A View from the Top: A Virtual Prototyping Blog

Unlike the loosely timed models used for software development, which rely on a high level of abstraction to simulate as fast as possible, the communication between the architecture models in a virtual prototype for early performance analysis requires timing to be modeled more accurately.

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While I am not much of a golf player, I participated in a golf tournament over the summer. It was a very friendly setup with teams of four playing against each other. Each player of the team hits his ball, and the ball that lands in the best position determines the starting point for every one of the team for the next stroke.

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If you’re deep into the details, it can be hard to see the bigger picture of what lies ahead. There is a saying for this, of course, which everyone knows: “He can’t see the forest for the trees.” So the solution is to rise above the trees to gain a better view.

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In this month’s blog we continue our discussion of power management, specifically looking at how architects can improve the energy efficiency of their SoC as it uses system memory.

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In this blog we tend to focus on the benefits and opportunities that arise when using virtual prototyping. However, in real life we well know that any situation bears not only opportunities but also risks. I was reminded of this by the recent earthquake disaster in Kumamoto Japan. Having lived in the most earthquake prone areas in the world for the past 10 years, I know firsthand how easy it is to ignore the risks. In Japan the preparation strategy is a combination of a stoic acceptance and continuous preparation and training. When bringing this mindset into the business world we typically refer to it as risk management, a well understood discipline but often neglected especially in the realms of ever tightening market windows.

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Power management. If you’re responsible for the design of low-power, energy-efficient electronic systems and SoCs, you need to have a power management strategy and you need to know as soon as possible if it will meet the demands of your product and its target applications.

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Wikipedia describes ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) as systems developed to automate/adapt/enhance vehicle systems for safety and better driving. Safety features are designed to avoid collisions and accidents by offering technologies that alert the driver to potential problems, or to avoid collisions by implementing safeguards and taking over control of the vehicle. Adaptive features may automate lighting, provide adaptive cruise control, automate braking, incorporate GPS/ traffic warnings, connect to smartphones, alert driver to other cars or dangers, keep the driver in the correct lane, or show what is in blind spots.

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There is something compelling about arriving at the end of the year and reviewing what happened during the year. In principle nothing is really different and a date is just a date, but we humans created this sense of time through well-defined boundaries of hours, days, months and years and a year-end boundary is an especially big deal. At the end of the year, we like to reflect upon the past year and make resolutions for the new year.

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In the past we mostly interacted with a software-driven device when we sat in front of a desktop computer. We now carry a device with us that is as powerful as a computer. Our cars track our moves and try to pre-empt an accident by warning us about rapidly approaching obstacles, or prevent our tires from slipping on wet or snow covered roads. In our homes, the thermostat reduces the temperature when it ‘notices’ that there is no longer movement in the house.

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Let’s examine the first part of the title of this blog. It is stated as a given. But is it true that you really can’t walk straight when blindfolded? That is what my children and I set out to investigate one sunny afternoon in October (yes we live in California).

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