GENEVA--STMicroelectronics and Hewlett-Packard Co. today announced plans to jointly develop a technology platform for system-on-chip designs, based on a Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) processor architecture that can be quickly customized for applications.
According to the two companies said the new platform will create a new paradigm in SoC design by enabling a high degree of automation in the creation of customized processor architecture and development tools. STMicroelectronics and HP said the platform will allow rapid development of high-performance processor cores that are scaled and customized to individual SoC applications.
"Many SoC applications need solutions that not only offer outstanding price/performance but also provide the flexibility to adapt to evolving standards or market trends," said Andrea Cuomo, vice president of the Advanced System Technology unit at STMicroelectronics. "For these applications, a customized VLIW solution can offer significant benefits because the very high performance allows many tasks that would otherwise be performed by hardware to be handled by software."
STMicroelectronics and Silicon Valley-based HP said the platform technology will be the first to allow customers to exploit twin benefits of VLIW and customization/scaling in production environments without the high costs and long development cycles that is required today. The companies said the approach of allowing many functions to be implemented in software algorithms instead of hardware will offer a greater degree of flexibility in customized VLIW-based devices.
The agreement extends two years of cooperation between STMicroelectronics and HP Labs, with a central design team based in Cambridge, Mass., and other teams located in Bristol, England; Milan, Italy, Grenoble, France; San Diego and San Jose. Earlier in the partnership, the two companies said they had developed the basic technology for the new project and now development will focus on scalability and compiler technology for customizable VLIW technology.
"This cooperation with HP Labs, the acknowledged leader in VLIW expertise, will greatly enhance our portfolio of RISC, CISC and DSP cores -- already one of the widest in the world -- and give our customers an exciting new option," Cuomo added.
The new effort combines HP's expertise in VLIW architectures and compilers with STMicroelectronics' capbilities in SoC and embedded applications, according to Joseph A. Fisher, director of HP Labs in Cambridge. "We have already developed a unique platform that can deliver world-class customized processors something that has never been achieved before," he said.
The development program includes the design and manufacture of a "demonstrator" chip, using embedded still imaging as the example application, said STMicro and HP. The complete tool chain has been supplied to application development teams at both companies, and the evaluation device is expected to be manufactured by ST in the second half of 2000.