Design technique for MPSoC

Technology overview: In general, SoC (System-on-Chip) means integration of circuits that have various functions in one chip. Due to dramatic reduction of product life cycle and intensified time-to-market https://korean-electronics.com//inquiryconstraints, there have been increased efforts and requests to make improved flexibility of previously designed SoC, thereby being utilized in more products. Reuse of SoC depending on applications has been implemented through a method that uses embed of a strong, universal-use microprocessor as software to realize functions required by applications as needed. Real-time processing of various jobs in a single processor requires high operating frequency, and this resulted in low energy efficiency in SoC.

Therefore, in embedded system where power performance and energy efficiency are highly emphasized, a single processor-based or DSP based system is no longer considered as a proper SoC structure.  In most embedded applications, use of task-level parallelism is highly probable; therefore, integration of numerous types of processors, DSPs, and accelerators  for specific application field into one chip is much more favorable in area, power, and reusability of SoC. MPSoC (Multi-Processor  System-on-Chip) is a design method for SoC with new concept satisfying the above-mentioned conditions.It means that the MPSoC technology installs several types of processors, large quantity of memory system, interfaces, and other various IP in one single chip. Development of the design technique enables development of elements that can build low power, high performance MPSoC. Development of compiler and system software to support the created MPSoC has resulted in development of technology that can rapidly construct and industrialize MPSoC required in various application fields.

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Industrialization: Industrialization of the developed MPSoC has been implemented in two directions. The first direction wasto develop own SoC chip utilizing MPSoC technology and sell it. The second direction was to use licensing MPSoC design technique or to develop ASSP (Application  Specific Standard Product) SoC chip through cooperation with client companies. SoC chip in the first direction that was self- developed through utilization of MPSoC technology was industrialized as the main MCU in digital voice tracer sold as Phillips ODM (Original Development Manufacturing).

As the main MCU, a 32-bit dual-core processer was used, and a 16-bit DSP was applied as co-processor. Peripheral circuits such as USB 2.0 OTG, 24-bit sigma-delta audio CODEC, NAND  flash I/F, and DDR memory I/F were embedded in SoC chip, and has been accomplishing exports of $4 million annually. Development and industrialization of ASSP SoC in the second direction through cooperation with client companies have led to development of SoC chip for voice recognition,  SoC for handwriting recognition, and LTE M2M modem SoC. 32-bit dual-coreor quad-core is used as main MCU, and HW accelerator that can process each application in an efficient way is embedded. SoC chip for voice recognition has been industrialized on an annual scale of 300~500Kpcs, and SoC chip for handwriting recognition is currently in development stage of the set with the developed chip. The first industrialized products were released in August 2015.

Problem-solving in industrialization: The biggest challenge in industrialization of design technique of MPSoC is the high cost of the initial stage of development for SoC chips.  When  several  IPs such as PLL, USB, ADC, DAC, etc. are used with 55nm process to manufacture  SoC chips, development expense ranges from KRW 800 million to KRW 1 billion, which is considered a huge risk for SMEs to take. Developing industrialized chip through cooperation with client companies poses another difficulty other than the huge cost spent in initial development, which is a fact that many client companies do not have experience related to developing processor embedded SoC. In order to solve this problem, planning HW and supporting SW technology are essential. For example, technological support for HW developed by client companies and I/F design of main processor must be provided. In most cases, SW support such as writing Initial Boot Code, OS porting support and driver preparation for used circuits in surrounding is essential, and development of industrialized chip can only be made possible through these technological supports.

Technology developer: Zaram Technology Inc. / +82-31-779-6700 / www.zaram.com

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