Posted by henk hamoen on March 26, 2012
We like to blog about how technology changes our lives and will continue to do so. And, it is exciting to see Synopsys leading the semiconductor industry and pioneering new solutions.
For many years System on Chip (SoC) integrators have faced the challenge of packing more and more features into their designs, of course using fewer resources and within a shorter time frame. Synopsys has lead the way offering a broad range of SoC IP cores. We are now taking the next step with the introduction of the Industry’s First Complete Audio IP Subsystem that enables designers to cope with the continued increase in SoC design and audio complexity.
Talking with customers we found that what really drives system complexity is software. There is a lot of software in SoCs today, and the amount is growing. This is increasing the design task and in many ways making the hardware IP implementation almost easy by comparison. Of course, all of this software has to be integrated into the applications software that is running on the host-processor, and then everything has to be verified. From the chart below you can see that the number of IP blocks per SoC is growing rapidly, and will continue to do so. What the chart doesn’t tell you is that the amount of software required to support all of these IP blocks is growing even faster. Certainly, the number of IP blocks in SoCs has lead to a lot of discussion in the press about subsystems. What you don’t often see is the real motivator behind the trend to subsystems, and that is software and the integration of the software to make an SoC. A subsystem is more than IP cores and has to include the full software solution, or it will be of limited value.
We have developed the SoundWave Audio Subsystem in response to customer requests and the changing conditions that we see in the IP market. The SoundWave Subsystem is a complete audio subsystem solution. It includes all of the hardware IP blocks and all of the software that is needed to implement a broad range of audio solutions for SoCs.
The hardware IP includes: 32-bit ARC audio processors, digital I2S and S/PDIF interfaces for off-chip audio connections as well as high-bandwidth on-chip connections to interfaces like HDMI. ARM® AMBA® 3 AXI™/AHB protocol system interfaces ease integration into the SoC infrastructure. Analog audio codecs provide high-quality audio connections for line inputs and outputs, microphones, loud speakers and headphones. An easy-to-use configuration tool allows designers to quickly select options such as number of channels and number of audio interfaces, enabling a complete audio subsystem to be configured in hours instead of weeks if done manually.
The software included with the SoundWave Audio Subsystem is a complete, ready-to-use environment including an integrated media streaming framework, an RTOS, a broad portfolio of codecs and post-processing components, and a plug-in to the host application software. This is a complete software stack that includes everything that is needed to create great audio solutions for SoCs. The software is fully integrated with the hardware, it is configurable, and it is verified. We also have support for virtual and FPGA prototyping to make the software integration easier.
The SoundWave Audio Subsystem is the first complete subsystem (hardware, software, prototyping) to be offered by any company. All of the hardware and all of the software needed to implement a broad range of audio solutions for SoCs is included and ready to use. With the release of the SoundWave Subsystem Synopsys is leading the way and defining what a subsystem is for the market.
At the age of 10 Mike begged his father to get him a computer. Never mind that at the time computers were the size of a large office and cost millions of dollars. Yes, Mike is no spring chicken and he didn’t get the computer, although his father did give him an abacus telling him that it would enable him to use the computer that he already had between his ears, which was not appreciated. Whether it was due to the trauma that resulted from using an abacus or just Mike’s love of anything electronic he has spent the last 30 years or so designing, building, and programming computers, microprocessors, and microcontrollers and developing applications that run on them. And his fascination continues with the definition of new processors and architectures in his search for the holy grail of computing: infinite performance at zero power consumption. Statistically speaking he is convinced it is just a matter of time.
Allen started in the ‘semiconductor IP industry’ before it was called the ‘semiconductor IP industry’. Back then, it was about ‘megafunctions’, ‘megablocks’ or MegaMacros™ (as trademarked by the pioneering UK IP company Allen was with… no, not that UK company). The biggest of these ‘mega’ things was an 8051! Today, of course, IP blocks are much larger and much more complex. And, it’s about the software, as well as the hardware. It’s also about working with a set of partners, sometimes called an ecosystem or community. Allen has been doing that for many years and is enjoying working with old and new friends on the ARC processor ecosystem.