Supply Chain Management

Synopsys Buys Application Processor Pioneer

12 February 2014

EDA software and IP vendor Synopsys Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) has bought Target Compiler Technologies NV (Leuven, Belgium) a pioneer of application-specific instruction processors (ASIPs) for an undisclosed amount of money.

Founded in 1996 as a spin-off from the EDA program at the IMEC research institute (Leuven, Belgium) Target has gradually gained support for its automated approach to the creation of hardware, instruction sets and compilers from high-level behavioral descriptions. This allows the creation of application-specific instruction-set processors (ASIPs), which might otherwise be called coprocessors, which can provide more power efficient solutions than the same or similar source code compiled to run on more general-purpose DSP cores.

ASIPs complement industry-standard processor architectures by enabling designers to implement their own highly specialized software programmable engines for compute-intensive digital signal and data plane processing.

With hindsight it can be seen that Target was ahead of the market with its technology in the 1990s. The technology was based on research into language-based synthesis and hinged on the use of a high-level processor description language designated called nML.

The solutions were radical that in the early days of the company. which appeared to struggle to gain commercial traction although Motorola's semiconductor division was an early supporter and helped with the development and early deployment of the Chess/Checkers tools. These consisted of a C compiler called Chess, a linker called Bridge, an instruction-set-simulator called Checkers and an assembler and disassembler called Darts. The key difference between Target's Chess/Checkers and other DSP support tools is that they provided a retargetable environment.

Target has been led since its formation by CEO Gert Goossens and has gradually added designs wins with such companies as: STMicroelectronics, Philips Semiconductors, Atmel. Target opened a U.S. office in 2006.

"As today's SoCs rely more on heterogeneous multicore architectures, designers are turning to ASIPs to implement their unique data plane and digital signal processing requirements," said John Koeter, vice president of marketing of IP and Systems at Synopsys, in statement. Koeter added that Target's IP Designer and MP Designer tools complement Synopsys offerings for ASIP developers.

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