soc

System on Chip Seminar

Enabling Technologies for Model Year Upgrades for Mobile Phones

Mobile phones and base stations depend on microprocessors, DSPs and ASICs for their realization. Design objectives, however, are not just high performance, but include compact code, low power, and a rapid-time-market at a low cost of hardware/software integration of the SoC.

Algorithms needed, change frequently, with new features focussing on multimedia services and data networking in addition to voice transmission. DSP processors are changing every few months, and faster, cheaper, and better DSP chips are being produced by an increasingly larger number of vendors.

However, code development for most DSP applications is still based on manual-code optimization, a process that is slow and ineffective for complex applications. The code that results is processor specific and represents a high value but low quality investment. With newer processors and architectures (including those that reconfigure), this problem is likely to get worse, with a negative impact on cost, quality, and time to market.

We propose the development of "model-year phones", utilizing a powerful methodology, SoftwareFirst. The underlying technologies include advanced retargetable compilers for DSPs, DSP code, or "DSPBean", migrators, and virtual prototyping for hardware/software codesign and verification.

Benefits of the proposed "model year phone methodology" include "near manual" DSP code quality with orders of magnitude time to market improvements, ability to move code from one processor to another quickly, and the ability to partition the functionality across hardware and software in a manner that suits the technical and business objectives for the mobile phone. This attention to DSP software and its careful design to ensure its effectiveness inspite of underlying platform changes, in addition to the capability to add new features economically and in a manner that reduces the number of errors in system integration, is expected to help mobile phone technology vendors retain margins and a competitive advantage in a climate that is favoring commoditization of the hardware side of the phone business.

The talk will rely on results from recent benchmarking efforts.

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