SoC : System-On-a-Chip

System-on-a-chip (SoC) refers to integrating all components of an electronic system into a single integrated circuit (chip). A SoC can include the integration of:

  • Ready made sub-circuits (IP)
  • One or more microcontroller, microprocessor or DSP core(s)
  • Memory components
  • Sensors
  • Digital, Analog, or Mixed signal components
  • Timing sources, like oscillators and phase-locked loops
  • Voltage regulators and power management circuits
The blocks of SoC are connected by a special bus, such as the AMBA bus. DMA controllers are used for routing the data directly between external interfaces and memory, by-passing the processor core and thereby increasing the data throughput of the SoC. SoC is widely used in the area of embedded systems. SoCs can be fabricated by several technologies, like, Full custom, Standard cell, FPGA, etc. SoC designs are usually power and cost effective, and more reliable than the corresponding multi-chip systems. A programmable SoC is known as PSoC.

Advantages of SoC are:
  • Small size, reduction in chip count
  • Low power consumption
  • Higher reliability
  • Lower memory requirements
  • Greater design freedom
  • Cost effective
Design Flow

SoC consists of both hardware and software( to control SoC components). The aim of SoC design is to develop hardware and software in parallel. SoC design uses pre-qualified hardware, along with their software (drivers) which control them. The hardware blocks are put together using CAD tools; the software modules are integrated using a software development environment. The SoC design is then programmed onto a FPGA, which helps in testing the behavior of SoC. Once SoC design passes the testing it is then sent to the place and route process. Then it will be fabricated. The chips will be completely tested and verified.

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