LONDON – Processor IP licensor Beyond Semiconductor d.o.o. has introduced the BA25 royalty-free 32-bit processor, which provides a performance improvement over the established BA22 RISC processor.
Beyond Semi (Ljubljana, Slovenia) classes the BA25 as roughly equivalent to an ARM Cortex-A7 or Cortex-A8 and is pitching the core at Linux and Android applications. The core includes an optional floating point unit.
The company claims the BA25 beats rival processors from ARM and others in some metrics and achieves the highest performance per square millimeter when compared to gigahertz application processors and offers the highest code density amongst application processors.
In addition Beyond Semi offers the IP for license with a single initial payment and without royalty. Beyond Semiconductor includes STMicroelectronics, Ericsson, Jennic – now part of NXP Semiconductor, Lattice Semiconductor and Omnivision amongst its licensees.
The BA25 has been proven in 65-nm silicon from foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and operates at clock frequencies of more than 800-MHz where it achieves 1360 DMIPS or 1.7-DMIPS/MHz. The BA25 supports out-of-order completion and advanced branch prediction. Its seven-stage pipelined architecture and optional two-level caches and memory management functions make it suitable for use as the main processor for systems running general-purpose operating systems like Linux or Android.
"The BA25 is - at never before seen cost/performance point - unlocking the potential for designers to tap into vast software ecosystem of Linux and Android operating systems, reducing software development costs while providing reacher experience to end users," said Matjaz Breskvar, CEO of Beyond Semiconductor, in a statement.
Beyond was co-founded in 2005 by Damjan Lampret, who had previously founded the OpenCores organization and led the development of the OpenRISC 32-bit processor architecture. Beyond reworked the OpenRISC architecture as BA1 and introduced the BA12 and BA14 cores. The BA2 instruction set is a refinement of BA1. However, BA2 remains relatively simple and compact, offering system area and energy-saving benefits, the company said. Programming is facilitated with the included C/C++ tool chain, Eclipse IDE, architectural simulator, and ported C libraries, RTOSs, and OSs.
Beyond Semiconductor owns all including commercial rights to the OpenRISC architecture. Furthermore, the BA2 processors are not based on OpenRISC architecture but on much more efficient architecture proprietary to Beyond Semiconductor.
The beauty about royalty is you will only end up paying significantly for successful chips ie ones you make a lot of and presumably make some revenue from. Paying an upfront fee means you take all the risk and costs upfront and this might force the vendor to make the fee so low to attract customers that it is not viable
The ARM royalty is usually calculated by the foundary such as TSMC. They know which devices have it and how many wafers have been run, so the accounting isn't that hard. Of course, no royalty is easier. It will be interesting to see how much of the pie Beyond can get.
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.