A UK electronics startup, with roots at Brunel University, is this week launching its new high level design language (HDL) aimed at revolutionising system on chip design.
Co-Design Automation, which has offices in Silicon Valley and Thame in the UK, claimed the Superlog HDL will make the process of chip design simpler and quicker than predecessors.
Its founders Peter Flake and Simon Davidmann both began their careers under Professor Gerry Musgrave at Brunel University, Uxbridge and worked on the Hilo simulator, the first commercial HDL based simulation system.
They formed the company in 1997 to develop the Superlog language, which is based on VDHL and Verilog, two other high level design languages.
The need for a new design language arises because chips now contain so much code that designers are often unable to write enough code in the time frame required, said David Kelf, vice president of marketing at Co-Design Automation.
As well as speeding up and simplifying the design process, Superlog will also enable designers to bring together new aspects of design which older languages cannot do.
For instance, with system on a chip design - where chips contain a microprocessor and software - there is a need to test the software running on the hardware before the chip is actually made.
"This is called unification of the design process, providing one language to do all these things," he said.
Co-Design is also trying to build in an evolutionary path to the language, so that it's backwards compatible, allowing design models in the old language to be run in the new one. This is a complex matter, said Kelf.
Some industry observers doubt that engineers will adopt a new language when they already use software programming languages like C, C++ and Java. Kelf acknowledges there are alternative approaches but believes Superlog will bring a familiar feel to designers who have used Verilog and VHDL.
The company plans to announce Superlog based CAD software tools for systems on chip designs in the first quarter of next year. Superlog will be available free to third parties in order to encourage widespread use.
Co-Design has been funded by private investors and the company is now in the throes of securing a second round of finance, again from the private sector.
Initial investors include Andy Bechtolsheim, a cofounder of Sun Microsystems and now vice president of the gigabit switching group at Cisco Systems; Venk Shukla, a vice president of Ambit Design Systems and now chief executive officer of Webbyphone; and Rajeev Madhavan, founder of Ambit and now chief executive officer of Magma Design Automation.
"Davidmann was responsible for seeking funding. As well as wanting capital he was also looking for investors who could bring industry and business insight with them, which is why he went for private funding," explained Kelf.
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