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STMicro bares major breakthrough in SoC design

Posted: 15 Jun 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:chip design methodology? silicon? open systemc initiative? design automation conference? soc?

STMicroelectronics has revealed the publication of a book on chip design methodology. In their efforts, the authors of "transaction-level modeling with SystemC" have pioneered the next practical level of abstraction for production digital designs, yielding improvements in productivity and first-time silicon success. The modeling concept is supported by the newly released TLM library standard by the Open SystemC Initiative (OSCI), introduced at this year's Design Automation Conference in Anaheim, California.

The increasing complexity of SoCs, and the growing proportion of embedded software, is calling for new design methodologies. Transaction-Level Modeling bridges the gap between design productivity and process capacity by raising the level of abstraction in specifying and modeling an SoC design. The book, authored by an advanced R&D team from STMicro, presents an approach to resolve critical system-level issues in today's complex digital designs.

STMicro's TLM solution, based on the open-source SystemC modeling language, has been proven to strike the right balance between abstraction and accuracy, efficiently accommodating early embedded software development, functional verification, and performance analysis. Employed as the executable functional specification to compare against the Register-Transfer-Level (RTL), un-timed TLM models are also assembled to build virtual prototype to develop significant software in parallel with hardware design. When complemented with timing information, the same models serve the needs of architecture analysis to ensure the compliance of an SoC design with real-time constraints of the targeted application.

Beyond these benefits, the new abstraction level also provides a single functional reference that is shared between software, hardware, and system-level engineers. Sharing this executable specification removes ambiguity, duplication of information, and most importantly, helps to detect architecture flaws before the cost of modification becomes too high. These capabilities allow reduction in design times up to 50 percent over previous methodologies and help prevent silicon re-spins.

"We are witnessing a real paradigm shift in the way software and hardware engineers work with each other," said Philippe Magarshack, Group VP of central R&D at STMicroelectronics. "TLM allows us to deliver a prototype to customers before the RTL is frozen and therefore cuts time to market on a previously unattainable scale."

SystemC is an interoperable modeling platform which provides hardware-oriented constructs within the context of C++ as a class library implemented in standard C++. Its use spans design and verification from concept to implementation in hardware and software.

The OSCI is an independent not-for-profit organization composed of a broad range of companies, universities and individuals dedicated to supporting and advancing SystemC as an open source standard for system-level design.





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