When Arteris sold key network-on-chip intellectual property and most of its human assets to Qualcomm earlier this year, it was big news. We suggested the bigger news after a restaffing effort would be a next-generation NoC release, and a new round of design wins.
Some developments were already in the pipeline. One notable development was the release of details of the Altera implementation of NoCs for partitioning in the Arria 10 SoC. For those that think Xilinx is light years ahead with their UltraScale SoC architecture, I’d encourage you to search their documentation for the term “firewall.” Bottom line: Altera and Xilinx parts are good at different things, and lumping them into the same bucket because they are “FPGAs” does both a major disservice. Altera turned to Arteris and FlexNoC to help them differentiate.
We also saw the beginnings of a new Arteris strategy targeting advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), initially represented by the long-awaited Mobileye EyeQ3 SoC and reinforced with customers including Freescale and Texas Instruments. ADAS and other systems powering connected cars could mean solid growth for years to come, albeit with a very long design-win-to-revenue cycle.
Both of those developments foreshadowed the biggest Arteris product news of 2014: the FlexNoC Resilience Package IP. The transformation of SoCs from generic mobile platforms without much protection to partitioned platforms with end-to-end ECC capability is in progress.
There was also news of the Sckipio G.fast modem, which I wrote about in a CEVA context. As it turns out, the vectoring capability is a combination of fast DSP cores combined with high bandwidth, low latency interconnect provided by Arteris FlexNoC.
Arteris also did a great job with current customers, who could have very easily freaked out and left when the Qualcomm deal went down. According to CEO Charlie Janac, all existing licensees stayed. Several upped commitments, including Freescale for the QorIQ family, and HiSilicon (Huawei) for mobile SoCs. Perhaps the biggest hit will be Spreadtrum, given the Intel deal and overall progress in LTE basebands and the intrigue of the Chinese mobile market.
All that comes before seven new Arteris customers added in 2014:
Marvell has entered the FlexNoC ranks, and this week’s announcement of the ARMADA Mobile PXA1936 in all its octa-core glory shows they mean business in high-end mobile SoCs.
Shanghai InfoTM Microelectronics also licensed FlexNoC to deal with dual-channel memory and relieve routing congestion in their tablets and other consumer electronics.
Hisense is bringing FlexNoC to TVs, citing the ability to quickly integrate diverse hardware and software IP into SoCs.
Rambus is perhaps the most cloaked in secrecy, but again the idea of quickly creating derivative designs while making maximum reuse of hardware and software IP is key to their adoption of FlexNoC.
The other wins were from two undisclosed SSD vendors and a systems OEM. State-of-the-art SSDs feature an advanced multicore SoC that distributes files across multiple flash chips for both improved bandwidth and better endurance through managed writes.
All this is certainly an impressive winning streak for an IP company, and an indicator that network-on-chip is gaining in popularity. Congrats to the team at Arteris for an outstanding year!