HP eyes PICO system to reduce design time

The "program in, chip out" (PICO) technology developed by Hewlett-Packard Laboratories (HPL) focuses on reducing the time required to design embedded computing systems for so-called smart products.

HP is applying the principles of mass customisation to semiconductor design. To be successful in the smart products space, companies need to be able to "design lots of highly customised computer systems, each one customised to a particular smart product for a particular application," said Bob Rau, a senior research scientist with HP. Rau is also manager of compiler and architecture research at HPL's Computer Research Center.

"You need very high performance in many cases, and you also need low cost so that it can be a consumer product, and the only way you can achieve that is by customising the computer system to the particular application, so you throw away what is not needed, and provide only what is required," Rau said.

The market for embedded, customised technology will be driven by the same forces which have pushed the computer industry away from mainframes through minicomputers and workstations to the ubiquitous PC.

"For the very same reasons, that is higher levels of integration, it will continue to move down to the next level which is embedded computing, where you have computers embedded within products making them smaller, intelligent and with more functionality," Rau said.

HP will initially use its PICO technology in-house, and may subsequently offer it as a service or as a tool to other companies designing devices using embedded computing.

PICO cuts down design time by automating parts of the process. It takes code written in the common programming language C, and automatically designs a best-fit custom EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing) processor and custom accelerator for it. It also retargets the PICO C compiler for the custom processor, according to Vinod Kathail, project manager for compiler and architecture research at HPL.

Typical applications for the system might be hard-wiring a speech recognition or image processing algorithm.

The EPIC architecture, co-developed by HP and Intel, is the foundation for Intel's IA-64 processor architecture. PICO also utilises a "design space walker" to evaluate design options on a number of parameters including performance, cost, smaller chip size, and low power consumption.

The PICO output, which is the detailed design of the embedded computer system for the device, including the custom EPIC processor optimised to run the application for the device, is specified in VHDL, a hardware description language used in electronic design automation to describe a set of circuits for fabrication.

PICO allows designers to develop computer architectures for Internet appliances and other devices that will be optimised on cost and performance to target market niches and vertical applications, according to HP. By replacing time-consuming manual design with automatic processes, the new design technology ensures that the growing demand for custom embedded systems for a large variety of products will be met, according to Rau.

"When you think of trying to design highly customised computer systems, each one customised for a particular smart product, and you think of doing that on a very wide scale, you have to automate the process," Rau said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

PC World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?