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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Uniquify & Samsung: Success and mystery abound

 
April 30th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

It’s the kind of announcement that regularly emanates from IP companies: “Uniquify today announced it developed a DDR3 IP solution for Samsung Electronics’ power-efficient 28nm LPP foundry process that is now in volume production for multiple product lines, including consumer and mobile applications.”

The thing is, there are two bigger take-aways from this announcement than the specifics of the news. One is that news about 28 nanometers is still making news. The way marketing bravado in the industry runs, one would think 10 nanometers is upon us completely.

The other thing is that we’re not talking here about Samsung planning to adopt Uniquify’s DDR3; we’re talking about Samsung using these things in volume production. A very different kettle of fish, and something that IP companies often have so much trouble getting their customers to acknowledge. [Same holds true, of course, for EDA vendors as well.]

The press release quotes Uniquify CEO Josh Lee: “Our close technical association with Samsung makes us quite proud. The results of this high-profile project demonstrate the strength of our DDR IP technology and solutions, and our flexibility and willingness to work closely with our partners to deliver solutions optimized for their specific needs.”

Clearly nothing’s getting done anywhere without a whole bunch of collaboration, flexibility and willingness. But what about IP customization? How much of that was required?

And whether that collaboration makes us all proud, or just a tad richer, is an additional fine point in the discussion. After all, pride without profit ain’t really worth the paper it’s printed on, so let’s hope there was a substantial amount of the latter mixed in with the former.

And so the mysteries of IP continue to defy decryption: How does an IP customer decide to buy from one vendor over another? How does a design team know with certainty when incorporating a bit of third-party IP into a project that it will function properly within that environment. And then there’s the ultimate mystery: How much did that bit of IP cost? Does the answer always need to be: It depends.

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More detail from Uniquify …

“Today’s SoC designs must be able to support DDR memory interfaces running at multi-GHz clock rates while managing read-write timing margins that are measured in picoseconds. Even a small drift in timing on the DDR interface can cause the DDR memory subsystem to fail and, as a result, the entire system fails.

“Uniquify incorporates patented technology in its DDR PHY IP that counteracts the effects of timing shifts due to both static and dynamic variations caused by process, temperature and voltage. Dynamic self-calibrating logic (DSCL) tracks DDR timing at the byte level and automatically centers the sampling point in the middle of the timing window during system operation.

“Dynamic adaptive bit calibration (DABC) works within the byte lane to automatically adjust for any skew differences between bits. Not only do DSCL and DABC allow the DDR memory interface to be optimized for speed by maintaining the robustness of the timing interface, the Uniquify DDR IP architecture also delivers the smallest footprint and lowest power solution.

“In the case of the DDR3 IP developed for Samsung’s 28LPP process, the combination of DSCL and DABC allowed the DDR memory performance to be improved by 10% over the required specification.”

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