Silicon IP Cores
Part 2 — John Blyler with Meredith Lucky at REUSE 2016
Editor John Blyler talked with our Meredith Lucky (and Nikos Zervas) at the recent REUSE 2016 show. See this the second part of the interesting interview in the video and transcript below. (Part 1 covered Legacy vs. New IP).
PART 2: CAST on GZIP, IP Trends, and REUSE 2016
John Blyler: You gave a presentation this morning and you were talking about GZIP, actually, in terms of compression acceleration and whatnot.
You know, engineers, typically when they think of compression they think of, well here's some latency issues. Then they also think about, well, how’s the processor going to run it? Do I run it hardware or software? Maybe comment on a few of these things?
Meredith Lucky: Okay. We are seeing a lot of people interested in GZIP because it has a lot of applications in reducing the amount of data. So, whether you're talking about storage or sending it over communication channels—Ethernet or wireless—it does have a lot of applications, even firmware compression.
So, I like to use a standard. Standard bases are always good so that you can have different pieces of the system talking to each other. So, why not put GZIP in just a processor and use a software algorithm, why use an IP processor from CAST?
Well, you free up the processor. [Compression is] a very compute-intensive algorithm., so you would need more processing power, and you're going to put latency into the system. So, now it’s like, ok, when do I need that data, instead of, I’m just going to put in a core and get the data pretty much instantaneously.
JB: It’s not a very big footprint for the hardware?
ML: Well I have to say, it really depends: this is a programmable core. This is where we talk to our customers and see what the trade-offs are. Because anytime you have an IP and hardware, you're talking about the trade-offs between area, the performance,
the latency. So, for the example that I gave for Internet of Things where you really are looking at die size, you can get a very small implementation. Some of my customers who are doing data servers though, they don't have silicon resource problems, they want the best compression. So, they might have a much larger core.
JB: Let's switch gears slightly and talk about the IP trends that you've seen from yourself and talking with customers in the various markets; IoT, I think communication was another one.
ML: It’s interesting because we don’t really focus on one particular market segment. Our IP, whether it’s processors, or image and video compression, or data compression, is really applicable to different market segments. So we have a really good view of what’s going on in the industry, and I have to say: I’m seeing a healthy industry again which makes me really happy.
I haven't seen this level of new design starts for a number of years now. [There are} even start-ups, with venture capital money behind them; it’s great to see.
JB: These start-ups are in both the hardware and the software space?
ML: A lot of them are doing unique chips, and they are looking to bring value-added to the marketplace. Whereas, you know, we have traditionally given people IP in order to get time to market very quickly. People have come to us, they want IP off the shelf. But now, it’s more, how do I get my value added out there? And, how can I do that with this particular piece of IP?
JB: We have had a very good discussion and now I see Nikos (Zervas) is here, the CEO [of CAST]. Do you want to come and say hi? You remember him from our last videos. Hi, how is it going?
Nikos Zervas: Good, it has been a very interesting show. I would call this a success for the first one.
JB: We’re at the REUSE 2016, the very first of this show. Warren Savage, now of Silvaco is heading it, but, CAST is one of the founding members, and we are glad for that.
NZ: We are certainly glad for that. And we are glad it is being accepted. We have 30 plus IP companies; it’s a focused event.
We had one customer, he stepped into our booth and asked about a product of ours, then went to the very next table and asked our competitor about it. That is what trade shows are supposed to be about. It’s nice, focused, and it’s good for networking for us as vendors.
JB: It’s very focused on just IP so there is not a lot of other parts of the ecosystem here.
ML: And there is a lot of brainstorming. I’ve really enjoyed the technical discussions I’ve had with the customers. They’ll have a problem that isn’t related to IP and it is nice that they’re saying, “well are you thinking about it?”. It’s not a direct connection. They are not talking about my product, but we will be talking about a subject that is important to them and I’ll see the applications for our product. So, it’s been a really good technical exchange.
JB: Plenty of good talks here and I’ll be writing about them in the coming weeks.
ML / NZ: Thank you.