Electronic Design

Abstraction = Freedom

IC designs that fit the MEGa mold are large, complex, and hierarchical. Not only that, they'll invariably include multiple signal-processing subsystems. And that's exactly where Mentor Graphics is targeting its Catapult SL high-level synthesis tool.

As did the original Catapult C tool, Catapult SL takes in a pure ANSI C++ design description and delivers RTL. But in the case of Catapult SL, the task is aided and abetted by a hierarchical design engine that enables the tool to coordinate the operations of multiple blocks within the subsystem and to automatically synthesize appropriate interblock channels and memory buffers.

The key to Mentor s Catapult technology is the high abstraction level of ANSI C++. There are no proprietary extensions involved, as ANSI C++ is a universal standard. Catapult takes in sequential source code and inserts the appropriate amount of concurrency based on the target technology s characteristics.

"When you cross over into specifying concurrency in the source code, you lock yourself into an architecture", says Shawn McCloud, Mentor's product-line director for its high-level synthesis products. By taking in ANSI C++, Catapult SL leverages the abstraction of the language to create a technology-neutral implementation (see the figure). By applying constraints and avoiding changes to the source code, Catapult's use of ANSI C++ enables broader exploration of the design space as opposed to other C variants. Because no concurrency is specified, optimizations can cover the full range from parallel to sequential to highly pipelined architectures.

The tool's hierarchical engine enables any function to be instantiated as a level of hierarchy, or it can work across levels of hierarchy. Channel synthesis optimizes the links between these sub-blocks, choosing the correct channel depth and buffer memory sizes. Also, the tool's carry-save adder techniques streamline computations and throughput to increase the performance of individual blocks.

With the introduction of Catapult SL, Mentor has reshaped its high-level synthesis product lineup. The previously available Catapult Library Builder tool is now known as Catapult LB, while the original Catapult C synthesis tool for block-level work is known as Catapult BL.

Priced at $350,000, Catapult SL is available now in either term or perpetual licenses. For more details, visit www.mentor.com/products/c-based_design.

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