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  • Carbon CEO on Advanceed ARM based SoC Design!

    Free state machine software - any good?-rick-lucier-jpgCarbon Design drives a lot of traffic to SemiWiki. Actually, it's ARM driving traffic to the Carbon landing page since Carbon and ARM work closely together. When we blog about designing with ARM IP droves of people click over. Seriously, DROVES of people. Rick Lucier has deep EDA experience and has led Carbon as CEO for the past seven years so you are going to want to read this one:

    Q: What are the specific design challenges your customers are facing?

    Carbon’s 50+ customers are primarily concerned with accelerating the development of advanced SoCs containing ARM processors. As part of this we see them facing the following challenges:

    1. SoC Performance Optimization. Choosing the right IP and proper configuration is a difficult task given the complexity of today’s processor, fabric and memory controllers. It’s a challenge to balance the performance demands while meeting the power budget. This task used to be driven with spreadsheets and back of the envelope calculations. Now however, there is a need to accurately model the critical components in order to validation assumption and meet the market requirements, budget and time constraints.
    2. Early debug and development of firmware. Being able to debug and develop “hardware aware software” well ahead of silicon yields a much shorter design cycle. Software is the long pole in the tent for design schedules and it is critical for customers to have access to a solution that provides both accuracy and performance. Solutions such as emulation and other hardware prototypes are too costly and difficult to deploy across the growing number of developers and this creates a bottleneck for design teams.
    3. Provide a solution to allow tighter design collaboration within our customers’ eco system. Design times continue to shrink while the complexity of products continues to grow. Part of that complexity is a larger eco system contributing to the end product. In order to meet the time constraints, more people need to have access to the system before silicon to ensure that it meets market requirements, proper integration of 3rd party subsystems and the complete software stack is optimized.

    As with all EDA vendors the goal is to identify current and future bottlenecks and provide a solution to remove them thus shortening the design cycle.

    Q: What does your company do?

    Carbon provides customers the ability to quickly assemble virtual prototypes that remove the traditional tradeoff between accuracy and performance. This saves months off the SoC design cycle and ensures that software will run on silicon the first day it shows up in the lab.

    Q: Why did you join your company?

    I have spent over 25 years in EDA before joining Carbon and have witnessed the challenges EDA companies have had in addressing the software bottleneck facing design teams. Carbon had an interesting approach in solving that problem which was very attractive – not a pure EDA company, but not a pure IP company. This approach continues to mature and with the combination of our tools, partners and business model will make virtual prototyping the norm and augment traditional hardware assisted simulation solutions in addressing the software bottleneck. I believe this approach will have a significant impact on EDA.

    Q: How does your company help with your customers’ design challenges?
    Our customers use our products to meet the following design challenges:

    1. Remove the model barrier. Model availability has always been a barrier virtual prototype adoption. Carbon’s IP Exchange is a web portal ( that removes this barrier by enabling customers to easily configure IP from various IP vendors such as ARM, Arteris, Cadence etc… The portal then automatically generates 100% accurate models. Over 5000 models have been generated by our customers using this portal. For internal IP or design blocks not available from Carbon IP Exchange, we offer the industry’s leading virtual model compiler capable of generating a 100% accurate model from any Verilog or VHDL design.
    2. Accelerate the creation of virtual platforms. Models are great to enable virtual prototype adoption but assembling these blocks together with necessary bare metal and OS level software in order to use them can present a time consuming challenge. To meet this challenge and get designers up and running quickly, Carbon has assembled over 80 Performance Analysis Kits (CPAKs) which consist of a variety of leading based processors, memory controllers and interconnect fabric with the ability to run various operating systems and benchmarks. This provides an excellent starting point to build a custom virtual prototype trimming weeks and months off the traditional “start from scratch” approach. These CPAKS can also be downloaded from Carbon IP Exchange.
    3. Deliver a unified virtual platform that can be leverage across disciplines from architectural analysis to software development. Carbon’s SoC Designer Plus is a unique virtual prototype solution. It is the only tool which enables the same virtual prototype to be used for architectural exploration, firmware development and OS level software debug.. This is enabled by our unique Swap & Play technology. A design in SoCDesigner Plus can boot an OS in seconds using an abstract representation of the system and then switch to a 100% accurate representation at any breakpoint to enable detailed debug and analysis. With Carbon’s there is always a path to accuracy to ensure that the software will run on first silicon. Our pure software solution (no hardware assisted solutions) allows the prototype to be easily exchanged within our customer’s ecosystem and is a financially attractive alternative to traditional hardware assisted solutions.

    Q: What are the tool flows your customers are using?

    For architectural analysis the old traditional spreadsheet approach is thing of the past given today’s complexity. To address this need there is a mix of internal tools and commercially available tools such as Carbon. For customer’s that require precision (100% accuracy) Carbon is the solution of choice. For firmware development often times FPGA prototypes and emulation are used but we see a strong movement towards virtual prototypes since the platform can be delivered earlier and to a larger audience in a cost effective manner. The requirement is to have accuracy and performance which is unique to Carbon’s solution.

    Q: What will are you focusing on at the Design Automation Conference this year?

    At this year’s DAC we will be focusing on our solutions around the new ARM A57 processor.

    Q: Where can SemiWiki readers get more information?

    More information on Carbon’s solutions can be found at, and by subscribing to our blog at

    Carbon Design Systems offers the industry's only unified virtual prototype solution along with the leading solution for accurate IP model creation. Carbon virtual prototypes can execute at hundreds of MIPS and with 100% accuracy to enable application software development, detailed architectural analysis and secure IP model distribution. Carbon's customers are systems, semiconductor, and IP companies that focus on wireless, networking, and consumer electronics. Carbon investors include Samsung Venture Investment Corporation and ARM Holdings. Carbon is headquartered at 125 Nagog Park, Acton, Mass., 01720. Telephone: (978) 264-7300. Facsimile: (978) 264-9990. Email: Website:

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