Realizing the hardware and software for a new Wi-Fi™ technology, like 802.11ah, long before the final release of the standard, requires world class EDA tools and innovative system-level design approaches, says Marleen Boonen, CEO and Founder of Methods2Business. IPs of this complexity can no longer be developed by writing paper specifications and manually developing RTL and firmware code. This is not only very labor intensive and time consuming but it is also error prone and blocks an efficient partitioning and early validation of hardware and software.
The solution is to move-up in abstraction and to take away the barriers between hardware and software which requires a modern design approach starting with a single executable specification of hardware and software and supporting an automated refinement and verification process towards final implementation.
Thanks to an innovative usage of SystemC in combination with Cadence world class EDA tools for high level synthesis, virtual prototyping and metric-driven formal and simulation-based verification, Methods2Business today is on the leading edge of IP solutions provided to the market. The approach provides not only high quality products that can reach the market quickly but also standards-based products that are easy to customize. The latter is important when dealing with late changes in the specification or changes needed for Wi-Fi certification. It also offers Methods2Business customers the ability to differentiate their end products.
Unified SystemC-Based design methodology enabled by Cadence world-class EDA tools
The company directly collaborates with the R&D and marketing teams inside Cadence and developed a unique, unified SystemC-based design flow on top of Cadence world-class EDA tools. The flow enables executable specifications of complex hardware/software IPs in SystemC and supports an automated refinement and verification process towards the final implementation. The result is a complete software stack for a target processor and an optimized RTL design generated from a single Unified SystemC hardware model for high-level synthesis (Cadence HLS solution), virtual prototyping (Cadence Virtual System Platform) and advanced functional verification using UVM-ML testbenches and formal ABV solutions (Cadence Incisive products). With this approach, Methods2Business takes a leading position in SystemC-based design which gives the company a competitive advantage as IP provider.
The company developed a scalable Wi-Fi HaLow 802.11ah platform based on the Cadence XTensa® Fusion F1 DSP. As illustrated on the above picture, the XTensa® Xplorer tools are integrated into the design flow to offload compute intensive and power hungry software functions to dedicated TIE instructions on the Tensilica Fusion DSP. The Xtensa® Xplorer environment is also used for debugging software on the FPGA.