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The recent ARM TechCon conference was a great success, and so much happened in 3 days there that it's very difficult to keep track of it all. Here's a "coverage roundup" that includes some pointers to blogs, articles, and videos that might help fill in anything you missed - or shed more light on something you saw or heard.
ARM TechCon was held October 25-27 in Santa Clara, California. As I noted in a "preview" blog post in September, it was really two conferences in one - a Chip Design Conference Oct. 25, and a Software & Systems Design Conference Oct. 26-27. Cadence was the official signature sponsor this year and had a number of activities and papers, particularly during the Chip Design Conference.
ARM TechCon - The Week Before
To tell the full story of ARM TechCon 2011, we need to go back in time a week and note two significant developments. One occurred Oct. 18, when ARM and Cadence announced the industry's first 20nm tapeout of the ARM Cortex-A15 processor. That announcement also brought news that ARM and Cadence have worked together to optimize a tool flow for advanced ARM processors. More information about those optimizations is included in the following Industry Insights blog post:
Cadence-ARM Collaboration Brings Optimized Tools to SoC Designers
The other significant development was the Oct. 19 launch of the ARM Cortex-A7, "the most energy-efficient application class processor ARM has ever developed," according to the press release. There was much discussion at ARM TechCon about this new processor, and the "Big.LITTLE" architecture that allows it to be paired with the ARM Cortex-A15. You can read more about it in Steve Leibson's EDA360 Insider blog post:
ARM drops Cortex-A7 core on unsuspecting market, devastates low-power SoC and application-processor landscapes. What's it all mean?
Chip Design Conference
The Chip Design Conference Oct. 25 featured three keynote speeches, including an industry address by Chi-Ping Hsu, senior vice president of R&D at Cadence; paper sessions, including 5 from Cadence; and a "fireside chat" with Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan. All events were well attended and some of the paper sessions were standing-room-only events.
The following blog post by Andrew Frame of ARM gives a good general overview with some embedded videos, including a video with Pankaj Mayor, acting head of marketing at Cadence, who provides an update on recent collaborations between Cadence and ARM.
ARM Partner Collaboration in Full Force at Chip Design Day, ARM TechCon 2011
Chi-Ping Hsu Industry Address
In his industry address, Chi-Ping Hsu (right) tackled some of the toughest issues in EDA, including 20nm challenges such as double patterning, and showed how "vertical" collaboration is needed across the semiconductor supply chain. One example of such collaboration was announced that day -- a 32nm ARM-based SoC designed at Ambarella in cooperation with Samsung and Cadence. The following Industry Insights blog post has details about the address:
ARM TechCon Address: High Stakes at Low Process Nodes
Following the industry address, John Donovan of Low-Power Design did two video interviews with Hsu - one focusing on collaboration, the other on low power - as well as an ARM TechCon video interview with Pankaj Mayor. You will find them here.
Paper: Tips and Tricks for Cortex-A15 Designs
Among the many papers given at the Chip Design Conference was a "tips and tricks" paper that showed how Cadence and Texas Instruments successfully pioneered one of the first ARM Cortex-A15 designs. You can read more here:
ARM TechCon Paper: "Tips and Tricks" for Cortex-A15 Designs
Fireside Chat with Lip-Bu Tan
At the "fireside chat," Simon Segars (left in photo below), executive vice-president and general manager of ARM, discussed a number of interesting issues with Lip-Bu Tan. The conversation included vertical collaboration, the prospects for venture funding for semiconductor startups, cloud computing for EDA, making engineering exciting for students, and a recommendation to see the new movie "Moneyball." You can read some highlights in this Industry Insights blog post:
ARM TechCon: Q&A With Lip-Bu Tan, Cadence CEO
This event was also covered by EE Times:
Cadence CEO laments loss of VC in semis
Advice for Designing with ARM Cores
Meanwhile, Steve Leibson had some interesting discussions with ARM executives and wrote a couple of blog posts that will be helpful to anyone designing with ARM processors:
Some critical considerations for SoC and Silicon Realization teams thinking about using ARM Cortex-A7 or ARM Cortex-A8 processor cores
How about a quick and easy guide to ARM Cortex processor cores? Got one for you from ARM TechCon 2011
Software & Systems Design Conference
Zinq-7000 Virtual Platform
Oct. 26 brought news that Xilinx and Cadence have teamed up to develop an "extensible" virtual platform for the Xilinx Zynq-700 Extensible Processing Platform, which includes an ARM Cortex-A9 processor and a 28nm FPGA fabric. The virtual platform will be based on the Cadence Virtual System Platform. Further information is in the following blog posts:
System Design & Verification: Welcome to the Zynq-7000 Virtual Platform
Industry Insights: Virtual Platform for Xilinx Zynq - Why "Extensible" Matters
EDA360 Insider: Want to start writing code for the two ARM Cortex-A9 processors on the Xilinx Zynq-7000 EPP right now? Virtual Platform makes it possible
64-bit ARMv8 Architecture
The big news Oct. 27 was ARM's announcement of a 64-bit processor architecture called ARMv8. This was revealed in a keynote speech by ARM CTO Mike Muller. Steve Leibson penned these blog posts :
ARM unveils 64-bit v8 architecture at ARM TechCon 2011
AppliedMicro demos FPGA emulation of multicore server chip based on new 64-bit ARMv8 architecture
An ARMv8 technology review by Richard Grisenthwaite, lead architect and fellow at ARM, is available here:
Finally, these blog posts from Lori Kate Smith at ARM provide general overviews of Day 2 and Day 3 at ARM TechCon:
(Day 2) Breadth of ARM Ecosystem Demonstrated at Software and Systems Design Day
(Day 3) ARM TechCon: ARM CTO Announces ARMv8 Architecture, UN, Rubik's Cube & Growth
Parting Shot: "The Week the World Changed"
That's the title of an Industry Note that analyst Gary Smith wrote about ARM TechCon. He admits he's exaggerating, but he views the conference and the ARMv8 announcement as an indication that mainstream computing has "changed significantly."
Want a Replay? EE Times Virtual ARM Conference
Selected portions of ARM TechCon will be repeated at an EE Times "virtual event" Nov. 16 and 17. For information and registration, click here.
Chi-Ping Hsu photo by Joe Hupcey III