CAMBRIDGE, England -- Cambridge Consultants Ltd. (CCL), a consultancy active in the electronics and healthcare sectors, is now offering for license some of the hardware intellectual property cores it has developed over the last fifteen years.
Companies spun-out from Cambridge Consultants include Cambridge Silicon Radio, Alphamosaic and Cyan Technology, and the CCLasic library includes several cores used by these companies in their products.
The library includes the low gate count XAP 16-bit microcontroller and the XAP2 version used within CSR's single-chip Bluetooth architecture. It also includes interoperable radio blocks in CMOS for 433-MHz, 900-MHz and 930-MHz operation, and in general the library is optimized for low-cost and low power consumption, CCL said. There is also a 'lean' DSP called the APE.
Typical application markets for the library would include industrial instrumentation, toys and consumer goods, the company said. However, n o details were given of the licensing terms.
The XAP2 microcontroller is provided in the form of process-portable Verilog at the register transfer level (RTL). The processor synthesizes to around 12,000 gates. This supports, for example, physical implementations in less than a square millimeter of silicon using a 0.35-micron CMOS process technology, equivalent to a cost of about $0.10, the company said.
And going beyond the microcontroller's low gate count the design has further optimisations favoring battery-powered operation, the company claimed. The XAP2's quiescent current level allows 10-year battery lifetimes from a single button cell, according to the consultancy.
The modularity of the radio cores allows application-specific radios to be configured with characteristics such as the type of data modulation and the baseband signal processing determined using digital signal processing. This approach allows changes to be made by means of firmware updates, throughout the development cycle, or i n the field.
Complete software-defined radios including ROM, RAM and DSP elements may be implemented in silicon areas as small as 5 square millimetres, equivalent to a volume fabrication cost of about $0.50 using a 0.18-micron CMOS process technology, the company claimed.
A description of the CCLasic library was located here when this story was first posted.
The library contains several peripheral and support circuits, including data converter functions. In total, there are over 20 building blocks and CCL has plans to develop additional cores in the area of Zigbee home wireless networking and sensors and sensor arrays.
"There's a tidal wave of products waiting to exploit the technology, as soon as silicon costs reach a new threshold, which we believe is sub-two dollars - and in some segments a dollar or less," said Nick Horne, a consultant with Cambridge Consultants, in a statement.
"Current mainstream RF standards don't offer a cost-effective option. Proprietary RF system-on-chip implementations - optimized for the application - offer a viable route to success in the medium term. This is a key focus of the new IP library, which we anticipate will catalyze a step-function advance in product capabilities", continued Horne.