IP COREspondence December 2020

CAST COREspondence - MIPI, SFLASH, TSN, JPEGs, IP Experience
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CAST COREspondence
The IP Newsletter from CAST, Inc. — Dec. 17, 2020
The virtual workplace approach CAST has used for nearly thirty years (see article below) has served us well in staying healthy and productive through the pandemic. Judging by our IP sales, other companies have also persevered, as 2020 has been our most successful year ever.

Sales have covered the whole wide spectrum of IP that we offer. Even our classic 8051 microcontroller cores saw a significant increase in 2020. Customers have now shipped billions of products using our 8051s and 32-bit BA2x processor cores.

I hope that you and those you care for are staying safe and healthy. It's unclear yet what 2021 holds, but we wish you the best and are ready to help with the IP challenges you face.
--  Nikos, Zervas, CEO, [email protected]

Discovering Problems So You Don’t Have To

Tony Sousek, Engineering Director for CAST IP Cores
“Integration is not part of the core but it is definitely part of the deal.”
Tony Sousek,
Engineering Director
Our scope has always gone beyond IP itself: even a well-crafted and verified core is insufficient if system designers find that core difficult to integrate and use. A good example is the UDPIP stacks that we offer, as they must function with Ethernet MACs from all the different FPGA vendors.

In theory, connecting our UDPIP cores to any eMAC is an easy process as the interfaces are standardized and the configuration requirements are well documented. The reality, however, can fall short of theory.

Little anomalies can pop up and turn UDPIP/eMAC integration into a painful, time-consuming venture. When things go wrong, customers tend to blame and seek advice from the IP provider. To be ready, we proactively invest time in integration exercises aiming to identify and resolve any possible issue that our customers may face.

We invest in all the latest FPGA development boards that we can. We take time to integrate and test the UDPIP cores ourselves using FPGA families from Intel, Xilinx, and other vendors, connecting through both fiber and copper at 1G, 10G, 40G, and 100G.
UDPIP testing with FPGA board
Inside our UDPIP Testing Lab.
Issues that we have discovered and solved include incorrectly ordered lanes (these are always fun!) and inadequately documented routing requirements, proper clock generation for high-speed MACs (sometimes involving more than one PLL), and correct MAC configuration or power-on setup (which in most cases is different for every FPGA family even from the same vendor).

So when you license UDPIP cores—or any others—from CAST, trust that we have learned some tough lessons ahead of you, and that experience is part of what you get with CAST IP.

JPEG Cores in Baumer LXT Cameras

Baumer, Ltd. logoBaumer, Ltd. produces highly regarded sensors, instruments, and cameras. Seeking flexible yet efficient image processing for their new LXT line of high-resolution cameras, they found their solution in the JPEG family of cores we offer.

LXT Cameras from Baumer use CAST JPEG IP coresBaumer's impressive LXT cameras have resolutions from 0.5 MP to 9 MP and, via GIGe Vision, can transmit 500 full HD frames/second with over 1500 SVGA frames/second. The ability of our JPEG cores to sustain these high throughput rates on mid-range, cost-effective FPGAs first drew Baumer to CAST.

Giving their customers on-the-fly tradeoffs of compression rate and image quality was essential, and Baumer found our encoders up to this additional task. Our cores also enabled significant reductions in bandwidth, CPU load, and required storage capacity, simplifying the camera system design and lowering integration cost. 

Read more in our press release, and consider how CAST JPEG cores may boost the capabilities of your next imaging product. 

TSN Ethernet Enhancements Continue

Our popular Switch and Switched Endpoint cores for Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) Ethernet now support untagged ports. 

This matters when you must integrate legacy devices—e.g., existing sensors or actuators—that don’t support VLAN tagging, which is needed to associate packets with TSN traffic classes. Such integration would be impossible without untagged port support.

We also continue to expand our TSN demo and evaluation board offerings, which now include the Xilinx ZCU102 board. Contact Sales for details.

Serial Flash Controller:
Soft PHY Makes the Difference

CAST xSPI-MC Flash Memory Controller IP CoreA serial flash controller allows a system to read and write from an external memory device via an SPI interface. Most such controller cores rely on technology-specific modules, such as DLLs or programmable delay lines, to implement the physical layer connection (PHY) to the external device. 

The CAST xSPI-MC Flash Memory Controller IP Core is different. It does not use any process-specific modules, and features a process-independent, synthesizable, Soft PHY. This means you can easily retarget this flash controller to any ASIC or FPGA technology.

See the xSPI-MC product page for more on this and the rest of the controller's competitive features and benefits.

MIPI Line Expands with I3C Basic Slave Controller

MIPI I3C Basic Controller IP core from CASTMIPI is of course seeing rapid adoption for mobile devices and other applications. We are rapidly expanding our own MIPI offerings, most recently with a new MIPI® I3C Basic Slave Controller Core.

Available now for ASICs or FPGAs, the new controller is suitable for any I3C bus topology and is easy to configure and use. Uniquely, we believe, it features an optional integrated I3C to AMBA AHB bridging mode so that an I3C bus master can access the on-chip AHB bus without additional software assistance.

See more in the announcement: CAST Releases MIPI I3C Basic Slave Controller IP Core

Startup.info: Innovators vs. COVID 19 Series

Hal Barbour, Chairman for CAST IP Cores
“We enjoy what we do, and we do it as well as anyone in the semiconductor business.”
Hal Barbour, Chairman
Our chairman Hal Barbour was recently interviewed by online magazine Startup.info regarding CAST’s 28-year history and current resiliency in the face of the pandemic.

Hal describes the company’s origins in simulation models, and how CAST helped pioneer and grew along with what today we all know as the silicon IP industry. CAST's virtual organization and worldwide, distributed operation was very novel in our early years, but now it’s widely emulated and accepted as a key to retaining productivity—and safety—through the pandemic.

Read more in the article: Hal Barbour Tells Us How CAST Adopted a Different Approach to Business.

Company Info


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