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Cadence Floats K-Series DSPs

July 20, 2021

Author: Mike Demler

Cadence’s Tensilica DSPs are configurable with floating-point (FP) units that deliver the extra dynamic range and precision necessary to run Kalman object tracking, simultaneous localization and mapping (Slam), and other complex algorithms. But because such workloads make less use of the standard integer units, area and power efficiency can suffer. To better address these workloads, the company developed a new family of FP-optimized DSPs: the Tensilica KP1, KP6, KQ7, and KQ8. Although power, performance, and area (PPA) depend on the implementation, Cadence estimates up to a 40% area reduction compared with Tensilica DSPs that integrate alternative vector FP extensions, as well as up to 30% energy savings.

The new K-series is available for general licensing. The product names may appear cryptic, but the key to identifying their lineage is to mind the Ps and Qs. The KP1 and KP6 emphasize area and power savings; they use the same LX7 instruction-execution pipeline as Tensilica Vision P1 and P6 DSPs. The KP1 integrates a 128-bit SIMD engine, whereas the KP6 integrates a 512-bit SIMD. Both support the Xtensa LX secure mode, which (like Arm’s TrustZone) isolates trusted and untrusted memory regions.

The company optimized the KQ7 and KQ8 to deliver greater throughput than the power-saving models. They implement the 10-stage NX pipeline, like the Vision Q7 and Q8 DSPs. The KQ7 is a 512-bit SIMD core, whereas the KQ8 is 1,024 bits. Cadence expects the LX7-based DSPs to exceed 1.0GHz in 7nm technology.

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