TOKYO Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. has signed a three-year contract to use Coware Inc.'s N2C co-design tool as a development platform for system-on-chip (SoC) devices and software for consumer electronics applications. Matsushita is the second major Japanese consumer electronics company, after Sony Corp., to commit to the Coware tool.
Under the agreement, Coware (Santa Clara, Calif.) will provide training, system-level design methodology services and software product licenses to Matsushita's Corporate Semiconductor Development Division. "We'll get valuable input and feedback from Matsushita," said Guido Arnout, president, chief executive officer and a cofounder of Coware.
Matsushita had spent two years evaluating N2C, a C-language based hardware/software co-design tool that Coware markets as a development platform. "We have already used it to design a block in an SoC," said Yoshifumi Okamoto, general manager of the EDA Technology Development Group at Matsushita's Corporate Semiconductor Development Division. "As the design was successful, we decided to use N2C [as a design platform]. At present, N2C is the only practical co-design tool available."
Emphasizing the importance of system-level design, Okamoto said that "about 80 percent of the performance and cost of a final system is decided in the process of defining system specifications and architecture design." A design's "iteration loop will be small [with N2C] and we expect to increase efficiency in design," he said.
Citing the case of a European customer, Arnout said the company had cut its design time in half and used half as many engineers on a system development project. In addition, the company the customer shortened time-to-market of derivative systems from 10 weeks to as little as two-to-three weeks, Arnout said.
Matsushita may extend the use of N2C to other product development groups, Okamoto said. "Matsushita's semiconductor group will make full use of it to get a clear idea of what technologies that the final system requires. We can build a design platform, and quickly develop derivative models," he said.
Matsushita's semiconductor design team intends to use N2C as a development platform for mobile phones, a market where the company is a leading player in Japan. "Then, as the tool is applicable to other fields, we want to apply it to other fields," said Okamoto.
Matsushita concentrates on four strategic product areas digital TV, mobile phones, optical disk systems, and Intelligent Transport Systems. Each of these areas will eventually be a target field for the N2C system.
Sony officially adopted N2C last January and became one of three investors, along with ARM Ltd. and STMicroelectronics, to invest $14 million in Coware last July.