For the past few months, we have heard from companies, such as LSI and Freescale, about new chips that they are developing in cooperation with ARM. The common aspects of those chips were up to 16 ARM processor cores arranged in four clusters of four, with a CoreLink cache coherent network CCN-504 interconnect and dual memory channels to CoreLink DMC-520 memory controller. Today, we find that this has a new name – it shall be called AMBA 5 Coherent Hub Interface or CHI.
Enterprise computing markets are demanding a greater number of compute cores that can communicate at high speed and have a coherent memory structure that includes I/O. At the same time they also have increasing concerns about power consumption and reliability. AMBA 5 CHI supports non-blocking coherent data transfers between many processors using distributed level 3 caches. In most systems, coherence with the I/O is accomplished through software, but with CHI it is all handled directly in hardware making the solution more reliable, faster and more power frugal than a software solution. A layered approach permits the separation of communications from transport protocol meaning that a number of different topologies can be supported including ring, torus, mesh and others. Choosing which one is part of the design trade-off between power, performance and area.
With this formal release of the specification, ARM also has a full lineup of verification IP support from other companies in the industry. From Jasper there is a full formal proof kit, Cadence VIP has concentrated on helping you perform performance analysis, Mentor on providing a verification environment that spans simulation and emulation, and general VIP support from Synopsys.
At this point, ARM is keeping the specification confidential but making it available to people who need it. It is available at no cost, to companies integrating or developing compliant IP or tools. Over time it will be made more publically available.
I asked if the recent licensing agreement with Sonics was in any way reflected in this set of capabilities. William Orme, ARMs strategic marketing manager told me that he was not aware of anything specific about this release that was related to Sonics, but that they had wanted to ensure that none of their customers thought that there would be problems down the road.
Brian Bailey – keeping you covered
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