ASIC EDA (Page 12)


If you have made an electronic product with a new circuit or code and need to protect it, then these are some Methods. If your Intellectual Property is an Idea, A Hardware Innovation or Software Application; It may need some protection other than patents. Sometimes patents are used for general applications and generic designs. Patent only an Original Idea or Innovation or an Exclusive and Unique Method.

Protect your Design or IPIf you are small and the innovation very big, tie up with established companies with reputed brands. If you are a source for a certain product component or module, make certain restriction on patenting products made from it. Else, your Module or Application Sales may be jammed by Panic Patents.

That is the reason, the Platform that fosters innovation is Open Source.

1. Security Bit –

Use for digital logic area, an atmel uC with security bit protection or any uC-uP with internal memory read protected with security bit. the firmware should be kept in tight control from both external people and your employees and must be on a non-networked and non-internet machine.

2. Hermetically seal –

This is a crude and ancient way, delete the chip part numbers and pot it in a plastic can with ciba araldite epoxy with alumina filler, this way product may not be copied and it will be immune to vibration and corrosive environment. but heat dissipation and serviceability is affected, so make a epoxy potted module of only some part of the circuit.

3. Make ASIC or FPGA –

ASIC is only for volume production and is copy protected, if you design in-house and the chip maker you order is trustworthy, then this is ok, for small volume production use FPGA, CPLD, DSP uC or uP with read protection as practical.

4. Go open source – Design a circuit and put it on the internet to share, let the community use it and improve it, here also revenue is made by service of product, custom design and customer support and this will work long term free of tensions. This way has proved to foster greater innovation and stable technologies.

(my dairy log 2002, Amps-n-Volts June 2005, Now logged here – delabs)

An Embedded Microcontroller or DSP system is made of Chips, Circuits and Firmware. The digital voltage levels, speed, bus width, fan out, power consumption are some factors that a designer has to keep in mind. As portable and wireless gadgets are becoming more popular, RF, Ethernet and Energy Efficient Design aspects should be studied. Power electronics and Analog Circuits knowledge is used around the system, all this is integrated to make an instrument, equipment or gadget.

  • 80C51 ports can sink more current but source very less, hence use a 10k pull up at all the ports or outputs.
  • Firmware must be developed in increments, tested in increments, backed up in increments, must be modular (include) reuse.
  • Tristate output, High Impedance and Floating all mean the same when it comes to IC Inputs-Outputs. It means the pin is insulated from rest of circuit in the IC. That means it will not influence the node or bus it is connected to. A DMM terminals are floating means that the hand held plastic DMM has no electrical conductive link to earth or ground.
  • You can use hyper terminal to upload code to single board computers 80C51 like in BINARY or ASCII. Hyper Terminal, .
  • ASICs are for large volume production, or for products which have a long product life cycle.
  • Low volume production use FPGA or CPLD, or even flash based microcontrollers, so that all your inventory can be reused and recycled.
  • Cell phones or a LAN card ASIC is ideal as volumes are good in cell phones and for LAN cards the technology is matured. For either FPGA or ASIC’s you get IP Modules or Code Libraries for many functions and applications.
  • Whatever the method keep design flexible and modular for reuse and to save cost. remember the hardware is difficult to alter, software can be altered even at customer site, flash has made this possible
  • In the future chips may be both analog and digital programmable with flash.
  • Some FPGA, CPLD, ASIC links, WinCUPL, Design and Reuse, fpga4fun.
  • Unused CMOS inputs should have a pull up or pull down resistor, it should not float, or it oscillates.
  • Have a decoupling capacitor 104 that is 0.1uF or 100nF across the supply of every IC very near the IC supply pins.
  • A watchdog timer should be used in every microcomputer circuit like 8051 so that the system resets on hanging.
  • The reset on a microcomputer should be applied till the supply to it is stabilized, this will enable a clean start.
  • Analog ground (opamps), digital ground (CMOS) and power ground (relays and LED) should be separate, (linked at root)
  • Pull up or pull down resistors in TTL can be 10K and in CMOS 100K and in battery operated systems 1M.
  • CMOS gates and Opamps have a output drive capability of ~ 10-20mA, so when you drive a load say an LED use a series resistor to limit the current to 5mA to 10mA.
  • When the number of digital chips you use in a project goes above 20 or 30 then it is better to use PLD or CPLD types from Altera, Xilinx or Lattice etc.
  • Try to use same family ICs in a circuit, like only LS or only HCT, if you mix up then you have to do a design review.
  • In a industrial environment many motors, DC drives and AC drives will be running, this will produce EMI, RFI, kickback spikes which cause microcontroller based equipment to hang. Use a watchdog timer for uC.
  • More EMI immunity by using opto couplers for all input and outputs, 4-20mA current signals for input and output and an isolated wide range SMPS.

When a product has to be made small, the board real estate is limited or it has to be manufactured in large numbers…. SoC is the Answer. A Microprocessor evolved into a Microcontroller by packing many external chips into one chip. Now uC Card along with the other blocks like A-D, Port Drivers, Networking elements, Display Driver and other peripherals can be packed into one chip.

Some Power Supply and RF blocks cannot be easily added inside as they have a silicon processing more specific to their applications. Laser trimmed Instrumentation Op-Amps, high accuracy resistor arrays, high value capacitors, magnetics and supporting chips are placed outside on the PCB.

The SOC can pack Digital Chips, Memory, A/D, D/A converters, uC, RAM and Custom programmable areas. For more specialized communications, analog and power requirements; Special SoC types can tackle RF and Power management within a chip because of proprietary silicon processing expertise.

System on a chip – Wiki

“A system on a chip or system on chip (SoC or SOC) is an integrated circuit (IC) that integrates all components of a computer or other electronic system into a single chip. It may contain digital, analog, mixed-signal, and often radio-frequency functions-all on a single chip substrate. A typical application is in the area of embedded systems.”
System-on-Chip - SoC - IP

Programmable SoC offers an alternative to custom ASIC as you can make different products from the same chip, yet make products that are portable and low power. The software, pcb, user interface and support components has to be redesigned for every unique product. Many standard IPs are available for Design and Reuse.

Some of the early Philips (nxp) 8031 variations had integrated a lot of outer chips like A/D, D/A display driver etc. This made Programmable Industrial Instruments/Gadgets possible with just a few external components. Now many variations are available from chip manufacturers, with more speed, memory and peripherals inside. Futuristic gadgets may be intelligent, interactive, networked and portable. The SoC chip makes it all possible, by integrating all product functions within it except the user interface.

SoC with a Color LCD driver, Wi-Fi, USB, RAM and Flash capabilities….at last you have a Computer in a Chip. Better still Web-Chip.

Stratix IV FPGAs: Think AND, not OR

With 40 nm Stratix IV FPGAs you can reach new levels of system-on-a-chip (SoC) integration. Building on the advanced, proven Stratix III architecture, Stratix IV FPGAs deliver a high-density, feature-rich and high-performance core fabric. Combined with flexible I/Os, high-bandwidth transceivers, and memory interfaces,

Atmel AT91RM9200 is ARM920T-based

It has 16K-byte instruction and 16K-byte data cache memories, 16K bytes SRAM, 128K bytes ROM, External Bus Interface incl. SDRAM, Burst Flash and Static Memory Controllers, USB Device and Host Interfaces, Ethernet 10/100 BaseT MAC, Power Management Controller and much more…

More Reading

When you are trying to arrive at a complex Embedded Systems and Communications solution, You will think of a DSP. Now that computers and embedded devices are used in most electronic devices, DSP is a way you can process, transform, analyze and generate fast analog data, in Real Time.

Real Time ideally is instantaneous or in sync, in tandem. Not an Zepto Second lost. But in the real world many analog inputs or result outputs can be processed a lot slower. So it is more like, How ‘real time’ you want, how cost-effective a real-time solution can be provided. If the analog input is slow and the system inertia is high and the user response time is limited by his persistence of vision, you need to make a system just a bit faster, even Microseconds delay may be fine. In yet another case it may be pico seconds.

Modulated Waveform

A web page in a browser delays a few milliseconds, you will not notice; but when you talk over the phone a small delay, echo or glitch can be unpleasant.

In a weather station the wind speed, atmospheric pressure and relative humidity are measured as analog signals using special sensors. This is then converted to digital data and fed to an embedded system or computer. The computer software analyzes the data and arrives at some predictions based on past patterns. This system in its simplest form, may not be DSP, but it is the beginning of this science, the first step.

Audio, Video, Image Processing, Speech Processing, Biometrics, etc. All these can use DSP to Produce an Output or generate a Result in a more repeatable and controllable manner than analog.

Real world signals or inputs are analog, Like the RGB color gradients in a Image or Video, the Harmonics in a Sound and The Noise in a Radar Signal. When these signals are processed in the conventional manner, many stages of semiconductors and Passive RLC blocks are needed and fine tuning them is delicate. Aging (magnetics-electrolytics), Vibration, Temperature, Humidity may alter the tuned parameters. Manufacturing and testing them is also tedious.

In a DSP solution we first convert the analog signals into digital streams. It could be multiple analog sources. Audio may need a slow A/D Conversion, Processing TV signals have to be faster.

An Analog to Digital convertor for an Image Processor in an Object Recognition System may be slow, but the data may has to be processed quickly and results of match or mismatch generated fast. If this system has to work with say coffee beans on a fast moving conveyor…. Check if they have been roasted well or not, even pop off beans that may affect the flavor of that batch, Then both scan and result has to be very fast.

If a Supersonic plane has to watch, prepare and react for all objects flying close by, the Real Time response of the system puts the design and technology to test. Even the software has to be lean and ultra fast, to react before it is too late.

Digital Signal Processing – MIT OpenCourseWare

Digital Signal Processing begins with a discussion of the analysis and representation of discrete-time signal systems, including discrete-time convolution, difference equations, the z-transform, and the discrete-time Fourier transform. Emphasis is placed on the similarities and distinctions between discrete-time. The course proceeds to cover digital network and nonrecursive (finite impulse response) digital filters. Digital Signal Processing concludes with digital filter design and a discussion of the fast Fourier transform algorithm for computation of the discrete Fourier transform.

Digital Signal Processing Overview
Digital Signal Processing Overview

A digital signal processing system takes a continuous sound wave as input, feeds it through an analog low-pass filter (an anti-aliassing filter) to remove all frequencies above half the sampling rate (see Nyquist’s sampling theorem).

Digital Signal Processing Control Lab: DSP-59000

Dual processors (TMS-320C5416 & TMS-320LF2407); Built-in audio/video, MP3, Ethernet, Keypad, RS-232/RS-485, temperature control, function generator, PWM , experiment modules.

Anantha Narayan

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Dedicated to the support, open exchange and dissemination of in-development standards from EDA Industry Working Groups. The Electronic Design Automation (EDA) and Electronic Computer-Aided Design (ECAD) one-stop resource on the WWW!

Beige Bag Software User Resources

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