Ran Avinun, Cadence Design Systems
EETimes (12/14/2010 8:07 PM EST)
A new breed of mobile smartphone platforms and sophisticated embedded consumer devices is now emerging requiring applications software and extensions that go far beyond just enabling user-level software customization.
The delivered “system” is no longer tied to any single or particular set of applications, but rather makes use of system software /hardware combinations that can adapt and evolve dynamically along with the needs of the user.
Enabling this new generation of electronic systems now requires system and system-on-chip (SoC) vendors to deliver complete software stacks along with their products (i.e., firmware, diagnostics, drivers, real-time operating system (RTOS), and middleware). Whereas in the past the system company was viewed as the “customer” by the semiconductor company, in this new world, both companies will behave more like channel partners, collaborating to deliver “application-ready” platforms/systems to the end user.
In this new paradigm, the next generation of SoC becomes much more sophisticated. Some in the industry have coined new terms, such as “solution SoC” (SSoC) or software on chip (SOoC), to highlight the fact that such products are trying to do more than support just one or a few “converging” applications (e.g., voice + music + video).
To give a consumer market example, the SSoC is focused on addressing the end user’s lifestyle, i.e., providing a universal platform on which any number or variety of software applications can operate. These trends began to emerge nearly 10 years ago with the Texas Instruments OMAP platform and NXP (Nexperia), and they accelerated with the arrival of the iPhone, Android, and other platforms.
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