High-Level Abstraction Comes Into Tool's Grasp

March 1, 2004
This Automated Design Tool Now Adds An Advanced Ultra-Wideband Modeling Library To Its Repertoire Of ESL Capabilities.

Despite the economic downturn of the last two years, the electronic-system-level (ESL) design and verification markets continue to evolve. This fact proves the importance of system-level development software for the electronic-design-automation (EDA) community. Evidence also can be found in recent work by CoWare. It has added algorithmic-based design capabilities to its ESL embedded hardware-software applications.

The company's arrangement with Cadence Design Systems, Inc. (www.cadence.com) is central to its new design capabilities. Basically, CoWare has licensed the use of its Signal Processing Workstation (SPW). This tool is utilized in the design of algorithmic-intensive DSP systems.

The company staunchly supports SystemC as the high-level language for hardware-software co-design and modeling. The addition of SPW extends that reach to the level of algorithmic abstraction. This feature is critical for true ESL coverage. After all, system designers typically use a different design approach from hardware-RTL or chip-layout engineers. For example, system-level engineers focus on co-design using MIPS or ARM models while exploring wideband-CDMA algorithms.

Wireless-systems designers should be particularly interested in the company's reinforced commitment to wireless LANs. Specifically, CoWare has added an Ultra Wideband (UWB) model library to SPW. This announcement comes at a critical time for the UWB community. Currently, it is undergoing the rigors of becoming an IEEE standard.

UWB is a technology that promises extremely high throughput, low power, and low cost. It may very well rival both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Before they begin shipping UWB-enabled products, most vendors are awaiting the outcome of the IEEE UWB standard. CoWare's SPW is targeted at just such companies. It promises to help them stay in front of the design curve by supplying wireless model libraries for orthogonal-frequency-division-multiplexing (OFDM) technology.

The CDMA protocol is one of the two proposals for the IEEE UWB standard. The other technology is direct-sequence code division multiple access (DS-CDMA). If DS-CDMA is approved, CoWare has promised to expand its WLAN library to support it.

The tool's extensive communication library also supports GSM's EDGE standard and the Enhanced General Packet Radio Service (EGPRS). The EGPRS system models add to the already existing GSM library.

Regardless of which standard is used in a particular design, the creation of complex wireless devices usually starts at the algorithmic or architectural level. At this level of abstraction, designers utilize a variety of functional blocks to simulate different RF standards, channel models, air interfaces, and measurements. SPW supports this process through the use of a hierarchical block-diagram toolset. This toolset provides fast simulation for large designs (see figure). In addition, menu selections allow designers to change data types from floating-point to fixed-point, scalar, or vector types.

Once the algorithmic simulations are complete, attention can be given to a more accurate and comprehensive behavioral model. The modeling of parasitic and electromagnetic effects (e.g., S-parameters) also is needed. SPW supports the need for a more detailed level of design abstraction by providing interfaces to behavioral models like Matlab, SystemC, VHDL, and Verilog. The interfaces also allow designers to reuse existing code from legacy systems or import code from third-party intellectual-property (IP) vendors.

The last category of modeling decomposition is at the device, component, or circuit level. Here, highly accurate mixed-signal simulation tools are required, such as Cadence's Analog/Mixed-Signal (AMS) Designer. CoWare's SPW development environment provides integration via an SPW Link to Implementation (SPWLTI), which connects to hardware implementations.

The new SPW tool from CoWare is now shipping. The UWB reference model is available to valid SPW WLAN users as part of a maintenance update. For an annual subscription license, pricing starts at $10,000 (U.S.). For more information, contact CoWare or visit its web site.

CoWare, Inc. 2121 N. First St., San Jose, CA 95131; (408) 436-4720, FAX: (408) 436-4740, www.coware.com.


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