System on Chip Seminar
Fully Programmable Systems: The Future of Application Specific Systems
Sharad Malik, Princeton University
A variety of diverse pressures are shaping how we will design digital systems in the near future. Shrinking geometries into the deep submicron range raise electrical design challenges that make it impossible to use existing methodologies for application specific system design. In addition, the corresponding exponential increase in the number of devices per chip results in a complexity problem which by itself threatens to cripple existing design methodologies. Finally, increased non-recurring engineering costs for masks and design tools force designs to be limited to higher volume products. All of these point to a gradual reduction of designs done using conventional ASIC (application specific integrated circuits) design methodology.
I will first argue as to why this points to an increase in systems that contain programmable components that are specialized for a specific application domain, while at the same time providing design flexibility that permits the same device to be used for a range of related products and also generations of a product. A key aspect of these systems is the use of on-chip multi-processing systems - made possible by silicon availability and required by product performance requirements. I will then describe the MESCAL (Modern Embedded Systems: Compilers, Architectures and Languages) project that is focussed on developing a complete set of design tools as well as methodology for the design of fully programmable systems of the future.