SAN FRANCISCO An STMicroelectronics executive provided a glimpse of its future Nomadik multimedia processor platform consisting of multiple CPUs, DSPs and subsystems on a single chip.
Speaking at the Design Automation Conference here, Pierre Paulin, director of SoC platform automation at ST's central R&D, said it is integrating "a reconfigurable array of DSP cores"as many as sixand "multicore CPUs" into a Nomadik processor slated for production in 2008 using 45-nm process technology. Though not a member of ST's Nomadik team, Paulin provides CAD tool support for the team. "They are my customer," he explained.
ST's original Nomadik processor developed in 2004 integrated a single ARM core with two subsystems for handling audio and video.
The Nomadik team is now moving away from current a single CPU architecture to multiple CPUs, according to Paulin. Similarly, it is increasing the number of subsystems integrated into the Nomadik processor. There are currently four subsystems based on a 65-nm process. That number will grow to six in 2008, eight in 2010 (32 nm process) and 12 in 2012 (22 nm), he said.
Typically, each subsystem consists of a DSP core, hardware accelerator and DMA data mover. Under such an advanced multicore architecture, the hardware accelerator needs to be mapped on reconfigurable arrays, he added.
The transition to multicore CPUs and a reconfigurable DSP fabric is necessary for a new generation of Nomadik processors in order to reduce power consumption while increasing performance needed to "produce high-bandwidth multimedia content," said Paulin.
What can fit in a 45-mm2 Nomadik processor using a 45-nm process are six subsystems, of which four consist of four DSP cores. Each is integrated with a Level 1 memory. The remaining two subsystems feature an application-specific hardware accelerator for each DSP core, he explained.
Software components must be able to run anywhere. In running a video function, for example, the architecture could allow that task to borrow some processing power from a DSP that might have been originally assigned to handle audio. Such an "automatic load-balancing model" helps manage power consumption. But "it needs to be supported by tools," Paulin explained.
For advanced multimedia processors, complexity is now "percolating upwards to software design," said Paulin. "Power awareness, for example, must come from the design world through a better link between design tools and software execution," he said.