Exhibition caters to China's SoC sector

China's SoC industry has seen remarkable growth recently. However, there are only a handful of local SoC solution providers. Adding to this is the minimal experience and exposure local IC companies have in IP selection and application.

Meanwhile, with the rising popularity of design outsourcing, more and more companies are setting up design centers in China. Engineers are now requiring more services and support from IP providers.

S2C Inc. responds this challenge by providing China's SoC industry with IP and SoC solutions. Moreover, together with other IP providers such as CAST, eASIC, IPextreme, Tensilica and TranSwitch, S2C organized the first SoCIP Seminar and Exhibition in Beijing on Oct. 13 and in Shanghai, Oct.15, which served as a venue for IP providers and design engineers to meet and exchange ideas.

Silicon IP value The conference in Shanghai featured five forums. In his welcome address, Chen Muren, chairman of the board and chief technology officer of S2C, expounded on the value of silicon IP from a financial point of view. He stressed that adopting commercial IP in the design of next-generation SoC chip is more than saving R& time. "These days, electronic product applications change so fast that they are becoming more of a liability than an asset for SoC companies that are doing designs within their companies the IPs without value added. For internally developed IP, innovation is very vital in order to cope with the constantly changing market demands. Otherwise, these IPs will most probably become more than a burden than an advantage."

IP developments One of the companies working steadfastly on IP is CAST Inc. With a 15-year history, the company provides over 100 kinds of IP products including multimedia image processing products and other digital IP products.

As for eASIC Corp., the company is working on curbing the rising cost of developing ASICs and ASSPs. To address this issue, the company has introduced a patented single-via customization technology. August saw the introduction of Nextreme-2, a family of zero mask-charge NEW ASIC devices, manufactured on a 45nm CMOS process, and built using eASIC's patented technology.

Meanwhile, Li Ran, manager of Tensilica Inc.'s China operations, expounded on the difference between Tensilica and ARM's offerings. "Although both companies provide the 32bit processor cores, the new structure of Tensilica features less power consumption and higher performance. Additionally, Tensilica provides other cores that optimize audio and video, respectively."

IPextreme for its part has a wide variety of product lines and provides solutions ranging from 8bit, 16bit and 32bit processor cores (ColdFire, Power Structure, TriCore, C166, 8051, HCS08, and so on) to USB 2.0 and IEEE-1149.7 cJTAG, including reference clock generator and AMBA bus.

Meanwhile, Limas Lin, director of business development at TranSwitch Corp. related that the HDMI/DP combo PHY technology that the company launched recently is capable of supporting two standards on the same core —HDMI and DisplayPort.

Growing sector Judging from the reception at the SoCIP 2008 forums and exhibition, China SoC design firms have come to realize the need to adopt more mature, commercialized IPs for their design activities. And as China's semiconductor industry supply chain grows, development work on SoC front-end designs becomes more defined. IP providers supply design houses with mature, verified IPs, speeding up development of chips.