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Open-Silicon's ARM Center of Excellence Uses Synopsys IC Compiler to Achieve 1.3GHz Frequency on Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore Processor
Success Drives Open-Silicon to use Galaxy Implementation Platform for High-Performance Design
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., September 2012 – (Virtual Press Office)
- 1.3 GHz frequency on quad-core ARM® Cortex™-A9 MPCore™ processor
- 5X reduction in number of high power cells
- Correlation within 5% between synthesis and post-route timing drove predictable closure
Synopsys, Inc. (Nasdaq: SNPS), a world leader in software and IP used in the design, verification and manufacture of electronic components and systems, today announced that Open-Silicon's ARM Center of Excellence used Synopsys® IC Compiler™ place and route solution to achieve 1.3 GHz performance on a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor. IC Compiler is a cornerstone of the Synopsys Galaxy™ Implementation Platform, and its advanced optimization technologies, unique leakage power recovery capability and predictable flow with Synopsys Design Compiler® Graphical synthesis solution were key contributors to Open-Silicon achieving the performance and power targets and predictable timing closure for the hardened processor core.
"We established the ARM Center of Excellence to provide our customers with complete ARM solutions from ARM sub-system design to power and performance-optimized processor hard macros," said Hans Bouwmeester, senior director, ARM Center of Excellence, Open-Silicon. "For performance optimization, we collaborated with Synopsys to leverage innovative technologies from the Galaxy Platform to enable the 1.3GHz frequency that our customers need to differentiate themselves in the market. As our leading-edge customers continue to push the power/performance envelope, we are confident that the winning combination of our design expertise and Synopsys tools and technologies will enable Open-Silicon to continue to deliver state-of-the-art ARM performance."
The quad-core processor targeted at a set-top box application was a sizeable design totaling more than three million instances with hundreds of macros, including four ARM NEON™ media processing engines. Implemented hierarchically, the design achieved a frequency of 1.3 GHz at the typical corner with 17 mW leakage power using 69 percent low-power long channel cells. The hard macro was optimized for a TSMC 40LP low-power process using ARM Processor Optimization Pack™ (POP) libraries with ARM POP and Synopsys' high-speed DesignWare® Embedded Memories.
Many factors made timing closure a challenging task:Additional levels of logic were introduced by the complexity of the quad-core configuration.
- The high cell density required for a compact core amplified timing sensitivity to placement, requiring tighter correlation between synthesis and place and route.
- Top-level floorplanning required careful tuning to improve timing and area.
- Performance was the highest priority, but leakage power also had to be managed.
- The parts of the design related to memory access run at twice the processor clock speed (half clock cycle), further straining timing closure.
The Open-Silicon design team created a flow with Design Compiler Graphical and IC Compiler that converged on timing quickly and predictably. They took full advantage of key capabilities such as:
- Design Compiler Graphical's physical guidance for 20 percent improved timing and 5 percent post-route correlation with IC Compiler;
- IC Compiler's useful skew technology to close timing on the memory half cycle paths;
- IC Compiler's final-stage leakage recovery that delivered a 5X reduction in the number of high power cells without impacting performance.
Other Galaxy platform tools used in the quad-core implementation include Formality® for equivalence checking as well as StarRC™ and PrimeTime® for signoff extraction and timing analysis.
"Open-Silicon has a reputation for on-time delivery of complex SoC designs that meet performance and power targets and result in first-pass silicon success," said Dr. Antun Domic, senior vice president and general manager, Implementation Group at Synopsys. "Open Silicon's success in leveraging the differentiating technologies in Design Compiler and IC Compiler to predictably meet challenging design targets reinforces the position of the Galaxy Implementation Platform as a preferred choice for high-performance design."
Synopsys, Inc. (Nasdaq:SNPS) is a world leader in electronic design automation (EDA), supplying the global electronics market with the software, intellectual property (IP) and services used in semiconductor design, verification and manufacturing. Synopsys' comprehensive, integrated portfolio of implementation, verification, IP, manufacturing and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) solutions helps address the key challenges designers and manufacturers face today, such as power and yield management, system-to-silicon verification and time-to-results. These technology-leading solutions help give Synopsys customers a competitive edge in bringing the best products to market quickly while reducing costs and schedule risk. Synopsys is headquartered in Mountain View, California, and has approximately 70 offices located throughout North America, Europe, Japan, Asia and India. Visit Synopsys online at http://www.synopsys.com.
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