Integration isn't new: It's been the game plan of IC vendors since "back in the day." At first, it was done the obvious way by adding direct support functions around a core, such as providing digital I/O buffers and analog signal buffers to bare-bones ADCs and DACs.
This was hardware integration, plain and simple. You just looked at the block diagram and you knew what the integration was, and what it could do for you. Sure, there was software, but it was used for set-up, initialization, and defining thresholds and limits, but not for establishing the basic operating functions.
But that was then, and times have certainly changed. Integration now has a new approach of using software to tie together different ICs to make them an application-specific set. It's taken me quite a while to accept the software-based integration.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.