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Unfair advantage? How OEMs get ahead with Custom Compute  

Intro

Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) constantly face the challenge of delivering cutting-edge products that meet the evolving demands of their customers. In the world of technology, where innovation is the key to staying ahead, the choice of computing solutions plays a pivotal role in shaping the success of OEMs. In the past OEMs have relied on system suppliers or fabless semiconductor companies to provide the core of their computing solutions. If the OEMs use the same set of components – such as automotive microcontrollers – their only opportunity for differentiation is limited to software. 

We already see a number of companies, not just Amazon, Apple and Tesla, creating their own differentiated chips rather than purchasing standard parts. This is because standard components either do not allow the level of integration that is required, or do not match the exact use case specifications, or lack the desired features or are bloated with unused ones. Customized processors are the next evolutionary stage, and they are gaining significant traction, as seen from Meta’s keynote at the latest RISC-V Summit. In this blog, we’ll delve into the reasons why Custom Compute is a game-changer for OEMs in the pursuit of excellence. 

Tailored performance 

Custom Compute solutions empower OEMs to fine-tune hardware configurations to precisely match the specific requirements of their applications. Unlike off-the-shelf processors that offer a one-size-fits-all approach, Custom Compute allows OEMs to optimize performance for the exact workload and operational demands of their products. This tailored performance not only enhances efficiency but also contributes to a competitive edge in the market: 

  • Products that cost less – saving energy helps reducing the operating cost of the device (less battery changes or less electricity consumed) 
  • More attractive products – less energy consumption means a smaller battery for portable devices, which then can be made smaller and lighter, and can last longer between charges, or generate less heat… all selection criteria for the end user 
  • More performance – customizing the processor is probably the best way to enhance the capabilities of the device, enabling previously prohibitively expensive features to be included at a reasonable cost 
  • Protection against copycats – customized processors can support your custom instructions, that would only run in your particular product, so rogue competitors cannot reuse your software, and would even have a hard time reverse-engineering it 
Benefits of Custom Compute for end products

Benefits of Custom Compute for end products 

Future-proof products 

Technology evolves rapidly, and OEMs must be prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. Common product improvements include: 

  • Better algorithms 
  • Adding new product functionality 
  • Improving security and safety 
  • Fixing bugs 
  • Meeting new regulations 

Custom Compute solutions provide the flexibility to adapt to future technological advancements, thanks to their programmability, while being still able to offer a level of performance that purely programmable circuits (FPGA) simply cannot match. In many cases, the improvements can be achieved through secure over-the-air (OTA) software updates. 

A more radical way to upgrade a Custom Compute solution is by updating the hardware itself. By combining Codasip’s RISC-V cores with Menta’s eFPGA technology it is possible to provide eFPGA resources in the processor pipeline and to implement new instructions after tape-out. This enables additional functionality to be added to OEM chips late in a production run or even to implement field upgrades, and to enable multiple product lines from a single SoC, leading to significant cost savings. 

Upgradability, scalability, and the ability to incorporate the latest technologies ensure that products built on Custom Compute solutions remain relevant and competitive in the long term.  

Codasip and Menta

Codasip and Menta technology combination to create optimized products

The secret unfair advantage for OEMs 

In the fiercely competitive landscape of OEMs, staying ahead requires a strategic approach to computing solutions. Custom Compute, with its ability to deliver tailored performance, enhanced efficiency, competitive differentiation, and future-proofing, emerges as a compelling choice. As OEMs continue to push the boundaries of innovation, this will help them gain an unfair advantage through delivering cutting-edge products that get in front of their competition. 

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