Fully reconfigurable media processor combines Toshiba's MeP architecture with Elixent's D-Fabrix configurable arrays
February 23, 2004 - Toshiba and reconfigurable semiconductor IP specialist, Elixent, have demonstrated a prototype of a low-power, high-performance system-on-chip (SoC) RISC processor that facilitates the complete reconfiguration of multimedia applications in the field. The ET1 configurable media processor brings together Toshiba's open and scalable Media embedded Processor (MeP) architecture and Elixent's patented Reconfigurable Algorithm Processing (RAP) technology for the first time.
The ability to completely reconfigure multimedia applications after production and on through operating life offers a number of advantages ranging from bug fixes and upgrades to the complete modification of application functionality. Using reconfigurable media processors also allows OEMs to use a single configurable IC platform across a range of products, with exact product functionality or regional variations dictated by the specific configuration of the processor.
Based on Toshiba's 32-bit MeP-c2 core, the MeP architecture is designed to reduce the cost, power consumption, die size and development time of SoC implementations that require digital media processing such as video, image processing, audio and networking functionality. Elixent's D-Fabrix RAP technology provides SoC designers with a flexible alternative to fixed function chips but without the power consumption levels typically associated with programmable technologies. By combining MeP with D-Fabrix, Toshiba and Elixent have been able to produce a MeP module that combines the benefits of high performance, low power and low area overheads with full, post-fabrication reconfigurability.
The MeP platform offers a powerful, integrated hardware and software development environment that facilitates customised configurations and extensions of the basic MeP processor core. Using this environment, Elixent has been able to tightly couple a D-Fabrix array with the MeP core using the core's DSP interface. The resulting IC has been fabricated using Toshiba's 0.13µm (micron) process.
The new ET1 IC has been configured as an MP3 reference model that can be used to demonstrate the performance, size, power and configurability benefits of the integrated Toshiba and Elixent technology. However, the device is equally suited to other multimedia algorithms such as MPEG-4 or DTV frame interpolation.
MeP provides an open and configurable/extensible architecture targeted at system on chip (SoC) applications that require digital media processing functionality such as video, image processing, audio and networking functionality.
The MeP architecture defines a hierarchical bus structure that allows the construction of a heterogeneous multiprocessor system in which multiple MeP modules and shared memory are connected to a global memory bus. By using this architecture, designers of SoC multimedia applications can achieve significant reductions in terms of cost, power consumption, die size and development time when compared with the development of more conventional solutions based on a processor and software approach.
The basis for Elixent's technology is the D-Fabrix processing array - a platform that realises the potential of Reconfigurable Algorithm Processing (RAP). The components of the array are 4-bit ALUs, registers, and the 'switchbox', which are incorporated into a 'tile'. Hundreds or thousands of tiles are then combined to create the D-Fabrix array. Special functions are then distributed through the array and algorithms can be implemented in the hardware.
The result is a solution that combines the performance, power and area overhead benefits of hardware with the flexibility of a software configuration.
Toshiba Corporation is a leader in information and communications systems, electronic components, consumer products and power systems. The company's integration of these wide-ranging capabilities assures its position as an innovator in advanced components, products and systems. Toshiba has more than 166,000 employees worldwide and annual sales of over US$47 billion (2002).
Toshiba Electronics Europe (TEE) is the European Headquarters for the electronic components business of Toshiba Corporation, which is the world's third largest semiconductor vendor according to estimates by Dataquest.
Providing design, manufacturing, marketing and sales, TEE was formed in 1973 in Neuss, Germany. The company now has headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany and subsidiaries in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Company president is Mr Toshio Hamaya and the total number of personnel in Europe is around 400.
Toshiba Electronics Europe offers one of the industry's broadest IC and discrete product lines including memory, microcontrollers, ASICs and ASSPs for automotive, multimedia, consumer, telecoms and networking applications. The company also has a wide range of power semiconductor solutions as well as technologically advanced electron tubes and solid-state devices, including cathode ray tubes, liquid crystal displays, rechargeable batteries and optical transmission devices.
For more company information visit Toshiba's web site at www.toshiba-europe.com
Elixent is the leader in reconfigurable semiconductor IP, a technology that provides users with the ability to change the function of a chip even whilst in use. D-Fabrix, the company's patented reconfigurable algorithm processing (RAP) technology, provides ASIC designers with a flexible alternative to fixed function chips but without consuming the level of power normally associated with programmable technologies. This combination is of particular benefit to companies producing electronic products for imaging and communications applications in consumer and industrial markets. The low power consumption makes D-Fabrix particularly attractive for mobile and battery powered products. Visit http://www.elixent.com for more information.