Design & Reuse: Creating SoC Designs Better and Faster With Integration Automation

by Insaf Meliane, On Jun 20, 2024

A modern high-end system-on-chip (SoC) design can be extremely large and enormously complex, employing thousands of intellectual property (IP) blocks. Most of these IPs will be sourced from trusted third-party vendors. These will typically be augmented by one or more internally-developed IPs to provide the secret sauce that will distinguish this SoC from its competitors.

The IPs comprising past SoCs were often integrated and configured by hand. However, developing one of today’s SoCs would be impossible without the aid of sophisticated, high-capacity and high-performance integration automation.

Managing Metadata

The term metadata means data about data. In the case of the IPs being used to build an SoC, the metadata view of each IP provides useful information to augment the core functionality of that IP. For example, an IP may have many ports that allow it to communicate with other IPs via a network-on-chip (NoC). The metadata associated with the IP will describe things such as port widths and types, operating frequencies, configuration parameters, communication protocols and other specifications.

In addition to an IP’s core logic, it will also include configuration and status registers (CSRs). These registers allow the IP to be configured and its operation monitored by processor IPs on the SoC and by an external host computer, if required. Each IP may contain hundreds of thousands of CSRs, while the entire SoC may encompass multiple millions of these elements.

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