Lending a Helping Hand

LPKF Laser & Electronics North America has signed a distribution agreement with WestDev Ltd., in Tewksbury (U.K.) to distribute Pulsonix, a Windows-based EDA system. Pulsonix reads schematics, designs, and libraries from most commonly used EDA systems. LPKF now manages the distribution, technical support, and training of the Pulsonix PCB layout and schematic package in North America.

Mentor Graphics Corp. and PartMiner, Inc. announced the launch of PartMiner CAPS DMS, which will allow Mentor Graphics customers to access the PartMiner repository of component and pin data directly from within the Mentor Graphics' DMS Xchange application. DMS users now have direct access to PartMiner's CAPS database, with specifications of 21 million components from 2,000+ manufacturers. Mentor Graphics customers who subscribe to PartMiner's CAPS DMS can use DMS search criteria to select manufacturer, part number, parametric, lifecycle and pin-out data, and automatically import this information. Subscribers will also be able to select and download XML pin data files directly from CAPS for component symbol generation. Combining the XML pin data with Mentor Graphics symbol generation tools will allow the customer to build symbols to specified standards.

Microsoft Corp. and MIPS Technologies Inc. announced an alliance of silicon vendors to help promote the MIPS architecture and the Microsoft Windows CE .NET operating system for OEMs developing digital consumer devices. MIPS Alliance for Windows CE members include: ADMtek Inc., AMD Inc., ATI Technologies Inc., Broadcom Corp., Marvell Technology Group Ltd., NEC Electronics Corp., PMC-Sierra Inc., Texas Instruments Inc. and Toshiba Corp. Microsoft and MIPS say that the alliance is the result of a 10-year relationship between the two companies, and is in response to demand for Windows CE support on 32- and 64-bit MIPS-based microprocessors.

Monterey Design Systems announced that TeraChip Inc. has successfully completed its first switch fabric design using the Monterey tool suite. TeraChip is currently sampling its new TCF16X10 single-chip 160G switch fabric, with volume production scheduled for Q2/2003. The TCF16X10 switch fabric IC employs a proprietary shared-memory architecture and delivers an aggregate 160-Gbit/second switching capacity. It was implemented with TSMC's 0.13-micron process technology and dissipates 15 watts.

Also from Monterey - The company announced that Acuid Corp. has purchased the Monterey design tools suite for use on chips with ultra-high bandwidth interfaces (>100Gbps). The tool suite includes IC Wizard, Sonar, and Dolphin and will displace Acuid's existing tool set as the standard IC design flow at Acuid's design center in St. Petersburg, Russia. Acuid provides high-speed digital interfaces where each signal pin can run at over 28Gbps in commodity CMOS processes. The high-speed interfaces are integrated with memory, processor cores, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet in products such as 10GbE XFP to PCI chips. Within the chips, the internal clock speed slows considerably due to the de-serialization of the signals onto wide, multi-bit buses. Acuid believes that it will be able to double the internal clock speed using the Monterey tools.

National Semiconductor announced a 100V cascaded DC-DC controller-driver chipset with programmable timing designed for power conversion in computer and communications systems. The company also introduced two 100V power MOSFET drivers that work with the new controller, providing a chipset for communications power systems, automotive power systems, -48 V distributed power systems, motor drive systems, and industrial power supplies. The chipset has been endorsed by Magnetek.The cascaded buck-fed topology is preferred in applications with a large voltage step-down ratios. The turns ratio of the isolation transformer allows the buck pre-regulator to operate at larger duty cycles, improving efficiency.

STMicroelectronics announced details of a new family of multimedia application processor chips for portable terminals for music, photography, video recording, and hosting two-way visual communication in real time. These processors are intended for 2.5/3G mobile phones, PDAs and other portable wireless products with multimedia capability, as well as applications in automotive multimedia. The company says the Nomadik family will offer low power consumption by way of optimal partitioning of the chip between hardware and software, combined with low-power CMOS technology, which will allow for longer battery operation for consumers and performance scalability for manufacturers. The new chips are based on an ARM926EJ-S core in combination with programmable “smart accelerators” that operate independently and concurrently to handle the video and audio coding functions, including pre/post-processing. The distributed processing approach simplifies software development for developers because they only need to write code for the ARM core.

Synopsys, Inc. announced that it has opened third-party access to its Milkyway design database. The news is seen by many to be significant because customers and EDA tool vendors can link their tools directly into the Milkyway environment through either a scripting language API or a C-based API. The company says Milkyway is the most widely used database for IC design implementation and advanced technologies extending to 90 nanometers and below. More than 40 universities and semiconductor, EDA, test and manufacturing, and IP companies have announced support for opening Milkyway. Philippe Magarshack, Group Vice President for Design Automation, Central Research and Development at STMicroelectronics said, “This announcement represents a significant step towards a standard interface to the design database, which should lead, we believe, to better interoperability across the whole EDA industry.”

The Milkyway environment is available to all EDA vendors through Synopsys' new MAP-in program. MAP-in gives members free access to a copy of the Milkyway environment documentation and software, a runtime license for the APIs for integration development, an invitation to Synopsys' EDA Interoperability Developers' Forums, access to Synopsys' Secured User Research Facility, and an on-line Milkyway discussion forum. In addition, there is an annual, comprehensive service option for those who would like a deeper level of support. Fourteen EDA companies have joined MAP-in.

Silicon Canvas, Inc. announced it has joined Synopsys' MAP-in program, giving the company access to Synopsys' Milkyway design database and environment for the integration of commercial EDA tools. The company says that through MAP-in, Silicon Canvas' full-custom layout tool, Laker, will have a tight interface with Synopsys' Hercules physical verification tool by using the Milkyway API. Silicon Canvas can now deliver products already integrated with the Milkyway Environment.

Mentor Graphics announced that it has reached agreement with Synopsys to integrate its IC design products with the Milkyway design database from Synopsys. Mentor and Synopsys have agreed to jointly maintain and support the integration in future product releases from both companies. IC design tools to be integrated include Mentor's Calibre Design-to-Silicon and IC Station analog/mixed-signal design flows. The company says these tools will have an easy-to-support interface to the Milkyway database.

Also from Synopsys - The company introduced the Galaxy Design Platform, an open, integrated design implementation platform for IC design. Galaxy Design Platform will integrate Synopsys' IC implementation tools and IP, including Design Compiler, DFT Compiler, Power Compiler, DesignWare, Floorplan Compiler, Physical Compiler, Astro, PrimeTime, TetraMAX, Star-RCXT, Hercules, and Proteus. The company say Galaxy Design Platform will incorporate consistent timing, common libraries, delay calculation, and constraints from RTL all the way to silicon, using the common Milkyway database. In addition, Galaxy allows designers to integrate internally developed and third-party tools through Milkyway.

It's been a busy week, because also from Synopsys - The company announced the DesignWare AMBA Compliance Tool (ACT). Coordinated with Synopsys' DesignWare AMBA On-Chip Bus (OCB) IP, DesignWare ACT will allow designers to certify that their IP and designs are compliant with the AMBA 2.0 interconnection standard. Designers certifying their IP with DesignWare ACT may participate in the ARM AMBA Compliance Program and use the "AMBA Compliant" trademark to differentiate and promote their IP for use in AMBA technology based SoC designs. DesignWare ACT is written in the OpenVera verification language.

TDK Semiconductor Corp. announced the availability of the 73S1121F, an SOC for smart card terminals. The device integrates all functionality for implementing smart card terminals for network access security, e-purse terminals, payphones, vending machines, and inexpensive POS terminal applications. The chip includes an 8052 processor, a USB interface, two built-in smart card interfaces with a dedicated hardware ISO7816 UART, multiple development software layers, multiple I/Os, 64KB of Flash, 4KB of user-RAM, a PIN pad interface, and other on-chip functions.

Texas Instruments Inc. introduced a programmable chipset the company says will allow cellular infrastructure manufacturers to create low-cost, differentiated channel cards for 3G base stations without having to develop their own custom ASIC. The new chipset features a DSP tailored for wireless infrastructure and tightly coupled transmit and receive chip-rate ASSPs. The customizable combination will allow per-channel cost reductions of up to 50 percent.

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