Synfora Launches Solution To Cut Down Chip Design Costs

Bangalore | Updated: Mar 26 2004, 05:30am hrs
Synfora Inc, a Palo Alto-based start-up on Thursday announced the launch of its product Pico Express in India. Pico, which addresses the concept of system on chip (SoC) design, automatically translates the first phase of hardware design - the software in C code - to a silicon smart algorithm, thereby cutting down design as well as verification costs.

Traditionally, an RTL (register transfer level) is generated for implementation into hardware from the C code manually, a process which could take years and run into millions of dollars, said Mr Simon Napper, CEO, Synfora. Picos algorithm-to-tapeout synthesis, could help cut down design costs as well as verification costs, which form upto 70 per cent of the process, he said. In the manual system, engineers needed to verify whether the RTL faithfully reflected the C code, a time and labour consuming activity, which Pico does automatically.

With a huge demand for low cost and complex SoCs, which go into MP3 players, home theatres, cell phones, PDAs, to name a few, this method could offer companies a competitive edge, Mr Napper said. However, it could take around five years for the technology to become mainstream, mainly because of peoples inherent resistance to change, he said.

The C code itself would have to be Pico ready to be able to use Pico Express. Synfora is in talks with chip manufacturers and designers of complex SoCs in the US and India to sell the product, said the company founder and chief technology officer Vinod Kathail.

For countries such as India, the new technology could offer a route to keep their advantage, said Mr Napper. A threat to India is inbuilt in Pico itself, in that a lower cost of designing may bring down the pressure on companies to outsource, he pointed out.

On the plus side, there is also a huge opportunity to provide high value solutions and going beyond the software design to provide the RTL too, he said.

Pico comes out of a licensing arrangement with HP Labs, which worked on the technology for over 50 man years and gave it to Synfora for product development.