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Designing SOCs with Configured Cores by Steve Leibson

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Chapter 3. Xtensa Architectural Basics

Anyone can build a fast CPU.

The trick is to build a fast system.

—Seymour Cray

Academic researchers, system-on-chip (SOC) designers, and ASIC and EDA vendors are in a fair amount of agreement as to what must be done to reduce SOC design risks. SOC designs must become flexible enough to accommodate design changes brought on by design errors, spec changes, standards changes, and competitive market forces. Designing additional flexibility into an SOC allows one chip design to serve several products and multiple product generations.

One way to add flexibility to an SOC is to add firmware programmability through microprocessor cores. However, firmware programmability alone does not provide the requisite flexibility ...

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