Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: CDNS) and ARM [(LSE: ARM; (NASDAQ: ARMHY)], today announced the joint development of the first automated RTL design and implementation flow for the ARM® Cortex-A8 processor. This ARM-certified, specially tuned flow, called "Cadence® Encounter® Express Flow for the Cortex-A8 Processor," delivers an industry-leading 1,500 Dhrystone MIPS within a simple and synthesizable methodology. System-on-chip (SoC) designers can quickly deploy high-performance, power-efficient processing in next-generation mobile, consumer and other applications. The new flow enables small teams of engineers to tape out even high-performance designs in a few months, gaining significant time-to-market and cost advantages.
The automated design flow, based on the Cadence Encounter digital IC design platform, was jointly developed by a team of ARM, Cadence Design Services, and Cadence Encounter R&D engineers over a twelve-month period. This collaboration began in mid-2005 and culminated in a complete 90-nanometer reference implementation. A number of RTL synthesis, placement, timing, and clock enhancements were developed specifically around the Cortex-A8 design, and are incorporated in the latest Encounter release, shipping in production this month.
"At nanometer geometries and above 500 MHz, very careful alignment of the design flow to the yield, power and physical properties of the process is mandatory. Working closely with ARM Artisan® libraries and processor development teams, these factors were included in the flow," said Jan Willis, senior vice president, Industry Alliances at Cadence. "ARM and Cadence together have solved the hard problems and by leveraging this work a customer team of only a few engineers can achieve Cortex-A8 processor tapeouts in three to six months."
The Cortex-A8 processor features an advanced superscalar pipeline which can execute multiple instructions at the same time and deliver more than 2.0 DMIPS per MHz. For demanding consumer applications the Cortex-A8 synthesizable implementation will run at up to 750 MHz in generic 90-nanometer processes. For next-generation mobile devices the Cortex-A8 synthesizable processor implementation will run at over 500 MHz in 65-naometer low-power processes and occupy less than 4 mm2 of silicon (excluding NEON technology, Trace technology and caches).
"The superscalar Cortex-A8 processor delivers desktop performance with low power for high-volume mobile and consumer products," said John Cornish, vice president of Marketing, Processor Division, ARM. "The new automated flow developed in collaboration with Cadence Design Systems and certified by ARM enables our silicon Partners to implement Cortex-A8 processor-based designs quickly and efficiently, and achieve their performance and power goals."
"Today’s markets are creating the ultimate challenge for designs with performance and time schedule requirements that form the basis of a unique opportunity," said Max Baron, principal analyst, In-Stat/Microprocessor Report. "The Cortex-A8 processor synthesizable design flow from ARM and Cadence provides system-on-chip designers with options to match the challenge. Designers can now select part-custom implementations at frequencies higher than 1.0 GHz, or with the new flexibility from ARM opt for an easier 750 MHz synthesizable design that can be brought to market faster."
"Companies that design with embedded processors for low-power mobile and consumer applications, face unique challenges of shrinking geometries and limited battery life requiring power power-efficient design. Designing these ICs requires large groups of designers and months of design time," said Daya Nadamuni, vice president, Gartner Dataquest. "Automated, synthesizable flows are one of the answers that help address these issues. Customer benefits are clearly attractive: faster time-to-market and confidence in achieving the performance/power targets with maximum productivity efficiency."
The ARM Cortex-A8 processor is fully supported in ARM's RealView® family of embedded software and ESL tools, and has established a following among the leading industry Partners for software and tools, including CodeSourcery, Green Hills, Lauterbach, Microsoft, MontaVista, Symbian and WindRiver. Licensees of the ARM Cortex-A8 processor include Freescale, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Samsung and Texas Instruments.
About the Cortex-A8 Processor
The Cortex-A8 processor is a 13-stage superscalar architecture featuring Thumb®-2 technology for enhanced code density and performance, NEON technology for multimedia and signal processing, and Jazelle®-RCT (Realtime Compilation Target) technology for efficient support of ahead-of-time just-in-time compilation of Java and other bytecode languages. The Cortex-A8 processor also supports TrustZone technology for security and the AMBA® 3 AXI interconnect protocol, making it the next natural step up in performance for next-generation applications.
About Cadence SoC Encounter GXL System
The Cadence SoC Encounter GXL system includes yield-aware physical implementation features, new advanced synthesis features, including automatic physical-layout estimation (PLE) to address 65-nanometer design challenges. The Encounter low-power flow enables seamless multi-supply-voltage and multi-threshold-voltage (Vt) designs. The Cadence Encounter Express synthesizable design flow will also include the SoC Encounter automatic floorplanner, global physical synthesis (GPS) technology, Encounter RTL Compiler synthesis, NanoRoute® router, verification and chip-finishing technology. CeltIC® Nanometer Delay Calculator (NDC) and VoltageStorm® static analysis are also available to provide signoff-quality SI- and IR-aware timing.
The Cortex-A8 processor is available for licensing now from ARM. The Encounter Express Flow for the Cortex-A8 Processor is available to lead customers as an add-on to Encounter SoC GXL.
Cadence enables global electronic-design innovation and plays an essential role in the creation of today's integrated circuits and electronics. Customers use Cadence software and hardware, methodologies, and services to design and verify advanced semiconductors, printed-circuit boards and systems used in consumer electronics, networking and telecommunications equipment, and computer systems. Cadence reported 2005 revenues of approximately $1.3 billion, and has approximately 5,000 employees. The company is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., with sales offices, design centers, and research facilities around the world to serve the global electronics industry. More information about the company, its products, and services is available at http://www.cadence.com.