Jun 12, 2013

More Than Power Structures

posted by Bryon Moyer

With the multi-domain power beasts being designed into today’s SoCs, it’s easy to miss a detail. Which is why verification is so much more important than it used to be, when inspection and a spreadsheet or two might have gotten you through.

So today you can get verification tools to help you to ensure that the voltages are right and that level shifters and isolation are all in place. But, in a recent announcement, Jasper claims to take things one step further: In addition to verifying the static structure of the power edifice, they can also verify the power sequencing.

They take in the design RTL and the power intent (either UPF for CPF) and, from that, create a model that can be verified using their formal technology. They say that they can check the power optimization structures, power management, and the sequencing. In conjunction with their other tools, they can also check to make sure that the power optimization circuits won’t screw something else in the design up.

You can read more in their release.

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Jun 11, 2013

The Next OCTEON

posted by Bryon Moyer

Cavium has recently announced the latest in their OCTEON line: following OCTEON II is OCTEON III. (Betcha didn’t see that one coming.) If there’s one major theme that seems to underlie their motivations for this family it’s that high-end functionality is moving to the low end. Specifically, in this case, the low end means enterprise access points and service provider gateways. The classic edge.

In particular, they appear very focused on security and network-attached storage. Security has traditionally been done elsewhere; NAS is on the ascendant.

For those of us that use “standard” computers, we’re used to running anti-virus software to combat threats. But an increasing number of people are doing significant things with their phones, and phones don’t have the bandwidth to do spam and virus prevention on top of what they’re already stretching to do. So the service providers are having to put protections at the gateway instead. And what used to be separate security functions like firewalling and content inspection are merging into so-called unified threat management (UTM) boxes.

NAS, to a large extent, involves making the cloud look like a local hard drive. Backup and restore from the cloud. (Although, as an aside, there’s one major hurdle to cloud backup: upload/download speeds. I’ve been using cloud backup. It took a month for the first backup to complete. Seriously. I just did a restore a couple days ago – a .pst file. 1.5 GB. First off, any connection interruption – like the computer going to sleep – completely restarted the restore. It took a total of 3 tries and about 7 hours to do. I was without email for all that time. I felt so bereft.)

The result is a quad-core SoC with three times the performance/power of OCTEON II. It has the usual OCTEON characteristic of a hardware scheduler to manage the packet traffic across the cores. But they’ve also added a hardware deep packet inspection (DPI) engine.

From a software standpoint, they’re providing full virtualization and they have turnkey NAS and DPI packages as well as other Linux apps appropriate to boxes in this part of the network.

You can get more info in their release.

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Jun 06, 2013

Another New Analog Player

posted by Bryon Moyer

On the heels of BDA’s characterization tool, and consistent with increased activity in the analog space, yet another analog tool company is starting up: G-Analog. And it would appear that the essence of their differentiation lies in three letters: GPU.

They’re taking on some of the compute-intensive aspects of analog/SPICE, starting with GChar for characterization and Monte Carlo/OCV analysis. And they’re harnessing the massively parallel capabilities of GPUs to achieve what they say is up to a 50x speed advantage over “traditional” tools.

They’re targeting small- to medium-sized companies that tend not to have the large server farms necessary to accelerate analysis on traditional machines. Instead, you can use graphics accelerator cards. These actually aren’t cheap – G-Analog says that a high-end one is around $3500 (which can actually buy you a lot of server, although doesn’t require the floorspace); each GChar license allows up to four such cards.

You can find more in their release.

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