Monday, August 03, 2009
Idea #31 Web-based Hardware Design From C To Silicon
Hardware design should not be a black art any more, no need to master Verilog or VHDL. Design flow and tools have matured enough that, unless you are doing cutting-edge micro-processors or wireless chips inside the iPhone, you can get your chip design done fairly easily.
To enable open source silicon and wide adoption of hardware design, we need an online design tools, starting from the mostly widely used programming language, C.
Quite a few software vendors have started offering C-synthesis tools, from industry observer John Cooley.
Here's an idea for a business model to make the online tool work.
You may enter a piece of C code from the web interface. Push a button will get you the equivalent gate-level netlist that implements the same functionality. In addition, performance analysis reports, such as, how much speed up will be gained by implementing in silicon versus software, methods to interface with other modules of the system, etc.
All these are free, except when you want to use the netlist in hardware, whether in terms of FPGA (field programmable logic arrays) or ASIC (application specific integrated circuit), a license fee needs to be paid, based on the size and scale of the system.
With an easy-to-use interface, it enables more system designers to explore the option of instantiating customized hardware.
The long tail of hardware design.
photo credit BotheredByBees