Posted by Richard Solomon on May 23, 2016
Full disclosure: this is NOT a posting about PCI Express ordering rules, though that’s a great topic which I’ll use for a future posting.
This began life as a SNUG China posting, but what actually struck me more was a small incident which happened on my trip to China last week. Knowing that I was going to spend a week eating Chinese food, I decided to have one last fling with American cuisine and grab a burger in the airport. Now airports aren’t known for the best quality food, but I walked past my favorite fast-food burger place in search of something a step up. What I encountered near my departure gate was quite a surprise – a small restaurant location claiming “custom built burgers” and providing clipboards with a long checklist. I started working my way through the 4 different burger patties, 4-5 different “bun” types, 8 types of cheese, 15 sauces, and another 20-30 different toppings.
As I sat munching on my burger, I was struck by the sharp contrast between the typical fast-food ordering process (“I’ll take a number 4 combo meal”) and being able to pick out exactly what I wanted. In the strange way that my brain makes connections, I thought almost immediately of Synopsys’ coreConsultant tool. I spend most of the time here on ExpressYourself talking about various things which are specific to PCI Express, but coreConsultant is one of the coolest things Synopsys has – and it works with almost all our Interface IP . Much like the burger checklist, coreConsultant lets our customers pick exactly what they want and then generate a customized PCI Express controller with those options.
Really it’s even better than the checklist, because coreConsultant lets you try different options out. Want to know how much memory and gate count area it would “cost” to go from 32 outstanding transactions to 64? Re-run coreConsultant and find out. Want to see what kind of performance improvement you’d get from going from 128-byte max_payload_size to 256? Generate both configurations and simulate them in your SoC with your workload to find out. When I came on board at Synopsys, I was very impressed to learn about coreConsultant and just how much control my customers have over their configuration. So don’t get stuck ordering that “number 4 PCIe combo” when you could be getting exactly what you want! (…as long as it’s not a burger, because I’ve yet to find that option in coreConsultant, sadly enough)
With that thought still rattling around in my head, I took off for Shanghai to present at SNUG China.
This was my first non-USA SNUG and it was very interesting to see. Most presentations were done in Mandarin, so I confess I didn’t sit in on too many. The keynotes and a few international presentations (like mine) were in English, but they still seemed well attended and my audiences were attentive. It’s always a challenge to present in non-English-native locations, and I very much appreciate the audiences’ willingness to listen in MY language, not theirs! I had several post-presentation discussions with attendees, so it seemed like they appreciated the material. I enjoyed the keynotes as well, especially the one by Ian Ferguson from ARM – I think he even managed to make his analogies and humor fit the local setting. Anyone who left that session NOT concerned about security in IoT devices has clearly never seen a toilet in Japan! 🙂
Anyway, I’m back in the US for a little while, so chime in quickly with any future topic ideas (or just let me know if you DO want to hear about ordering rules), and as we ask in every posting, please subscribe to ExpressYourself by clicking here for RSS or here for email so you don’t miss any future episodes.
I’ve been involved in the development of PCI chips dating back to the NCR 53C810 and pre-1.0 versions of the PCI spec so have definitely lived the evolution of PCI Express and PCI since the very beginning! Over the years I have worked on variations of PCI, eventually moving on to architecting and leading the development of the PCI Express and PCI-X interface cores used in LSI’s line of storage RAID controller chips. For the last ten plus years I've also had the honor of serving on the PCI-SIG Board of Directors and holding a variety of officer positions. I am still involved in PCI-SIG workgroups and I present at many PCI-SIG events around the world. Back before the dawn of PCI, I received my B.S.E.E. from Rice University, and hold over two dozen U.S. Patents, many of which relate to PCI technology.