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When designing a new chip, the first thing a customer wants to do when receiving the initial silicon, is to “boot it up” and check it works. Sondrel’s software team, working closely with its chip designers, now enables customers to have boot up ready prototypes as soon as silicon is available so that they can be quickly evaluated, and application specific software installed, run and debugged. This is because the team has created a library of drivers and “Boot ROM” code for use in each of Sondrel’s five Architecting the Future™ IP platforms that form the basis of its ASIC projects.
Sondrel is one of the few SoC design service providers to have an in-house software team that works with the in-house hardware team to provide a closely coupled development of the Architecting the Future hardware and software. “Our in-house software team can ensure the prototypes that we provide to customers boot up out-of-the-box, ready for the customer to evaluate running their own software,” explained James Gatt, Sondrel’s Director of Software Engineering. “In other words, we can write the secure boot ROM, and configure the chosen OS (RTOS or Linux as appropriate) with drivers for the various IP on the SoC so that the standard OS APIs are ready for application libraries and code to use them. As we provide the low-level software, customers know that the hardware and software have been sympathetically optimised during development, and that we have fully verified them in design and validated them as part of our bring-up service, which reduces risk and time-to-market.”
Sondrel’s Architecting the Future range of pre-designed, reference platforms enables the company to fast track the creation of a solution that exactly meets each customer’s needs. Based on Sondrel’s many years of designing complex digital chips, the range has a solution for most application needs from small – the SFA 100, medium – the SFA 200 to large – the SFA 300 along with two variants for automotive – the SFA 250A and the SFA 350A.
Each one is scalable so that the appropriate processor types and cores can be dropped in and they can also be coupled together for even more powerful solutions. “The whole concept is to be as modular as possible with tried and tested parts to de-risk and speed up the whole process of creating a solution,” explained Ian Walsh, Sondrel’s VP of ASIC Business Development. “Customers can be secure in the knowledge that we can use any legacy or advanced process nodes and only the best IP from our established partners. And, be confident that we have the in-depth expertise to bring them all together into the appropriate Architecting the Future platform. Having the drivers for each of the platforms is the final piece in the jigsaw of our ASIC turnkey service that seamlessly takes a customer’s concept right though the prototype phase to shipping production silicon.”