How IP brings technological innovation to life

How IP brings technological innovation to life

From Altair, the first personal computer developed in 1974, to the ultra-modern cars, smartphones, and data centres of today – semiconductors have played a key role in powering high-performance devices and enabling technical progress. With technology itself being ubiquitous across industries, companies are pressed to differentiate through innovative approaches to product design.

The wider trend across business giants, such as Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, is to integrate a variety of processors into custom systems-on-chip (SoCs). This allows for a tailored approach to chip design, where benefits such as increased power efficiency and performance can ensure a product’s success in a highly competitive market.

However, getting the right mix of SoC hardware and software can be tricky, putting a strain on R&D costs and times. This is why an IP-first approach can be an excellent solution to navigating these challenges.

Granular control over design

When it comes to innovative design, Apple’s M1 series chips are leading the revolution for custom SoCs. Its highly-optimised design delivers clear benefits with significant gains in terms of performance and battery life.

With the rapidly evolving semiconductor market, businesses are changing their approach to IP to enable a wider offering to match a range of computing needs – with companies such as Imagination offering CPU, GPU, AI and Ethernet IP cores for a complete approach to SoC design.

Among the many benefits of an IP-first approach is that OEMs can use proven designs to generate fast-to-market, low-risk solutions. This is significant for both fast tech markets such as consumer goods (DTV, mobile, desktop), but also for industries such as automotive – where it takes more time for a vehicle to reach the market, due to stringent testing requirements. In the latter instance,manufacturers are looking to integrate trusted, functionally safe solutions in their cars.

This heterogeneous approach to design also means that SoCs can become more efficient by matching specific processors with specific compute requirements. In practice, this means that elements such as GPUs can tackle graphics processing and also leverage parallel compute capabilities to process imaging sensors input from electric vehicles, working efficiently with neural networks and significantly reducing battery consumption.

The right tools for the job

With more than 25 years of experience in providing IP solutions for mobile, automotive, consumer and data centre markets, Imagination has a keen understanding of what it takes to create truly diversified ecosystems and drive innovation across market sectors. When it comes to mobile and automotive markets specifically, Imagination GPU IP is widely adopted, holding 38 percent and 51 percent market share respectively.

“As custom silicon becomes a popular choice for SoC designs and as technology becomes increasingly mobile, balancing power efficiency with performance will be fundamental in getting a competitive edge”

Continuing a strong GPU innovation momentum, the recently announced IMG CXT represents the first Level 4 RTLS ray tracing solution of its kind. The Photon architecture enables it to perform complex ray tracing processes, such as coherency gathering in hardware – leading to ground-breakingefficiency and performance.

By combining this with other IP such as the Catapult RISC-V CPUs and PowerVR NNA, manufacturers can leverage a full spectrum of solutions for applications from ADAS/AV compute to graphics processing for the mobile and data centre markets.

As custom silicon becomes a popular choice for SoC designs and as technology becomes increasingly mobile, balancing power efficiency with performance will be fundamental in getting a competitive edge. IP is a unique solution that provides a deeper layer of chip customisation, able to meet rapidly evolving market needs.

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