Electronics & Computers

Synopsys Launches IP Subsystem for Sensors

August 1, 2013

The ultra-low-power, configurable DesignWare hardware and software platform is optimized to process data from digital and analog sensors and enables rapid integration of sensor functionality into SoCs.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA /PRNewswire/ -- Synopsys Inc., a global leader providing software, IP, and services used to accelerate innovation in chips and electronic systems, announced the availability of the DesignWare Sensor IP Subsystem, a complete and integrated hardware and software solution for sensor control applications. The new IP subsystem is optimized to process data from digital and analog sensors, offloading the host processor and enabling more efficient processing of the sensor data with ultra-low power. The fully configurable subsystem consists of a DesignWare ARC EM4 32-bit processor, digital interfaces, analog-to-digital data converters (ADCs), hardware accelerators, a comprehensive software library of DSP functions, and software I/O drivers. The DesignWare sensor IP subsystem provides designers with a complete and pre-verified solution that meets the requirements of a broad range of applications, such as smart sensors, sensor fusion, and sensor hub.

Sensors are becoming ubiquitous. Many applications, such as the Internet of Things, automobiles, and mobile devices, increasingly rely on the ability to read and interpret environmental conditions, such as pressure, temperature, motion, and proximity. By pre-integrating sensor-specific IP blocks with an efficient processor and software in a single subsystem, Synopsys gives designers a system-on-chip (SoC)-ready sensor solution that can significantly reduce their design and integration effort, lower design risk, and accelerate time to market.

"The total number of sensor units is estimated to grow from just under 10 billion in 2012 to nearly 30 billion in 2017," said Tony Massimini, Chief of Technology at Semico Research. "As more semiconductor suppliers integrate sensor interfaces into their SoCs, the use of sensor IP subsystems such as Synopsys' DesignWare sensor IP subsystem will significantly reduce their integration effort and cost."


  • Integrated, pre-verified hardware and software IP subsystem, consisting of a power- and area-efficient ARC 32-bit processor, digital and analog interfaces, hardware accelerators, software library of DSP functions, and I/O software drivers
  • High configurability, with tightly integrated peripherals and dedicated hardware to maximize sensor processing efficiency
  • More than 10 configurable hardware accelerators, which reduce memory footprint and decrease power consumption by a factor of 10 compared with equivalent discrete component implementations
  • Extensive library of off-the-shelf software DSP functions, including mathematical, filtering, matrix/vector, and decimation/interpolation, which speeds application software development
  • Enables implementations as small as 0.01 mm2, consuming less than 4 µW/MHZ in a 28 nm process

Integrated Hardware
The DesignWare Sensor IP Subsystem features the power- and area-efficient DesignWare ARC EM4 32-bit processor core, which includes custom extensions and instructions that support application-specific hardware accelerators and tightly integrated peripherals. The subsystem includes multiple configurable GPIO, SPI, and I2C digital interfaces for off-chip sensor connections, as well as ARM, AMBA, AHB, and APB protocol system interfaces to ease integration into the full SoC. The analog interfaces include low-power, high-resolution ADCs that efficiently digitize sensor data for the processor. The sensor subsystem's HAPS FPGA-based prototyping solution enables immediate software development and provides a scalable platform for rapid full system integration and validation. Synopsys also offers SoC integration services to help customers integrate the subsystem into their chip or customize it to meet their unique application requirements.

"As the technology leader in magnetic sensor ICs for the automotive market, it is critical that Allegro acquires high-quality IP from a trusted provider such as Synopsys," said Robert Fortin, Director of Sensors Business Unit at Allegro Microsystems, LLC. "Based on our experience, the DesignWare ARC 32-bit processor's combination of high performance, small area, and low power provides key advantages for sensor design over alternative solutions."

Dedicated Software
The DesignWare sensor IP subsystem offers a rich library of DSP functions, including mathematical, complex math, filtering (e.g., FIR, IIR, and correlation), matrix/vector, and decimation/interpolation that help accelerate sensor application code development. In addition, peripheral software drivers are provided to ease integration of the I/O with the ARC EM4 processor, and host drivers are provided to interface the DesignWare sensor IP subsystem to the host processor.

The sensor-specific software functions can also be implemented in hardware to boost performance efficiency and reduce memory footprint. An easy-to-use configuration tool in combination with sensor-specific architectural templates allow designers to quickly select options, such as the DSP functions and digital interfaces, required for their specific application, enabling a complete sensor subsystem to be configured in hours instead of weeks.

"The industry is seeing significant proliferation of sensor-enabled devices in homes, cars, and on-the-go," said John Koeter, Vice President of Marketing for IP and Systems at Synopsys. "These devices require integrated sensor SoCs that deliver high performance, small area, and low power consumption. Synopsys' pre-verified, SoC-ready sensor subsystem provides designers with a higher level of hardware and software IP integration, enabling them to achieve their design goals faster and with significantly less risk."

Availability & Resources
The DesignWare sensor IP subsystem is targeted for availability in October 2013 to early adopters, with general availability planned for Q4 2013. For more information, please visit the company's Web site.

About DesignWare IP
Synopsys is a leading provider of high-quality, silicon-proven IP solutions for SoC designs. The broad DesignWare IP portfolio includes complete interface IP solutions, consisting of controllers, PHY, and verification IP for widely used protocols, analog IP, embedded memories, logic libraries, processor cores, and subsystems. To support software development and hardware/software integration of the IP, Synopsys offers drivers, transaction-level models, and prototypes for many of its IP products. Synopsys' HAPS FPGA-based prototyping solution enables validation of the IP and the SoC in the system context. Synopsys' Virtualizer virtual prototyping tool set allows developers to start the development of software for the IP or the entire SoC significantly earlier compared with traditional methods. With a robust IP development methodology, extensive investment in quality, IP prototyping, software development, and comprehensive technical support, Synopsys enables designers to accelerate time-to-market and reduce integration risk. For more information on DesignWare IP, visit the company's Web site.

About Synopsys
Synopsys Inc. accelerates innovation in the global electronics market. As a leader in electronic design automation (EDA) and semiconductor IP, Synopsys delivers software, IP, and services to help engineers address their design, verification, system, and manufacturing challenges. Since 1986, engineers around the world have been using Synopsys technology to design and create billions of chips and systems.

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