Monday, March 26, 2012

Synopsys unveils industry's first complete audio IP subsystem

MOUNTAIN VIEW, USA: Synopsys Inc. announced the availability of the DesignWare SoundWave Audio Subsystem, a complete, integrated hardware and software audio IP subsystem for system-on-chip (SoC) designs.

Synopsys' SoundWave Audio Subsystem is fully configurable and supports 2.0 to 7.1 audio streams with 24-bit precision to meet the requirements of a broad range of audio applications such as digital TVs, set-top boxes, Blu-ray Discs, portable audio devices and tablets.

The SoundWave Audio Subsystem consists of the following components: DesignWare ARC 32-bit audio processors; standard digital interfaces; analog codecs; a comprehensive library of software audio codecs supporting the latest formats from Dolby, DTS and SRS; and a complete software environment including an integrated media streaming framework.

The SoundWave Audio Subsystem also includes both virtual and FPGA-based prototypes to help engineering teams accelerate software development and validation of the full system. By integrating multiple IP blocks together with software as a pre-verified audio subsystem, Synopsys gives designers an SoC-ready audio solution that can significantly reduce their SoC design and integration effort, lower design risk and accelerate time-to-market.

The increasing use of multi-channel audio content and higher sampling rates in audio applications is adding to the complexity of many of today's consumer-targeted SoCs. In addition, new audio specifications require more signal processing and bandwidth to deliver high quality sound reproduction across a wider range of audio formats.

The use of dedicated audio subsystems enables audio processing to be off-loaded from the host processor, thus reducing design complexity and improving the performance and efficiency of the SoC.

"With the average number of IP blocks in an SoC expected to reach close to 120 by 2014, designers need solutions that help them reduce the effort needed to integrate the IP and manage the complexity of those blocks," said Rich Wawrzyniak, senior market analyst at Semico Research Corp.

"With complete, pre-verified IP subsystems, which include the hardware as well as the software that goes around the IP, designers can solve their design issues at the chip-level rather than the individual block level. With the DesignWare SoundWave Audio Subsystem, Synopsys is pioneering new ground in the IP industry that will enable electronics developers to innovate at a much faster rate."

Integrated hardware
The SoundWave Audio Subsystem features the choice of an ARC single or dual-core power-efficient 32-bit audio processor optimized for processing multiple high-definition, multi-channel audio streams in parallel. The subsystem includes digital I2S and S/PDIF interfaces for off-chip audio connections as well as high-bandwidth on-chip connections to interfaces like HDMI.

ARM AMBA 3 AXI/AHB protocol system interfaces ease integration into the SoC infrastructure. Analog audio codecs provide high-quality audio connections for line inputs and outputs, microphones, loud speakers and headphones. An easy-to-use configuration tool allows designers to quickly select options such as number of channels and number of audio interfaces, enabling a complete audio subsystem to be configured in hours instead of weeks if done manually.

Synopsys also offers SoC integration services to help customers integrate the subsystem into their chip or customize it to meet their unique application requirements.

Dedicated software
The SoundWave Audio Subsystem offers a complete, ready-to-use software environment including audio codecs that support the latest multi-channel audio formats from Dolby Laboratories (e.g., Dolby Digital Plus and TrueHD), DTS (e.g., DTS HD Master Audio), SRS Labs (e.g., TruSurround HD4 and TruVolume) and Microsoft (e.g., WMA 10 Pro), as well as popular open source formats like Ogg Vorbis and FLAC.

The SoundWave Audio Subsystem's integrated media streaming framework embeds decoders, encoders and audio post-processing functions such as volume control, equalization and surround balance. The framework allows software codecs and post-processing software to be easily instantiated into the subsystem. Audio plug-ins based on the industry-standard GStreamer multimedia software enable developers to quickly integrate audio subsystem software into their host application software.

Virtual and hardware prototypes
Developers of software-rich electronic devices, particularly those targeted at the mobile and consumer markets, must address not only the escalating amount of software content in their designs, but also the challenge of developing the software and integrating it with the hardware.
To ease the software development effort, a Synopsys Virtualizer-based virtual prototype of the SoundWave Audio Subsystem enables early integration of the audio software stack with the application software, months before silicon becomes available. The audio subsystem's HAPS® FPGA-based prototyping solution enables immediate software development and provides a scalable platform for rapid full system integration and validation.

"As designers evolve their methodologies to cope with the growing complexity of SoC designs, IP deliverables must also evolve," said John Koeter, VP of marketing for IP and systems at Synopsys. "The best mix of hardware and software is needed to help designers meet the performance, cost, power and schedule requirements of their designs. The DesignWare SoundWave Audio Subsystem enables designers to significantly shorten their time from concept to implementation by providing a complete end-to-end audio subsystem that has been pre-validated and is system-ready."

The DesignWare Audio Subsystem is available now for early adopters with general availability planned for April 2012.

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