Stretch Inc. Introduces a Software-Configurable Processor, First Processor to Embed Programmable Logic Within the Processor; Developers Automatically Configure the Processor Using Only C/C++
The Stretch S5000 Family of Processors Delivers Unprecedented Performance, Flexibility, and Ease-of-Use to the Toughest Compute-Intensive Applications MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., April 26, 2004
Stretch Inc., a fabless semiconductor company, today announced the S5000 family of software-configurable processors-the first to embed powerful programmable logic within an off-the-shelf processor-and a comprehensive suite of development tools that enable developers to automatically configure and optimize the processor using only their C/C++ code. Stretch's software-configurable processors can be tailored quickly and easily to address compute-intensive applications in markets as diverse as consumer, telecommunications, networking, medical and military.
Stretch's S5000 software-configurable processors combine the best of two previously divergent semiconductor worlds-the ease of software development associated with GPPs (general-purpose processors) and DSPs, with the parallelism and flexibility of FPGAs. Stretch achieves this by embedding programmable logic entirely inside the processor architecture-an industry first.
Every S5000 processor chip is powered by the Stretch(tm) S5 engine, which incorporates the widely accepted Tensilica® Xtensa® RISC processor core and the powerful Stretch Instruction Set Extension Fabric (ISEF). The ISEF is a software-configurable data-path based on proprietary programmable logic. Using the ISEF, system designers extend the processor instruction set and define the new instructions using only their C/C++ code. As a result, developers get the performance of logic with C/C++ development simplicity-achieving unprecedented performance, easy and rapid development and significant cost savings.
The Need for a New Kind of Processor
Today, embedded system developers are forced to make painful compromises when addressing compute-intensive applications. Their choices include using banks of DSPs or GPPs, resulting in costly and difficult-to-program multiprocessor systems; selecting fixed-function chips, which do not allow them to address changing standards or differentiate their products; or mixing processors and FPGAs or ASICs, which requires the design of custom hardware, greatly increasing time-to-market and development costs.
"With the introduction of the Stretch S5000 family of software-configurable processors, embedded system developers no longer need to trade-off performance, time-to-market and system costs," said Gary Banta, Stretch CEO. "Developers program and automatically configure our processors using pure C/C++, achieving unprecedented performance, easy and rapid development, tremendous cost savings, and the flexibility to address diverse markets and changing application needs."
Stretch: First Company to Embed Programmable Logic within a Processor
By embedding powerful programmable logic within a processor, Stretch has uniquely combined the best qualities of GPPs, DSPs, ASPs (application-specific processors), FPGAs and ASICs-creating an off-the-shelf processor chip that can cost-effectively address virtually any compute-intensive application. With Stretch's new processors, embedded system designers can bypass painful trade-offs between flexibility, performance, cost and time-to-market.
Stretch's software-configurable processors and software development tools provide significant breakthroughs and advantages:
- Flexibility: For the first time, developers use C/C++ not only to program the processor but also to create new instructions ideally matched to their applications' needs.
- Stretch's S5000 family of chips can be quickly tailored by the system developer to address multiple markets and diverse applications.
- Developers can respond to emerging standards, add new features and support new algorithms-without starting their designs over from scratch.
- Developers are able to "future-proof" their systems, building in support for field upgrades to adjust to new standards, extend the life of their products, and achieve greater product differentiation.
- Performance: Conventional wisdom is that clock rate determines processor performanceand that higher performance at the same clock rate requires complex fixed-instruction-set architectures (e.g., VLIW, SIMD) that are difficult to program and are effective only in certain applications. Stretch's S5000 family breaks new ground with configurable instructions that reduce program "hot spots" (sequences of operations that must be repeated many times) into single instructions.
On conventional processors such as DSPs, optimization of hot spots is usually done by a programmer using low-level assembly code, which directly represents the sequence of processor operations one by one. Compilers automate this task, but only with a significant loss in performance. Further, because each operation is very simple, tens to hundreds of assembly instructions are needed to implement each hot spot.
On a Stretch S5000 processor, an entire hot spot-expressed only in C/C++-is reduced to a single instruction. First, the software developer identifies hot spots using Stretch's profiling tool. Then the C/C++ source code from the hot spot is automatically compiled into an ISEF configuration, creating a single custom instruction that implements the entire hot spot. Not only is this process easy, but the performance gain can be huge: tasks that require tens to hundreds of instructions on conventional processors becomes just one instruction on the Stretch S5000.
- Working with system designers in fields as diverse as medical imaging, wireless infrastructure and video conferencing, Stretch has consistently shown that the Stretch S5000 processors far exceed the performance of today's GPPs, DSPs, ASPs and FPGAs. As a result, a single Stretch S5000 processor can typically replace a bank of DSPs or GPPs, or a processor combined with one or more expensive FPGAs. And due to its configurability, the Stretch S5000 can achieve this performance on an extraordinarily wide range of applications-including applications in which conventional processors do not perform well due to use of unusual data types or operations.
- Even in applications that represent the "home turf" of conventional processors, Stretch has demonstrated huge performance advantages. With an EEMBC(r) Telemark(tm) score of 877, the S5000 beats the most powerful DSP-enhanced GPPs and DSPs on their home turf, as verified independently by the EEMBC Certification Labs.
- Improved Time-to-Market
- Stretch's "home-field" is the replacement of banks of processors, or processors plus FPGAs, with one S5000 processor and a simple C-compiler design flow. Extraordinary performance is achieved without need for a complex and time-consuming multi-chip, software and hardware development process. Stretch's processor-based development model ensures that the embedded system development remains entirely in C/C++-slashing months from the development time.
- Reduced Development and System Cost
- Software-only development eliminates the high costs and problems associated with hardware/software co-development, the cost of two development teams, difficulty making bug fixes, inability to adjust to new standards and the very long development cycle.
- Replacing multiple DSPs or combinations of processors and FPGAs saves chip costs, board space and development costs.
Product Specifications, Pricing and Availability
Stretch's off-the-shelf S5000 software-configurable processor family debuts with three members, all based on the S5 engine. The products differ only in their I/O and packaging, allowing the products to even more precisely match the needs of specific markets.
|Processor ||S5400 ||S5500 ||S5610 |
|MARKETS ||Consumer |
|Medical Instrument |
|HIGH SPEED ||2 FIFO |
|4 FIFO |
|4 FIFO |
|SYSTEM ||- ||PCI-32 ||PCI-X |
|MEMORY ||DDR-333 |
64b w/ ECC
|LOW SPEED ||SIO/TDM |
|$ / AVAILABILITY ||$35 (25k) |
|$70 (10k) |
|$100 (10k) |
Stretch's solution also includes a complete suite of development tools, run-time support and comprehensive documentation. An intuitive graphical Integrated Development Environment ($900 single-user license) includes the Stretch C Compiler, instruction-set simulator, profiler and debugger enabling developers to port, profile, accelerate, and optimize applications quickly. Run-time support includes a StretchBIOS toolkit of run-time code and MontaVista Linux for embedded real-time Linux systems.
Stretch Inc. is delivering a new kind of software-configurable processor, the first to embed programmable logic within the processor. Using only familiar C/C++ programming tools, system developers automatically configure Stretch's off-the-shelf processors to meet the needs of their toughest compute-intensive applications, achieving extraordinary performance, easy and rapid development, significant cost savings, and flexibility to address diverse markets and changing application needs. Founded in March 2002, Stretch has its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., and has been funded through investments from top-tier venture capitalists Worldview Technology Partners, Oak Investment Partners and Menlo Ventures. For more information, please visit www.stretchinc.com.
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