Oki Semiconductor is reaching back to its roots in Japan's telecommunications industry to produce a system-on-a-chip development platform for designs supporting the diverse communications landscape.
The µPlat-7C provides a preverified ARM7 subsystem, which, when combined with Oki's embedded-DRAM core, communication-specific interfaces, and design environment, is expected to cut design cycles in half.
More than simply combining a CPU, memory, and IP on a chip, the platform tackles hardware and software co-development, said Shusaku Sumida, vice president of integration marketing at Oki Semiconductor, Sunnyvale, Calif.
"It takes three things to make a successful system-on-a-chip design: an ASIC design flow that is competitive for multi-million-gate designs; the IP itself, with a method to distribute and share among different groups; and a system-level design environment," Sumida said.
The µPlat-7C is the culmination of a two-year effort by Oki to revitalize its general-purpose ASIC business by
cultivating the system-level resources of its parent, Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd. The company will channel its efforts into SOC applications in home networking, xDSL and cable networks, Voice-over-Internet Protocol, wireless, Internet appliances, digital imaging, and USB.
And with good reason. The application-specific communications-IC market is the largest and fastest-growing semiconductor segment, according to Dataquest Inc. The San Jose-based research firm has forecast 14.1% annual compound growth for the sector, with expectations of $33.7 billion in revenue by 2003.
Based on the ARM7 processor from Cambridge, England-based ARM Ltd., the µPlat-7C platform integrates preverified peripherals through the AMBA Advanced High Performance Bus to reduce technical risks. It's packaged with hardware- and software-design tools, prototyping aids, and design services to streamline the design effort.
In addition, through a partnership with Cadence Design Systems Inc., Oki has developed a corporatewide IP-reuse infrastructure and a timing-driven ASIC design flow that leverages Oki's in-house store of IP.
The µPlat-7C is designed for a 0.25-micron five-layer metal process. At the heart of the platform, a 32-bit ARM7 delivers 110-MHz performance with 8 Kbytes of unified cache, an external memory controller, and functions for a timer, interrupt controller, and serial I/O. Later this year, Oki plans to introduce an ARM9-based platform for high-performance, low-power applications using 0.18-micron process technology. The µPlat roadmap also calls for a cacheless ARM7-based low-end platform.
While the µPlat is a generic framework, it was designed with the short design cycles of communications applications in mind, Sumida said. Oki is developing AMBA bus-compatible networking-specific cores-including Ethernet MAC, 33-MHz PCI, USB, 1394, and Bluetooth-to round out the offering. The µPlat-7C prototyping kit also allows quick development of customer logic using an FPGA.
The platform is supported by ARM-compliant development tools, µPlat-dedicated tools, and Verilog/VHDL models. Additionally, Oki will support software and middleware-service routines that are ported to the platform, such as device drivers, power-management software, interrupt manager, resource manager, debug monitor, and real-time operating systems.
Oki is currently accepting µPlat-based designs, with full platform support available by April.