Electronic Design

Novel Platform Takes SoCs On A New Route

To strengthen its position in emerging personal imaging and printing appliances, Oak Technology of Sunnyvale, Calif., has crafted a novel programmable system-on-a-chip (SoC) architecture.

Known as Quatro, it combines Oak's optimized DSP core with ARM's ARM9E 32-bit high-performance RISC core and other peripherals on a single CMOS die. This scalable, extensible platform defines a new route for developing application-specific SoCs for emerging PC-independent imaging and printing markets.

PC-centric peripherals are drifting away from their traditional role toward a new breed of PC-independent appliances. Market research firm IDC estimates the market for PC-independent imaging devices will surge to 44 million units by 2004, up from 11 million units last year. Likewise, personal printers are projected to grow to 30 million units by 2004, up from 10 million in 2000. Fueling this are home broadband and wireless connectivity, digital photography, and photo-quality digital printing.

Oak has licensed synthesizable ARM7 and ARM9 cores from ARM Ltd. The first SoC derivative of the Quatro architecture will be tailored for personal printing. The first samples of this device, implemented in 0.18-µm CMOS, are expected in the first quarter of 2002, with general sampling to begin in the following quarter. Oak will be using the Quatro architecture as a platform to create many other application-specific SoCs targeting high-volume consumer products.

In the Quatro architecture, Oak's optimized DSP core is combined with an ARM9E RISC core on a single die, along with hardware accelerators and interfaces. The architecture also includes a standard virtual component interface (VCI) 32-bit, 200-MHz point-to-point bus. With it, designers can seamlessly add hardware processing and connectivity modules for specific applications (see the figure).

The Quatro architecture has been engineered to support C-based programming. Oak has developed an algebraic C-like DSP language that performs inner loops for image-
processing algorithms efficiently. The system code and image-processing control loops are programmed in conventional C to run on the ARM9E CPU. Oak has readied a C-based programming environment that integrates DSP tools with CPU development tools furnished by ARM.

Designed specifically to process data generated from CCDs and other image sensors, the Quatro DSP core uses a single-instruction/multiple-data (SIMD) parallel processing engine with four data paths. It can perform four multiply-accumulate functions per clock cycle, achieving 1 billion MACs/s at a 250-MHz clock. A specialized feature of the DSP core is the bit-field extractor and inserter. These units ensure that the data extracted from sensors is accurately formatted for the DSP to process.

For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.oaktech.com.

TAGS: Digital ICs
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