|Tensilica, Inc. is the leader in dataplane processor IP cores, with almost 200 licensees. Tensilica is different from other IP core vendors because our processor IP is customizable, both by our customers and by ourselves, says Paula. More in the interview:
PAULA JONES, Director of Marketing, Tensilica
|Can we have some background on Tensilica business and products?
Tensilica, Inc. is the leader in dataplane processor IP cores, with almost 200 licensees. Dataplane processors (DPUs) combine the best capabilities of DSPs and CPUs while delivering 10 to 100x the performance because they can be optimized using Tensilica’s automated design tools to meet specific and demanding signal processing performance targets.
Tensilica’s DPUs power SOC designs at system OEMs and seven out of the top 10 semiconductor companies for designs in mobile wireless, telecom and network infrastructure, computing and storage, and home and auto entertainment. Te n s i l i c a o f f e r s s t a n d a r d c o r e s a n d hardware/software solutions that can be used as is or easily customized by semiconductor companies and OEMs for added differentiation.
For more information on Tensilica’s patented, benchmark-proven DPUs visit: www.tensilica.com. Tensilica is different from other IP core vendors because our processor IP is customizable, both by our customers and by ourselves. By customizing the processor, designers can get significant (10-100x in some cases) performance increases while saving significantly on the power budget. Tensilica applies its own technology to create off- the-shelf IP. Tensilica’s HiFi Audio/Voice DSPs are the most popular licensable audio IP cores and have been licensed by over 50 companies. They are supported by a library of over 100 audio and voice codecs, and ideal for both low-power portable devices (like cell phones) and high-quality home entertainment systems and digital televisions. Tensilica’s ConnX family of DSPs are ideal for baseband processing, particularly for the transition to LTE and LTE-Advanced communications, both in handsets and in base stations. The DSP family ranges from efficient 2-MAC DSPs all the way up to
64-MAC DSPs, with many choices in between. Tensilica’s DPUs are ideal to handle the hard signal processing tasks in the SOC dataplane. They can provide the best combination of high performance, low power, and small area, exactly tailored to the specific application.What are the impacts of it on SoC and FPGA
The biggest impact of using IP cores is to speed chip design, both for SoCs and FPGAs. Time to market is critical for so many applications. The second biggest impact is to reduce cost. By licensing IP, design teams don’t have to spend the money on engineers to develop the IP in the first place.“Choosing an Intellectual Property Core for Chip Design is challenging task”, can you suggest any guidelines? What are Tensilica advantages?
You need to clearly understand what you need. Here are five key questions to ask:1. What tasks need to be handled? This will help you decide between a simple 8-bit controller and a large 32-bit RISC core or a DSP. Tensilica has tools that help you modify your core for your exact application to eliminate waste and improve performance.
2. How much I/O bandwidth do you need? Most processors are limited to by the bus characteristics. Tensilica offers unique capabilities to stream data into and out of the processor, bypassing the bus. This is great for signal processing applications.. What software development tools does your team need? You need to make sure they are all available. Tensilica provides an automatically generated complete set of tools to match any modifications made to their processors.
5. What forms of technical support and training are available? You will need help. You will probably want to have your engineers take a training class. You’ll want help 24/7. Tensilica is a big enough company to provide the support you need.
|Please explain Intellectual Property Core, how it is important in chip design?There are many types of IP that designers can use in their chip designs. The big advantage of using IP is that the particular functions are already designed, saving valuable design and verification time. An IP core is one of the most complex IP blocks available. Because it is based on a processor, it is programmable and should come with all the necessary compilers, debuggers, instruction set simulators, and other tools.
Usually, one IP core becomes the master controller for the chip design, but a lot of other IP cores can be used on the same chip. For example, there are often one or more cores performing complex dataplane signal processing functions such as baseband DSP, audio, video, security, and other functions.
IP cores are essential in chip designs because the cost of designing the IP is so high, it only makes sense if it is shared by many companies that use the IP. If companies had to design their own IP cores and associated tools, chip design would take too long and be too expensive.
Please explain Tensilica processor technology?Tensilica provides a tool we call the Processor Generator. Designers can select from a wide range of configuration options (for memories, add-on instructions, I/O, etc.) using click boxes and pull- down menus. Designers can add instructions using Tensilica’s TIE (Tensilica Instruction Extension) language, a Verilog-like language. These instructions will speed up specific tasks for the project. The Processor Generator takes all this input and generates the processor as well as all of the matching software tools (debugger, ISS, etc.).
The processor technology is based on a 32-bit RISC architecture with optimized 16- and 24-bit instructions to keep code size to a minimum. Tensilica provides the tools to create optimized instructions that are much wider and contain multiple simultaneous instructions, which are essential for fast data processing.
What are the key applications of Tensilica cores? Please detail the features of your products?While Tensilica’s cores can be used as the main controller on the chip, any application that requires a lot of data signal processing is ideal for Tensilica’s cores. One of the biggest markets is audio, where Tensilica’s HiFi audio DSP is the leading audio IP core, with over 100 software codecs already ported and over 50 companies using this as their audio IP. Another key market is baseband processing, where Tensilica’s cores are used for wireless, LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and many other signal processing applications.
Which are your associating partners and alliances?
Tensilica partners with over 40 other companies to provide operating systems, hardware prototyping, emulation, probes, silicon and services, EDA and ESL tools, libraries, memories, interconnect, and application software. A full list is on our web site at http://www.tensilica.com/partners