Silicon IP Cores
Part I — John Blyler with Meredith Lucky at REUSE 2016
Editor John Blyler talked with our Meredith Lucky at the REUSE 2016 show. See the first part of the interesting interview in this video and transcript. (The second part is posted here.)
John Blyler: Hi, this is John Blyler, editorial director for Semi IP Systems. Today I’m at the Computer History Museum and I have the pleasure of talking to Meredith Lucky, who is the VP of Sales at CAST and a technical person as well.
Meredith Lucky: Yes, well everybody at CAST is an electrical engineer. That's really how we built up the business, by being able to relate to our customers.
JB: Let’s talk about old IP and new IP. So, there's lots of new applications that are coming along, and you had commented earlier about some of these differences. What's your take on that?
ML: Well, we have legacy IP. We've been around for 23 years so we have a lot of IP that's still applicable today. People sort of laugh at me when I say you know that the 8051 is still one of our best sellers right along with our 32-bit processors. Why would that be? And now with a whole new marketplace of Internet of Things where you're looking at really small footprint and low-power applications, throwing in an 8051 as an embedded controller is just really a great thing to do because you have a whole ecosystem. People are familiar with it, they're familiar with the toolset. So it's a really good choice.
We're seeing a lot of the old IP still moving into new market spaces. So, that's really good. And, even [consider] the JPEGs. I have more people coming to me asking me about H.264 for an application where really a JPEG core is applicable. You know they sort of look at me and laugh and say you know well JPEG has been around forever. But, if you're looking at compression ratios down about ten to one, and you can keep up with the processing speed—with [our] new JPEGs we have multiple encoders that can keep up with high-def video now—so why not use a stable core? It's a small footprint, again, it runs very fast, you have one clock cycle per sample. So, why not? Why put in an H.264? That's overkill.
JB: You would still think there would be some, at least with the 8051, some interface issues or something. But, I guess that’s not a big deal?
ML: Well, that leads us to what are the demands now for new technologies coming. Some of them haven’t materialized. I've had people asking me about 4K video for the last, how many years? Still, there are very few of my customers that actually require [4K] or 60 frames a second video. So we like to talk about what the requirements might be for the next project but, I've been hearing these for a couple years now and they still haven't materialized. But, we do have to plan for it.
In the meantime, you take the old IP. I’ll take the example of the JPEG again. So now I have a JPEG that could run at maximum performance in a specific technology, whether that's the ASIC or a specific FPGA family, and I need to have it go faster. So we can parallelize them and we can have a core with multiple engines, and that can keep up with the increased throughput for faster frame rate or very high definition.
JB: So, IoT yes, but how about drones? There’s got to be some cool technology, we’re talking about JPEGs, some new things that are coming on?
ML: Yes, we have a lot of customers that are doing drones and Internet of Things. And, it's interesting again about what people have talked about and what's materializing.
So you have everybody and even my drone customers are talking about ultra-high-definition. Now we're coming to a space where it's not really about high-definition quality, it's about just getting the data and being able to process it. Because we want to bring that analytics [processing] to the edge. We don’t want to be transmitting all that data now: we want to be capturing it, doing some kind of computation, face recognition, or something like that. Processing the data, and the video doesn’t have to be ultra-high quality. So, some of those requirements people thought they were really going to want have gone by the wayside a little bit.
JB: And you could do facial recognition comparisons and what not on an 8-bit core? Or does it have to be higher?
ML: Well we don’t do analytics ourselves. That’s a different space, not our IP space. But, it’s the data that they are manipulating and where that is going to take place. So we have seen that in the surveillance market over the last decade where they’ve moved a lot of the surveillance type of control applications form the server out to the camera. And that’s what we’re going to see with the Internet of Things. It’s sort of the same thing. Instead of sending data to be processed, we’re bringing it out to the edge. So now we have to have more performance and a smaller footprint; low-power. We are seeing different types of requirements based on the market.
See more interviews and reports by John Blyler on his YouTube channel.