IMEC, Target Compiler Technologies Team on Ultra-Low Power SoC Design

IMEC and Target Compiler Technologies, a leader in EDA tools for the design and programming of application-specific processors (ASIPs), announced that they have entered into a collaboration agreement aiming at advancing the state-of-the-art in ultra-low power system-on-chip design. The new collaboration fits in IMEC’s R&D activities on wireless autonomous transducer solutions at the Holst Centre and will be centered around Target’s Chess/Checkers tool-suite for ASIP design.

As part of the agreement, IMEC and residents of partners of the wireless autonomous transducer solutions program will have access to Target’s Chess/Checkers tool suite to design and program novel ultra-low power ASIP cores that will become the computational heart of new autonomous wireless sensor nodes. Power efficiency of several hundred MOPS/mW is targeted. Also, IMEC and Target will jointly investigate new design methodologies to push the power efficiencies of programmable architectures to the next level.

Multi-processor system-on-chip platforms based on ASIPs hold the promise of meeting the ultra-low power challenges of wireless sensor nodes, thanks to their inherent parallelism and architectural specialization.

“We benchmarked Target’s Chess/Checkers tools and found that the resulting ASIPs have power efficiencies comparable to fixed-function hardware while still offering post-silicon programmability,” said Bert Gyselinckx, program director wireless autonomous transducer solutions at IMEC. “Programmability is important because of the required diversity, both in terms of radio standards and system functionality. We expect that, through our collaboration with Target, we can further improve on power efficiencies for ASIP-based design as well as improve the ease of building extremely power-efficient wireless transducer systems,” Gyselinckx added.

“Low-power requirements have been an important driver for the recent success of ASIPs,” commented Gert Goossens, Target’s CEO. “Target’s tools have been adopted by several of the largest players in power-sensitive markets like wireless communications and portable multimedia. In the power-critical market of hearing instruments, Target today is the leading provider for processor technologies. Applications like wireless sensor networks will require even further innovation for power savings. Our collaboration with the low-power experts of IMEC will enable us to further extend our ASIP design tools to remain at the forefront of ultra-low power design.”

Within its ultra-low power DSP program for wireless autonomous transducer solutions, IMEC is developing novel signal processing techniques, architectures and devices for wireless sensor nodes. Such devices are intended to be used in high-tech industrial automation, as well as in healthcare applications, where the prospect of ultra-low-power wireless devices opens up whole new opportunities in personal care and well-being. These nodes are typically powered by a tiny battery or an energy scavenger, and have power budgets under 100µW for the whole system, including radio processing, data processing and memories.

About IMEC
IMEC is a world-leading independent research center in nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. Its research focuses on the next generations of chips and systems, and on the enabling technologies for ambient intelligence. IMEC’s research bridges the gap between fundamental research at universities and technology development in industry. Its unique balance of processing and system know-how, intellectual property portfolio, state-of-the-art infrastructure and its strong network of companies, universities and research institutes worldwide position IMEC as a key partner for shaping technologies for future systems. IMEC vzw is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, has a sister company IMEC-Nl in the Netherlands, concentrating on wireless autonomous transducer solutions, and has representatives in the US, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1500 people includes more than 500 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2006, its revenue (P&L) was EUR 227 million.

About the Holst Centre
The Holst Centre was set up in 2005 with support from Economic Affairs of the Netherlands and the Flemish Government and is located on the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. The center is the creation of IMEC (Flanders, Belgium) and TNO (The Netherlands) and will grow into an international recognized open R&D institute that develops generic technologies and technology platforms for autonomous wireless transducer solutions and systems-on-foil. The activities on wireless autonomous transducer solutions in the Holst Centre are run by IMEC-NL, the sister company of the Belgian research centre IMEC. Interaction and cooperation with both academia and industry, including small- and medium-sized enterprises, enables the Holst Centre to tune its scientific strategy to the long-term corporate strategies of its partners. A beneficial transfer of technology to the industry is guaranteed and market requirements can be anticipated.

About Target Compiler Technologies
Target Compiler Technologies is the leading provider of retargetable software tools to automate the design, programming and verification of application-specific processor cores (ASIPs). Target’s Chess/Checkers tool suite has been applied by customers worldwide for diverse application domains, including DECT, GSM, WCDMA and HSDPA handsets, VoIP, audio coding, car infotainment, ADSL and VDSL modems, wireless LAN, hearing instruments, mobile image processing, video processing, and various control and interfacing applications. Target is a spin-off of IMEC, is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, with North American operations in Boulder, Colorado.