Application-specific instruction-set processors (ASIPs) rely on similar techniques as used in the design of hardware accelerators to achieve high performance and low power: heavy use of parallelism and specialized datapath elements. Yet ASIPs retain software programmability within their application domain, resulting in C/C++-programmable processors and accelerators with the lowest power possible.
Synopsys’ ASIP Designer is a tool suite that brings ASIP design within easy reach of every SoC team. Key capabilities include rapid exploration of architectural choices, generation of an efficient C/C++-compiler based software development kit that automatically adapts to every architectural change, and automatic generation of power and area-optimized synthesizable RTL.
ASIP Designer's patented technology supports the following features:
Modeling of ASIP instruction-set architectures in the nML processor description language. nML is a high-level definition language for describing a processor architecture and instruction set (ISA). nML offers designers the abstraction level of a programmer's manual of a processor. Also, with nML the ASIP’s periphery can be modeled in a cycle- and bit-accurate way. nML offers unprecedented architectural breadth, enabling IP development for almost any vertical market.
Unique compiler-in-the-loop technology, enabled by the automatic generation of a comprehensive software development kit (SDK) for each ASIP modeled in nML, containing the following components:
An optimizing compiler, recognized for its efficient code generation and quick and automatic retargetability to new ASIP architectures. The compiler supports C (optionally extended with user-defined data types and operators using C++ classes and function overloading), C++, and OpenCL C (OpenCL kernel language).
The compiler can cope well with architectural peculiarities of DSP cores. It supports instruction-level and data-level parallelism, deeply pipelined instructions, specialized arithmetic functions, custom data-types, specialized address generation units, heterogeneous register structures, and various degrees of instruction encoding (ranging from VLIW to highly encoded instruction sets).
A linker that builds an executable file from separately compiled Elf/Dwarf object files for different C functions.
An assembler and disassembler that translates machine code from assembly into binary format and back.
A fast instruction-set simulator, offering both cycle-accurate and instruction-accurate abstraction levels generated from the same nML model, and easy integration into cycle-accurate and transaction-level virtual prototypes.
A flexible (multicore) debugger, which can be used in connection to both instruction-set simulators and on-chip debug hardware (via JTAG).
Multi-faceted profiling capabilities to analyze the instruction-set architecture for hot-spots and to drive the architectural optimization process.
Automatic generation of a power and area efficient hardware implementation of each ASIP, in synthesizable Verilog or VHDL. A JTAG interface and a debug controller can optionally be generated, to support on-chip debugging.
Multi-faceted verification capabilities, including the automatic generation of ASIP-specific test programs in C and assembly code.
ASIP Designer comes with a wide range of example ASIP designs, with highly differentiating architectures provided in nML source code. This enables designers to quickly start to create their own ASIP targeting their specific application requirements.
See how Synopsys' ASIP Designer tool suite uses a single input specification to generate an SDK featuring a highly optimizing C compiler, instruction-set simulator, assembler, linker and debugger, and synthesizable RTL. The tool's rapid architectural exploration capability and the ability to make rapid changes in your processor model make it easy to optimize the processor for your specific requirements.
Bo Wu Technical Marketing Manager
Steve Cox Sr. Manager, Business Development, Synopsys