Intellectual property (IP) provider Sand Microelectronics will target a market which some are referring to as “the only sure thing,” when it introduces a pair of synthesizable IEEE-1394 soft cores here at the IP’98 conference, a move that also expands the company’s growing list of PC peripheral bus macros.
Sand is unveiling two soft IEEE-1394 cores including the 1394DC device controller core and the 1394 CPHY digital cable-PHY core. In addition, the company is rolling out a design tool kit, dubbed the Sand Designer Advantage kit, that consists of an IEEE-1394 simulation mode, synthesizable cores and design aids. Babu Chilukuri, VP of business development at Sand, said the company is targeting its 1394 IP cores toward the multimedia, disk drive and PC audio markets. Utilizing 1394 bus cores will be another way for PC makers to differentiate their products from one another.
“A lot of analysts predict that 1394 is the only sure thing in the industry these days,” said Mr. Chilukuri. “One of the keys is the software sup port with (Microsoft’s) Windows. Intel is also supporting it on its motherboards that will begin shipping during the second half of this year. When Intel begins doing this and with the support from Microsoft, (Sand) expects there to be a huge market for these cores.” Some of the potential markets Sand sees for 1394 use include high-speed printers, portable cameras, cable modems, DVD, TV out, and disk drives for outside the PC, Mr. Chilukuri added.
Both cores are available in Verilog and VHDL formats. The 1394DC utilizes approximately 15,000 gates and supports multi-speed packets, dual phase retry, and a configurable number of isochronous channels. The 1394DC core consists of a link layer and asynchronous and isochronous interfaces that are customizable utilizing Sand’s RapidScript configuration utility. The 1394 CPHY core supports the same functions as the 1394DC but uses only 10,000 gates in a system. Sand said the 1394 cores and the design tool kit are slated for availability next month with prices also available then. The cores are compliant with the IEEE-1394 standard and are targeted for any system from PC notebooks to digital TVs to home automation, Sand claims.
In addition to the CPHY digital soft core that Sand is rolling out today, Mr. Chilukuri revealed Sand is working on an analog portion of the CPHY core that will be available later this year as a hard core. “The analog piece of the 1394 operates up to 400 megabits per second,” he said. “You have to encode this into digital form that can be done in software. However, the analog portion decodes the data and this must be done in hardware. We don’t do hardware yet so we are going to sell the designs to our partners so they can build the hardware device. We are not going after the hard IP category big time right now. We have a while to go before that.”
Some of the customers for the 1394 cores include LSI Logic, National Semiconductor, Opti and Lucent. Sand has gathered more than 60 customers for its entire bus portfolio including Hitachi, Fujitsu, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Dallas Semiconductor, HDRG, Siemens AG, SGS-Thomson and Logitech.