Winchester, UK - The first electronic system level (ESL) software tool that allows designers to model, simulate and optimize the dynamic power and thermal behaviour of whole complex systems, either on-chip, on-board or with multiple boards is to be previewed by DOCEA Power (Moirans, France) at the Design, Automation & Test in Europe conference in Nice, France, from April 20 to 24, 2009.
ACEplorer (ACE as Abstract Concept of Energy) is used by system and specification engineers as well as software and hardware developers for mobile applications, telecommunications, gaming, automotive, consumer, medical and military systems.
"Battery autonomy is no longer the only driver for power management. Packaging and cooling cost and power consumption are now key to competitive success and for addressing environmental policies," noted Ghislain Kaiser, CEO and co-founder of DOCEA Power. "Moreover the situation is getting worse with the next nano scale technology nodes where the increase of power and temperature coupling due to leakage current threatens IC reliability and thermal runaway risk."
Power and thermal effects in a SoC come from digital blocks, memories and analog blocks, and depend on power reduction techniques, how the application software runs, and technology data. At this level of complexity, the only way architects can understand their design is to adopt a higher level of abstraction than RTL (register-transfer-level).
The DOCEA Solution is an entire methodology for power and thermal analysis and is based on the ACEplorer platform. Release 1.1 of ACEplorer allows architects to generate power models and create a system model. The ACE power model is a common XML-based description for capturing power behaviour from informal requirements, even if the sources are heterogeneous (spreadsheet, datasheet, specification, IP-XACT description, and library). The ACE power model can mix components at different levels of accuracy (corresponding to different versions of one model) and models the interdependencies between parameters for providing more accurate/reliable figures. As any XML files ACE models can be stored in a database.
ACEplorer automatically generates power intents according to the IEEE 1801 or UPF (Unified Power Format) description. So users can secure power specification and manage power intents at any stage of the design flow. Thermal modelling in ACEplorer technology is based on a Dynamic Thermal Compact Model (DCTM) generated by proprietary mathematical algorithms. Package and environment thermal behaviour are represented by a network of thermal resistors and capacitances.
"Thanks to early decisions and predictions in the design flow, power saving can reach 70 to 90 percent at the Electronic System Level versus 10 to 25 percent later at layout," added Ghislain Kaiser, Co-Founder and CEO of DOCEA Power.
Users can build their own thermal model (in a Spice format) or run a dedicated tool which is currently provided as a DOCEA Power service.
Once all the models are generated, users can build an entire system model and execute the power and/or thermal architecture exploration. ACEplorer includes a proprietary fast electro-thermal dynamic simulator enabling power and temperature computing into a single tool. The simulator takes into account static and dynamic IR-drop, DVFS (dynamic voltage-frequency scaling), power/temperature coupling. Another advantage of the ACEplorer platform is the separation between an architectural structural description and application use cases. This improves the reuse of power and thermal models.
The DCTM approach allows designers to execute a thermal simulation in only 0.1 seconds while controlling accuracy compared to four hours with a finite element method (FEM) based thermal simulation. Like the ACE power model simulation, results are available in XML, a suitable format for sustainability, data management and exchanging through an Intranet or Internet.
ACEplorer extracts power information needed for refining models from commercial EDA tools to improving reliability of results. Designers can also collect the silicon measurements from silicon. By putting all the power refined models in one database customers capitalize on their know-how and manage their power data without modifying their design flow.
ACEplorer 1.1 is now available in a time-based licensing and for node lock, floating and multi-sites licenses. ACEplorer 1.1 is running on Microsoft Windows and Linux systems.
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