July 07, 2008
“Blue Ocean Strategy” + OVP (Open Virtual Platform)
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Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
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Adding to the momentum of what is happening we are working with several other silicon IP providers to go for the certification of models which will be our next announcement.

On the website we have many demonstrations which go from simple processors. You basically just click on it. This is our simulator running. It runs on Windows. It has been downloaded to this machine. This is running 700 million instructions per second.

The great thing abut this is if you look at the C code which is the platform, you instance one processor, instance another and instance the shared resources, all very simple. That’s connecting the bus up. You end up with a structure. The stuff just runs and runs extremely fast. It runs at speeds that people can actually use it on laptops to get real work done. It is not this humongous thing where you need a big workstation. With embedded systems you typically run 100 MHZ to 200 MHz. That was running at 400 MIPS. It is faster than real time. Our first customer was a company called Azul. They had a 64 bit processor, 24 processors on a chip. Actually three chips in total for 96
processors. They said that it boots the OS faster than the real hardware. I could not believe it. They are very happy with it which is great. Here is an example of 24 hours running a Drystone benchmark. With OVP (free to use, free to download, usable with existing processor models), it ran 270 million instruction per seconds.

The interesting thing about Tensilica is that it talks through a FIFO not through shared memory. It is point to point. The example here is C code. You have a string, part of the US constitution. You get the next character and write it to the FIFO. A very simple use model. We are trying to make it very easy to use. It works with GDB, the standard industry debugger. It works inside Eclipse which is a big open source from IBM. You can boot Linux.

This is a MIPS executable running on a 686. It is going to boot Linux. It runs 3 to 4 times faster than real time. The platform thinks it is an MIPS processor. You can write your own programs and compile them like the “Hello, World” here. You can mount file systems. A 2GHz platform is 5x faster then the real system. You can do real software development work without the hardware. We do heterogeneous things like 3 ARMS and a MIPS

The platform is a model of all the components. You get VGA, keyboard, PCI, real time clock, memory, … You can add your own behavioral components. Someone in India is putting in a USB peripheral. They have a behavioral model of that. They are writing a driver to run on Linux. The great thing is that they develop the whole thing running on simulation. This is what OVP is.

Where Imperas comes in is that we sell a good development environment on top of this to do debug and analysis. OVP is fast, free, easy to use, gives simulation running at 500 MIPS. It is all about virtual platforms, multiprocessors, shared local memory, memory mapping, caching, debugging, .. This is what people do. We have website where we have the library of components. There is a forum there, downloadable pages and videos of demonstrations so that people can see how it works. With the OVP there are full instructions. People can scan the website. There are screenshots of what to do. For example this is how you install.

We are trying to make it very easy for people all around the world. It is very interesting. Universities are starting to do this. Some big companies have come back to us and said “We really like this. We did not like the idea that if we built a model in your environment, you would then charge us $10,000 every time we shipped it. We didn’t want that but this has changed the whole dynamic. We can use this. We can download it. We can build a model and give it to our customers”. From the Imperas point of view that’s exactly what we want because as they go multicore, they will have to buy tools. For a single processor they can use GDP. It is very easy GDP in that case but
that doesn’t do the logical stuff at all. We believe that to do multicore fundamentally you have to have a simulator underneath. These tools like GDP are not designed for simulation. Better tools are needed.

Your basic business model is to sell follow on tools for debugging and verification.

Yes. I showed you the four steps. Imperas tools are filling the next step. We have technology in here. We have not really announced the tools. We have all this debug stuff. We have some very clever technology called “interception technology” which allows you to track what is going on. We have the technology and we are building something sort of like Verisity Specman but for embedded software. Verisity Specman is built on top of Verilog. What this does is build on top of simulation.

So the technology is not currently available for sale.

We have early adopters of it. We have not announced it. Our first customer actually started using it two years ago. We have been evolving it, improving it. We are trying to understand what it is that people are doing when doing software development of kernels and drivers; what they truly need. We have to package things for a specific processor like MIPS Linux development kit. They do not want a bunch of tools. They want solutions. They know that they have got a MIPS processor and they know that they are putting Linux on it. Lots of people do that.

What we are trying to do is to focus on the customers rather than publicizing it. We are focusing on OVP and making sure that people can use this technology. Because we have this community of people using OVP, there are some channels to talk to. They are asking us how to do this and how to do that. It is almost one on one. It is growing. It is very soon.

At the moment we are out fund raising. As a startup we need to keep doing this until you get enough revenue to pay for everything. My first job is to close the next round of financing (You can’t run out of money.) My second job is to make sure that OVP is useful. Continue to add real stuff, more processors, more certified models.

We are working hard and making good progress but we are trying to do things in a different way from the traditional way where people try to sell everything. In the software world so much of what people use is open source. We are a great believer in open source. We use a lot of it internally. We are trying to build a business on that.

Editor: Under products on Imperas website it simply says: “Imperas will announce its products in early 2008. Imperas is engaging with select customers today. If you are facing the challenges of MPSoC - then contact us.”

Editor: “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborqne was published by Harvard University Press in 2005. There is a website
www.blueoceanstrategy.com On the website there is information about the book, the authors, teaching tools related to the strategy and INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute (IBOSI) which is located in the forest of Fontainebleau just opposite INSEAD, the world’s second largest business school

An excerpt from that website appears below:

“Blue oceans, in contrast, denote all the industries not in existence today -- the unknown market space, untainted by competition. In blue oceans, demand is created rather than fought over. There is ample opportunity for growth that is both profitable and rapid. In blue oceans, competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are waiting to be set. Blue ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored. Like the “blue” ocean, it is untouched, vast and deep in terms of profitable growth.

Blue ocean strategy provides a systematic approach to break out of the red ocean of bloody competition and make the competition irrelevant by reconstructing market boundaries to create a leap in value for both the company and its buyers. Instead of competing in existing industries, blue ocean strategy equips companies with frameworks and analytic tools to create their own blue ocean of uncontested market space. The book, however, tackles not only the challenge of how to create blue oceans, but also the equally important challenge of how to execute these ideas in action in any organization.”

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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.


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