As we celebrate over 50 years of microprocessors, the industry has embraced every generation of silicon process technology with architectural innovation plus new design methods that have supported innovations in almost every market segment. The interest around RISC-V is opening up increased activity around new approaches to optimize designs for the next generation of devices across multiple market segments. Without the one-size-fits all constraints of traditional embedded processor IP, system designers are again looking at tradeoffs and flexibility to find new optimized solutions.
At one time, almost every major semiconductor supplier had a proprietary microprocessor architecture. However, over time the customer’s and/or end user’s investment in software helped drive consolidation in many markets around a few standard ISA’s. The ecosystem and software reuse became the key requirement for any roadmap plans. Innovation was focused around the peripherals and dedicated hardware functionality which was marketed as either general-purpose MCUs or as application/market specialist devices (ASSPs). As the growth in complexity expanded, the design verification (DV) task become more specialized and advanced. The state of the industry today is that first pass silicon success is no longer exceptional but routine and expected with confidence.