By Bill Saperstein, AMI SemiconductorJul 05, 2006 (1:27 PM), PlanetAnalog
A system-on-chip is a highly integrated, single-chip design using third-party and internal intellectual property. The IP can be either a behavioral or physical description of standard components, and the SoC can contain analog, digital or mixed-signal circuits.
One of the key applications for SoC design is for embedded microprocessor-based systems. These ICs are used in applications found in almost every market, including the communication, consumer, EDP, and automotive markets. In such applications, commonly found IP includes microprocessor cores, UART's, MPEG decoders, DSPs, memory controllers, standardized bus controllers and interfaces, Ethernet MACs, and interfaces.
The "reusable" IP is often in the form of a soft macro that can be synthesized to the target silicon technology, such as standard cell, FPGA or structured ASIC. In addition, it can already be targeted to a specific silicon technology and process, and be in the form of a hard macro that can be integrated directly into the physical design. These hard macros often take advantage of the specific qualities of the target technology, including analog circuitry or timing-critical designs. Vital to the design of SoC chips is the availability of this reusable IP, which has been previously proven and characterized in silicon and lends itself to easy integration at the chip level.
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