Agilent Licenses Tensilica's Xtensa Processors in Imaging Applications

8/30/2005 - Tensilica®, Inc., announced that it has enhanced its automated configurable processor design methodology to account for common integrated circuit design challenges with 90-nanometer (nm) process technology. These enhancements support the latest capabilities of the Cadence® and Synopsys® tools and include automated generation of physical design flow scripts that significantly lower power consumption, automate the input of user-defined power structures, and support crosstalk analysis.

“90 nanometer design presents significant new challenges for IC designers,” stated Steve Roddy, Tensilica’s Vice President of Marketing. “By automating the script development for the best-in-class design tools, we can speed our customers’ designs to market.”

Meeting 90-nm Challenges
One of the big challenges of 90-nm silicon is that dynamic power consumption rises dramatically. Tensilica counters this by automating the insertion of fine-grain clock gating throughout the Xtensa LX core and all designer-defined extensions utilizing the Synopsys Power CompilerTM low power optimization capabilities.

Another 90-nm silicon challenge is the increased severity of IR drop across power rails. New automatically generated Xtensa layout scripts automate the input of designer-defined power structure into the layout tools.

Interconnect parasitic effects are the third 90-nm challenge. Interconnects, which have dominated signal delay in all submicron technologies, are now critically affected by layout parasitic effects. Therefore, interconnect modeling accuracy is a critical input. New automatically generated Xtensa layout scripts also automate electrical parameter input from tool-specific technology files to better model parasitic effects.

Crosstalk avoidance and clock skew/insertion are critical design requirements for 90-nm designs. Tensilica’s new scripts automatically support Cadence’s CeltIC® for crosstalk analysis. Tensilica’s new scripts enable “useful skew modes” in the Synopsys AstroTM and Cadence SOC EncounterTM place and route tools to deliver maximum achievable clock rates.

Support for New Synopsys and Cadence Tools
Tensilica has worked closely with Synopsys and Cadence to support their new generation of 90nm design tools. The following Synopsys GalaxyTM Design Platform and Cadence tools are fully supported by Tensilica’s design methodologies:

IC Design StepTool Supported
Logic synthesisSynopsys Design Compiler®, Synopsys Power Compiler
Physical ImplementationSynopsys Physical Compiler®, Synopsys Astro, Cadence SOC Encounter, Cadence NanoRouteTM
RC extractionCadence Fire & Ice® QX
Timing sign offSynopsys PrimeTime
Signal integrity analysisCadence CeltIC
Design for TestSynopsys DFT Compiler, Synopsys TetraMAX ® ATPG

Tensilica has automated the production of synthesis and implementation scripts for Xtensa processors. These scripts are automatically generated for every Xtensa V and Xtensa LX processor configuration.

The Xtensa hierarchy is fully understood by these scripts and the scripts include full support for designer-defined TIE (Tensilica Instruction Extensions) language extensions to the base processors.

The automated scripts even support custom instructions that require more than one clock cycle to complete. Logic dependencies are grouped automatically so the logic hierarchy is re-organized for timing optimization.

Tensilica uses a bottoms-up approach with multiple passes on the top level to produce scripts that require no additional user modification. Advanced SOC designers, however, are free to modify and extend these scripts to meet company-specific physical design rules or goals.

“Cadence Encounter tools have helped Tensilica to streamline the 90 nanometer design flow with the automatic generation of scripts,” said Eric Filseth, Vice President of Product Marketing for Cadence Digital Implementation group. “This will enable our mutual customers to achieve a fast, efficient path to silicon for their application optimized Xtensa-based designs.”

“Tensilica understands and has worked with Synopsys to address the challenges poised by 90 nanometer technologies,” said Lonn Fiance, Director of Strategic Alliances, Synopsys. “Linking the 90 nanometer proven Synopsys Galaxy Design Platform with Tensilica’s automatically generated synthesis and implementation scripts provide a faster path for Tensilica’s customers to design customized processors in leading edge processes.”

About Tensilica
Tensilica was founded in July 1997 to address the growing need for optimized, application-specific microprocessor solutions in high-volume embedded applications. With a configurable and extensible microprocessor core called Xtensa, Tensilica is the only company that has automated and patented the time-consuming process of generating a customized microprocessor core along with a complete software development tool environment, producing new configurations in a matter of hours.

Tensilica and Xtensa are registered trademarks belonging to Tensilica, Inc.

Tensilica’s announced licensees include Agilent, ALPS, AMCC (JNI Corporation), Astute Networks, ATI, Avision, Bay Microsystems, Berkeley Wireless Research Center, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Conexant Systems, Cypress, Crimson Microsystems, ETRI, FUJIFILM Microdevices, Fujitsu Lth., Hudson Soft, Hughes Network Systems, Ikanos Communications, LG Electronics, Marvell, NEC Laboratories America, NEC Corporation, NetEffect, Neterion, Nippon Telephone and Telegraph (NTT), NVIDIA, Olympus Optical Co. Lth., sci-worx, Seiko Epson, Solid State Systems, Sony, STMicroelectronics, Stretch, TranSwitch Corporation, and Victor Company of Japan (JVC).

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