Ricoh: Super-parallel Processing
   Engine Enables High-End Image Processor

With 32-million transistors and a clock speed of 280MHz, Ricoh’s latest image processing device delivers twice the compute performance and with 3.5x the embedded memory compared with their previous generation product. Use of Synopsys tools was critical in helping the design team meet their goals.

Office automation multi-function products (MFPs) combine fax, copy and print facilities in a compact form factor. Aimed at small office and home office users with limited space, the performance demands for such products have been steadily increasing. As well as meeting the imaging performance requirements, Ricoh’s key concerns in addressing this market are that the products should be user-friendly, effective, and available worldwide at a low cost.

Ricoh’s ‘Ri2001’ high-end image processor is a 32-million transistor design which operates at a clock speed of 280MHz. Targeted at MFPs, the real-time image processing is facilitated through software that runs on the specialised architecture using an instruction set that consists of 69 Single-Instruction Multiple Data stream (SIMD) and 40 control instructions.

The Ri2001 integrates Ricoh’s Ri20 core (a unique, super parallel processing engine) and additional function blocks for image processing. Its embedded software executes real time, high resolution and high-speed image processing, for example, image correction, zoom, and gradation, processes that are traditionally executed in hardware using hardwired ASIC or FPGA designs. The solution enables flexible system design and significantly reduces costs and time to market.

“Software-based image processing means we can create different products on one hardware platform,” notes Kenji Wakabayashi, general manager, Imaging System LSI Development Center of Electronic Devices Company, RICOH COMPANY, LTD. “With our advanced ideas and technologies, we can quickly provide a wide range of unique end products to our customers.”

Ricoh Figure 1
Figure 1. Design Layout Ricoh Ri20

When designing the chip, the key challenges arose from adopting new technology. Mr. Wakabayashi expands on this: “Using DSM process technology – 0.13-micron with 8 metal layers to develop a high-density chip meant that we had to get the integration scale and accuracy right in our design and verification environments. We had to develop many specialized libraries of intellectual property for the processor. This included libraries for standard cells, I/O, analog, memory and the phase-locked loop (PLL).”

The new design process proved successful. The Ri2001 is a significant step up from the last generation of chips. “In just one chip, it has twice the computing performance and 3.5 times the embedded memory of our previous version, the Ri1001A, so we are endowing MFPs with more sophisticated features and higher performance image processing,” Mr. Wakabayashi says.

The ‘Ri20 image processor family’ has significant advantages in many application areas which require high resolution and high speed image processing capability. This includes medical appliances, image inspection apparatus, image scanners, photo image processing units and so on. The Ri20 image processor family is proving popular for many of these high-growth applications.

Design Parameters
The core of Ricoh’s design is an embedded super parallel processing SIMD engine containing 352 processor elements, each containing 1kByte of memory dedicated to image processing. The total memory allocated to image processing within the device is 512kBytes. The architecture delivers impressive performance of 98.6 GOPS (Giga operations per second), with a peak execution rate of 5,632 bits. An image data transfer rate of 1.28Gbit/s is enabled by 8 image processing ports which are dedicated to image data input/output. This approach supports large image data and high-speed image processing by the multiprocessor architecture, with direct connection to the image processing port. The design features dedicated hardware that supports functionality for image zoom in/out, mirroring, LUT and status transformation.

Ricoh Figure 2
Figure 2. Ri20 Family Architecture

Ricoh used a Synopsys tool suite to achieve its design goals. “Moving into DSM (Deep sub-micron) process technology, design issues such as cross-talk, IR Drop and DFM (Design for Manufacturing) became more critical. Hence, we fully leveraged Synopsys’ tools for the success of this design,” explains Mr. Wakabayashi.

Synopsys’ KAZAM™- part of the market-leading Cadabra® family in automated standard cell layout – was used to generate the original standard and datapath cell transistor layout in a distinctive cell architecture. This is one of the very important requirements to be able to realize a high speed and multi functional processor core. Star-RCXT™ enabled the execution of huge chip, macro and macro-selective extraction for high accuracy verification. HSPICE was used for verifying and simulating with high accuracy. Astro™ enabled both block and top level place and routing. Astro and Astro IU also performed optimal P&R for bus/pin-to-pin custom wiring and custom/automatic shielding to prevent cross-talk delay. Theses applications also offered advantages in tracing recommended DFM rules, such as wire spreading, and were very helpful to achieve layout editing, such as power line. The Ricoh design team created an original power mesh that perfectly resolved any IR-Drop issue using, Astro-Rail™ to perform the analysis.

Key Tools in Ricoh’s Design Flow
  • Synthesis – Synopsys Design Compiler®
  • Circuit Simulation – Synopsys HSPICE®
  • Physical optimization, placement and routing, layout editing – Synopsys Astro™
  • Extraction and back-annotation – Synopsys Star-RCXT™
  • IR drop analysis – Synopsys Astro-Rail™

“We believe that Synopsys tools deliver advanced and excellent capabilities which are indispensable for the development of high-end SoCs such as the ‘Ri2001 image processor’. We will take advantage of these tools for our next-generation chip design,” Mr. Wakabayashi explains.

Demand for higher performance imaging products shows no sign of slowing down. “It means we have to continuously realize a higher operation frequency, increasing the number of parallel processing lines, and embedding more memory on a chip,” Mr. Wakabayashi says.

With imaging technology developing at a fast rate, it will be interesting to see how Ricoh adjusts to meet the requirements of the next generation.

Technical Specifications
  • 352 Processing Elements
  • Video Port Width: 1.28Gbit/s
  • 32M transistors
  • Clock: 280 MHz
  • On-chip RAM: 512kBytes
  • Process: 0.13-micron, High Speed CMOS, 8 layer metal

Ricoh at a Glance
A pioneer in digital office equipment, Ricoh ( offers a broad range of office solutions with world class support and services, including MFPs, printers, fax machines, DVD+RW/+R drives and media. With 381 consolidated subsidiaries worldwide, employing approximately 73,200 people, the Ricoh Group posted consolidated total sales of 1,780.2 billion yen ($17.1 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2004.

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“We believe that Synopsys tools deliver advanced and excellent capabilities which are indispensable for the development of high-end SoCs such as the ‘Ri2001 image processor’.”

Kenji Wakabayashi, general manager, Imaging System LSI Development Center of Electronic Devices Company, RICOH COMPANY, LTD.