COMIP: The Design of a High-Performance Multi-core Communications Chip
With a processing capability equivalent to a Pentium 3, and addressing both fixed and wireless communications standards, the COMIP communications chip is a complex design. With aggressive project schedules to meet as well, Datang Microelectronics Technology Co., Ltd, chose to standardize on a Synopsys-based design and verification flow.
Datang Telecomm Technology Co., Ltd (DTT), a leader in information communication technical equipment manufacturing and system development, with it’s subsidiary Datang Microelectronics Technology Co., Ltd (DMT), recently launched COMIP, a communication core chip that can be used in a variety of terminals, including mobile and fixed-line user equipment.
DTT appreciate that efficient design leads to lower costs for communication terminal manufacturers, so the design team set out to create an innovative design that combined the key attributes of low-cost and high-performance in a single chip. However, they had to work to a very demanding schedule. “We had just ten months to get from system requirement to tape-out,” explained Dr. Wei ShaoJun, President & CEO of DTT, and Chairman of DMT.
With such a limited amount of time, tough design challenges are to be expected, and DTT had its share. In this era of million-gate design, verification has become the main obstacle to achieving high productivity. To address the verification issues, DTT needed a new and well-supported verification methodology. “We had to find a solution to the problem of how to integrate various verification IP blocks, bus functional models and design sign-off models,” commented Mr. Yang YanHui, VP Technology & CTO of DMT. “Modeling the entire system, while also reducing simulation time, are critical challenges.”
IP integration can pose a further obstacle. “IP blocks are used in the design in order to meet the time-to-market goals,” stated Yang YanHui. “Whether hard, firm, or soft, the integration of IP blocks brings new challenges to the traditional design flow, including issues of verification, design-for-test and back-end zig-zag routing.”
Yang YanHui elaborated on the decision to go with a Synopsys flow when working on COMIP. “Synopsys provides an integrated and consistent flow to enable deep-submicron design. Their physical synthesis, together with PrimeTime-SI closure flow/sign-off makes the complexities of 0.18-micron design achievable. The OpenVera verification platform gives us a total solution for random stimulus generation, functional coverage, interfacing with the C language and assertion checking. Astro enabled us to perform quick implementation iterations and has strong back-end support.”
Datang also used Synopsys Professional Services for methodology consulting, program management and design services, including physical design implementation assistance, and use of the DesignWare Library’s arithmetic function generators as well as AMBA bus and peripheral IP. “The library delivers a set of trustworthy implementation and verification IP components,” commented Yang YanHui. “It’s very important to have pre-qualified IP because it shortens the design process considerably.”
The next generation of chips is expected to see a number of developments, guided by a need for smaller terminal processing platforms with improved processing capability, higher speed and lower power, all available at a reduced cost. At the moment, COMIP is the multi-core platform to facilitate these ambitions.
- COMIP Technical Specifications
- 16 million transistors
- 19*19mm2 chip size/(7.9*7.9mm2 die size)
- 100MHz clock
- 30 clock domains
- DesignWare® bus and peripheral IP for AMBA interconnect
- ARM946E core and ETM macrocells
- memory blocks
- 5 mixed-signal blocks and a DSP core
- 324 balls, LFBGA package
- 0.18-micro CMOS RF/mixed-signal process
- Key Tools in Datang’s Design Flow
- Synthesis – Design Compiler® Ultra
- TestBench Automation – VCS®/Vera®
- Static Timing Analysis – PrimeTime® / PrimeTime® SI
- Physical optimization, placement and routing – Physical Compiler/Astro
- DesignWare® Library and DesignWare Verification Library
Datang Microelectronics Company at a Glance
Datang Microelectronics Technology Co., Ltd, part of Datang Telecom Technology Co., Ltd, specializes in the design and development of special integrated circuits for telecommunications. Datang Microelectronics complies with the ISO9001 quality system. Currently, Datang Microelectronics’ IC card module factory, tops the production capacity in Asia with its annual output of 120 million IC card modules. Datang Microelectronics’ product line includes: special integrated circuits for SDH communications, SPC switch subscriber line circuits and coder/decoder circuits, special integrated circuits for telephone IC cards, special SIM card chips for GSM mobile phones, IC card modules, optical transmission systems, and IC card application systems.
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|“We had just ten months to get from system requirement to tape-out.”|