ARM Extends AMBA Specification With AXI Protocol For High-Performance System-on-chip Design

16 June 2003

AXI delivers ground-breaking performance while building on key AMBA strengths

CAMBRIDGE, UK — June 16, 2003 – ARM [(LSE: ARM); (Nasdaq: ARMHY)], the industry's leading provider of 16/32-bit embedded RISC microprocessor solutions, today announced at Embedded Processor Forum, San Jose, Calif., the release of the AXI definition, a new high-performance protocol within the AMBA™ methodology portfolio of specifications. AXI technology enhances the existing AMBA specification providing a protocol that has been designed to meet the needs of ultra high performance and complex system-on-chip (SoC) designs.

Companies that have collaborated on the development of AXI technology, include: Agere Systems, Agilent, Atmel, Cadence, Conexant Systems, CoWare Inc., Epson, Ericsson Mobile Platforms AB, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard Company, Infineon, LSI Logic, Mentor Graphics, Matsushita, Micronas, Motorola, NEC Electronics Corporation, NEC Electronics (Europe), OKI Electric Industry Co., Philips Semiconductors, QUALCOMM, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Synopsys, Toshiba Corporation, and Verisity. ARM's Silicon Partners have co-operated to ensure that AXI technology satisfies the most demanding interconnect requirements of performance and flexibility and ARM's EDA Partners have engaged to provide comprehensive third-party tools support.

"The new AXI protocol puts AMBA firmly in the lead in the high-performance system space," said Mike Muller, CTO, ARM. "Features such as the uni-directional channel architecture and support for multiple outstanding transactions ensure that AXI technology delivers the high data bandwidth, high clock speeds and low latencies required by the most demanding system designs."

By offering developers a complete embedded solution, from the industry-leading microprocessor cores to pioneering design methodologies such as AMBA AXI technology, ARM continues to provide innovative technologies that further reduce time-to-market for ARM Partners.

"The AXI technology meets the growing need for a protocol specifically designed for very high-performance applications," said Markus Levy, senior analyst, Instat/MDR. "With features such as register-sliced signaling and out-of-order burst transactions, the AXI technology will significantly benefit intra-chip data transfers within next-generation SoCs. Furthermore, the fact that so many of ARM Partners collaborated to develop the AXI protocol implies it already has wide industry acceptance and support."

In line with support for current AMBA protocols, APB and AHB, ARM will provide a comprehensive range of products to complement the third-party support for AXI technology. This will comprise a complete design environment of modelling, verification and implementation IP.

Technical features of the new high-performance AXI protocol include:

  • Uni-directional channel architecture. Information flow is in one direction only, enabling very simple bridging between clock domains. This reduces the gate count and hence timing penalty when signals traverse complex SoCs.
  • Support for multiple outstanding transactions. This enables parallel execution of bursts, resulting in greater data throughput. This facilitates both high performance when required, and low power as tasks complete in a shorter time.
  • Independent Address and Data channels. This enables per-channel optimization, by breaking timing paths as required to maximize clock frequency and minimize latency.
  • Increased flexibility. With symmetrical Master and Slave interfaces, AXI technology can be easily used for anything from point-point to multi-hierarchy systems.

The AMBA AXI specification is available from ARM now. The specification is open and free of any charges and is downloadable from the ARM web site at: www.arm.com . To protect the integrity of the AMBA technology, the specification is made available under a simple license agreement.

Editor's Note: The following collaborating companies have endorsed the AXI protocol:

"AMBA technology has become an established standard within our industry for system-on-chip module assembly. By adopting AMBAAXI technology, we will protect the significant investment that we have made in AMBA, while taking a big step forward in performance and flexibility."
Don Friedberg, director of design methodology, Agere Systems

"AMBA AXI methodology brings a new step forward for high bandwidth and low latency design with backward AHB compatibility."
Michel Guellec, IP Design manager, Atmel Rousset

"Cadence is committed to providing new technologies and services throughout the design chain as AMBA technology continues to evolve. A major aspect of our support will be enabling smooth migration to the new release, to ensure that legacy SoC designs can take full advantage of new capabilities without loss of productivity. Cadence expertise in HDL and SystemC tools in real-world SoC products provides a strong foundation for customers as they begin to create AMBA AXI designs."
Rahul Razdan, corporate vice president and general manager of the Systems and Functional Verification group, Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

"The participative nature of the AMBA AXI Program has ensured that the new specification will further increase both the flexibility and the performance of the protocol and yield a cross-platform adoption."
Mohamed Ben-Romdhane, IP director, Conexant Systems Inc.

"By participating in the AMBA AXI Program, we have been able to understand the new capabilities AMBA AXI technology brings to the market, enabling us to plan the additions to our existing AMBA 2.0 support. This will enable our customers to take advantage of the new standard as early as possible."
John MacDermott, director, Strategic Alliances, CoWare Inc.

"With the continual increase in system performance and the aggressive time-to-market required of Infineon's wireless business the availability of open bus standards plays an important role. Working in partnership with the industry as a whole improves efficiency in terms of tools, IP re-use and exchange. With the wide collaboration and support, the AMBA AXI program looks set to follow in the footsteps of AMBA 2.0 technology. AMBA AXI technology certainly has some useful pipelining and posting features that will be of benefit for larger chips requiring scalable interconnects at high frequency. The case for adoption is strong, and we are in a position to support this as an industry standard."
Klaus Hau, vice president and general manager Wide Area, Secure Mobile Solutions, Infineon Technologies AG

"AMBA AXI technology introduces new capabilities, not just at the protocol level but also to ease physical implementation of the bus in deep sub-micron technologies. These new features will likely expand the adoption of AMBA technology beyond just next-generation processors SoC subsystems to other application specific areas with high-bandwidth and low-latency requirements. LSI Logic is already implementing targeted peripherals and subsystems based on the draft AMBA AXI standard."
Rafi Kedem, senior director of processor cores technology group, LSI Logic.

"The industry-wide acceptance of AMBA technology as a SoC bus standard was key in our development of Platform ExpressT, enabling us to automate the creation and verification of complex IP in SoC designs. AMBA AXI technology will facilitate the creation of even more sophisticated SoC designs."
Serge Leef, general manager, SoC Verification Division, Mentor Graphics

"The joint definition of the AMBA AXI open standard enables interconnect schemes to be well adapted to tomorrow's data access requirements. This approach enables us to extend our successful in-house implementations based on current AMBA technology to new methodologies which combine our own complex building blocks with third-party IP."
Steffen Zimmermann, system engineering multimedia, Micronas

"Motorola plans to work with ARM to merge the Motorola IP Interconnect with the future AMBA specification. At the same time, we are working with our customers to bring commercial implementations of ARM to market quickly and effectively, as shown by the rapidly growing list of global customers for our portfolio of Innovative Convergence™ 2.5G integrated multimedia and software solutions."
Morris Moore, vice president and director of Systems/Architecture, Wireless Broadband and Systems Group, Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector

"Having largely standardized our internal methodology for ARM core-based SoC and macro development around AMBA 2.0 technology we are looking forward to introducing the enhanced capabilities of the AMBA AXI methodology."
Ewald Preiss, manager, Macro Development Group, NEC Electronics (Europe)

"We believe that the AMBA AXI architecture will enable us to deliver the best solution to our customers."
Tomihiro Ishihara, department manager of SoC design support group, 3rd Custom LSI Division, 1st Business Development Operation Unit, NEC Electronics Corporation

"The new features within AXI technology will drive the adoption of the AMBA methodology even further as it addresses complex on-chip communications issues, furthering the development of even more sophisticated system-on-chip designs while easing the SoC integration challenge. We are committed to working with ARM to establish AXI technology as the next-generation on-chip interconnect standard."
Yuki Ushida, general manager, Strategic Planning Office, Silicon Solutions Company, OKI Electric Industry Co. Ltd.

"The current generation of AMBA technology, widely supported by third party tool and IP vendors, receives broad usage within Philips. We have been able to contribute to the AMBA AXI program and jointly define a next-generation open standard, that will address our most challenging on-chip communication needs."
Bart De Loore, general manager, ReUse Technology Group, Philips Semiconductors

"AMBA technology has been very useful in developing our mobile application processors. We believe that the new AMBA AXI methodology would contribute a lot in making the SoC integration more efficient, simpler and easier, definitely with a lot of performance improvement."
Dr. Yun-Tae Lee, vice president of Mobile Solution Project, Samsung Electronics

"We have seen open On-Chip-Bus standards combined with plug-compatible commercial IP significantly increase the productivity of SoC designers. Based on the success of more than 150 users of our DesignWare AMBA 2.0 IP solutions, we will continue our commitment to AMBA by delivering AMBA AXI implementation and verification IP."
Mike Keating, vice president of engineering, Synopsys

"System-level interconnect can be a bottleneck that erodes performance. One of the reasons ARM CPUs have been so successful in ASIC development is that ARM had the foresight to develop AMBA technology and have energetically deployed it. AMBA technology helps reduce design time for ARM core-based ASICs and is important for the success of the ARM11™ architecture."
Richard Tobias, vice president, ASIC and Foundry Business Unit, System LSI Group, Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc.

"Verisity has long partnered with ARM to provide essential technology and methodology for functional verification, and we are committed to helping enable the ARM open AMBA AXI on-chip bus standard. Verisity will work closely with ARM to address the need for AMBA AXI compliance verification and e Verification Component (eVC) availability to ensure that our customers' embedded system designs are of the highest quality."
Dave Tokic, director of strategic marketing, Verisity

About AMBA
The AMBA specification is an established, open methodology that serves as a framework for SoC designs, effectively providing the 'digital glue' that binds IP cores together. It is the backbone of ARM's design reuse strategy and has been adopted by a large part of the industry including more than 90 percent of ARM's Partners, and a large number of third-party IP providers. The specification has been downloaded more than 12,000 times and implemented in hundreds of ASIC designs.

With a wide third-party IP base and extensive EDA tool support from many of the industry's leading EDA suppliers, the AMBA methodology provides a quality solution for interface-based design of high-performance systems. Since the AMBA interface is processor and technology independent, it enhances the reusability of peripheral and system macrocells across a wide range of silicon processes.

About ARM
ARM is the industry's leading provider of 16/32-bit embedded RISC microprocessor solutions. The company licenses its high-performance, low-cost, power-efficient RISC processors, peripherals, and system-on-chip designs to leading international electronics companies. ARM also provides comprehensive support required in developing a complete system. ARM's microprocessor cores are rapidly becoming a volume RISC standard in such markets as portable communications, handheld computing, multimedia, digital consumer and embedded solutions. More information on ARM is available at http://www.arm.com .


ARM is a registered trademark of ARM Limited. ARM11 and AMBA are trademarks of ARM Limited. All other brands or product names are the property of their respective holders. "ARM" is used to represent ARM Holdings plc (LSE: ARM and Nasdaq: ARMHY); its operating company ARM Limited; and the regional subsidiaries ARM INC.; ARM KK; ARM Korea Ltd.; ARM Taiwan; ARM France SAS; and ARM Consulting (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.


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