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Synopsys, UMC, join ARM, National for low-power SoC demo

Posted: 10 Nov 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

EDA tools vendor Synopsys Inc. and foundry chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) have joined the power management initiative first announced by National Semiconductor Corp. and ARM Holdings plc in November 2002 and again in October 2003.

Now ARM, Artisan Components Inc., National Semiconductor Corp., Synopsys Inc. and UMC have come together to try and deliver a low-power, energy-efficient system-on-chip (SoC) technology demonstrator for the ARM926EJ-S processor.

Synopsys' staff is performing the RTL-to-tapeout design work for the demonstrator chip using Synopsys' Galaxy design platform and DesignWare library for AMBA bus and peripheral IP to implement a complete SoC. And the "Ultra" technology demonstrator for the ARM926EJ-S processor is being implemented in UMC's 130e Fusion process, a 130nm CMOS manufacturing process technology, Artisan said.

The demonstrator is set to use adaptive voltage scaling as well as frequency scaling. The system is expected to make use of the lowest voltage and frequency required to meet software deadlines while maintaining user quality.

When National and ARM first announced their initiative, based on National's PowerWise and ARM's Intelligent Energy Manager technologies, the two companies said the technology could boost battery life by up to 400 percent, implying an 80 percent energy saving. Now the team is claiming system-on-chip ICs are expected to show up to 60 percent energy savings, when completed early in 2005.

The Ultra design work is set to target Artisan's Metro library of lower level cells and underlying physical IP including logic gates, I/O cells, memories, phase locked loops and other mixed-signal cells. These have been characterized to operate at low voltages, thus allowing the energy reduction enabled voltage scaling, Artisan said.

The SoC resulting from the collaboration is not intended for sale, but instead to demonstrate the separate and combined capabilities of the five companies when applied to the problem of IC power use. The partners are planning to exhibit the technology demonstrator at exhibitions beginning in early 2005.

"In order to address today's advanced silicon challenges, a much broader and deeper industrial collaboration is needed than ever before. This collaboration provides a production-proven methodology that will allow designers to take advantage of the advanced low-power capabilities in UMC's 130nm and below processes," said Rich Goldman, vice president, strategic market development at Synopsys.

- Peter Clarke

Silicon Strategies

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