentication, secure communication, and security monitoring functions.

Thalia Design Automation updated its analog and mixed-signal circuit IP reuse platform with machine learning algorithms that enable it to present the designer with the best solution by balancing circuit and layout requirements. The ML algorithms in factor in the impact of layout changes and further simplify an effective migration by preserving, improving, and validating the topology and the floorplan.

Credo Technology uncorked 40G PAM3 SerDes PHY/PMA IP. In the multi-protocol, low-power SerDes a single bi-directional lane supports channel insertion loss up to 30dB bump-to-bump at 40Gbps with spread-spectrum clocking (SSC) enabled.

Imagination Technologies launched its Open Access program to provide early-stage companies access to several of its GPU and AI accelerator IP without licensing costs. The program particularly targets startups in the areas of AI and IoT such as smart home, smart cities and factories, smart kiosks and signage, and healthcare tech.

Power devices
Allegro MicroSystems will acquire Heyday Integrated Circuits for approximately $19 million in cash. Heyday is a provider of compact, fully integrated isolated gate drivers that enable energy conversion in high-voltage gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC) wide-bandgap semiconductor designs. Allego says the acquisition will complement its existing solutions for energy efficiency, including its current sensor solutions, and is expected to significantly expand its addressable market for electric vehicles, solar inverters, data center and 5G power supplies, and broad-market industrial applications. Founded in 2014, Heyday is headquartered in Grasse, France. The deal is expected to close in Q3 2022.

Data center, networking, wireless
Renesas Electronics revealed I3C intelligent switch devices targeting next generation server motherboards and other infrastructure equipment. They enable I3C control plane networks with multiple initiator controllers, such as CPU and Baseboard Management Controllers (BMC), to support targets across a large physical network running at full speed by improving signal integrity and reducing capacitive loading. They also support heterogeneous designs by providing IO level shifting and protocol translation for mixed I2C/SMBus and I3C networks. Two versions will be offered, one with two upstream ports and four downstream ports and another with two upstream ports and eight downstream ports.

Neuchips uncorked its first AI accelerator ASIC. Specifically designed for accelerating deep learning recommendation models, the company says its embedding engine with novel cache design and DRAM traffic optimization reduces LPDDR5 access by 50% and increases bandwidth utilization by 30%. it is built on a TSMC 7nm process and will be available on Dual M.2 modules for Open Compute Platform compliant servers as well as PCIe Gen 5 cards for standard data center servers.

The Centre for Disruptive Photonic Technologies at Nanyang Technological University Singapore has selected Keysight Technologies’ software-centric test and measurement solutions to advance 6G technology and validate on-chip terahertz electronic-photonic devices such as transceivers.

Infineon Technologies will integrate its AIROC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity solutions with the Nvidia Jetson edge AI system-on-modules. It aims to provide low latency, robust connectivity, and high data throughput streaming for AI-enabled edge devices in congested network environments.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Frontier system is currently the fastest supercomputer in the world, according to the latest Top500 list, a ranking of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Frontier reached a benchmark score of score of 1.102 Exaflop/s, making it the first true exascale machine. Based  on the HPE Cray EX235a architecture and equipped with AMD EPYC 64C 2GHz processors and Instinct MI250x accelerators, the system has 8,730,112 total cores, a power efficiency rating of 52.23 gigaflops/watt, and relies on gigabit ethernet for data transfer. The power efficiency also earned Frontier second place on the Green500 list. A single-rack version, Frontier TDS, took the Green500 top spot for efficiency.

RIKEN’s Arm-powered Fugaku supercomputer dropped to second place in the ranking this year. Its HPL benchmark of 442 Pflop/s still put it 3x ahead of the next closest rival, the new LUMI system from the EuroHPC project. LUMI, which also placed third on the Green500, reached 151.9 Pflop/s performance and is also based on the HPE Cray EX235a architecture with AMD EPYC 64C 2GHz processors. In addition to performance per watt, it is fully powered by hydroelectric energy and its waste heat is reused to heat homes in the surrounding city of Kajaani, Finland.

AMD expanded its High Performance Compute (HPC) Fund with the addition of 7 petaflops of computing power for use by global universities and research institutions. It will also integrate the Xilinx Heterogeneous Accelerated Compute Clusters (HACC) program, providing researchers in areas including climate change, health care, transportation, big data with access to AMD EPYC processors, AMD Instinct accelerators, Xilinx Alveo accelerators, and Xilinx Versal ACAPs.

Quantum computing
Singapore’s Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP) launched three national platforms to grow the country’s capabilities in quantum computing. Hosted across the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University Singapore, A*STAR, and the National Supercomputing Centre Singapore, the programs will coordinate activities across research organizations and build public-private collaborations. The platforms will focus on developing quantum computing capabilities and exploring applications, supporting microfabrication techniques for quantum devices and enabling technologies, and conduct nationwide trials of quantum-safe communication technologies that aim to enhance network security for critical infrastructure.

New incubator company Quantum Catalyzer (Q-Cat) launched to create and support quantum technology startups. “Today, there is no easy path to transition quantum technologies from academic labs into the real world. Q-Cat will change that by lowering the barriers to company formation and progress — catalyzing a new generation of high-impact quantum companies,” said founder Ronald Walsworth. “Our model is unique. We create early-stage quantum companies and help them grow through expert guidance and key resources.” Over time, Q-Cat companies become independent entities, with Q-Cat retaining partial ownership. It has created four companies to date: EuQlid (quantum imaging for next generation microelectronics), QDM.IO (quantum instrumentation for research and education), XerXes Technologies (quantum sensors for extreme environments), and Q4ML (quantum data for machine learning). Q-Cat is backed by Quantonation and TDF Ventures.

Australian supercomputing facility Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre installed a room-temperature diamond-based quantum computer developed by Andrew Horsley, CEO of Quantum Brilliance. The new system will used to demonstrate and test hybrid models of quantum and classical computing by pairing the quantum accelerator with Setonix, Pawsey’s new HPE Cray Ex supercomputer. “The field trial demonstrates the significant value of HPC’s role in co-developing emerging quantum technologies to accelerate their breakthroughs in the engineering and productization journey,” said Andrew Horsley, CEO of Quantum Brilliance.

Infineon Technologies debuted its latest generation of MEMS microphones. Using the company’s Sealed Dual Membrane technology to provide IP57 ingress protection, it targets consumer electronics such as headphones with active noise cancellation, TWS earbuds, conference devices with beamforming capability, laptops, tablets, or smart speakers with voice-user-interfaces. Use cases also include selected industrial applications such as predictive maintenance and security.

Magic Leap will use indirect time-of-flight (iToF) depth sensing technology developed by Infineon and PMDtechnologies in its upcoming Magic Leap 2 augmented reality enterprise headset. The ToF technology enables accurate 3D mapping of the environment as well as 3D image of faces, hand details, or objects in real-time to allow for accurate environmental interaction.

Memory & storage
Kioxia acquired Toshiba Corporation’s subsidiary Chubu Toshiba Engineering Corporation, a provider of engineering services including semiconductor related hardware and software design, prototyping, and evaluation.

Fujitsu Semiconductor’s wholly owned system memory subsidiary, Fujitsu Semiconductor Memory Solution, will transition to an independent operating company in September 2022. Fujitsu Semiconductor will transfer the bulk of its shares to a new company established by T Capital Partners and retain 30% of voting rights.

Open source organization lowRISC acquired NewAE Technology, a provider of silicon security analysis tools, including side-channel analysis and fault injection. Its main product is an open source toolchain that provides a standardized capture tool for testing new analysis algorithms in real time along with countermeasures to expose weaknesses that exist in embedded systems, which lowRISC says will allow it to develop and evaluate open source digital countermeasures as part of the OpenTitan effort to build an open silicon root of trust. “NewAE’s offerings will fundamentally change the nature of OpenTitan silicon development by enabling engineers and designers in our community to be more aware of side-channel and fault-injection attacks, allowing us all to build more secure systems,” said Dominic Rizzo, OpenTitan’s project director. Founded in 2014, NewAE is based in Dartmouth, Canada.

Agile Analog appointed Barry Paterson as its new CEO. Paterson was previously the company’s VP of product marketing and a senior engineering director at Dialog Semiconductor before that. He noted increasing engineering headcount as a primary goal.

Read more
Check out the latest Systems & Design and Low Power-High Performance newsletters to learn about the layers of processor optimization, the potential silver lining to the talent crunch, design choices in DRAM, and more.

Find more of the week’s news in Manufacturing, Test and Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing.

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