Perhaps the most compelling new trend in system-level semiconductor design is the concept of application “platforms”. Such platforms are intended to make the development of complex, application-specific systems-on-chip (SOCs) an order of magnitude faster and more reusable. They may provide either functional and infrastructure IP, or both, as well as definitions and interfaces for layers of abstraction in the design process. Functional IP may include microprocessors, DSPs, specific logic functions, mixed signal, memory and interfaces (USB, Serdes, etc). Infrastructure IP may include clock and power network architecture, cell libraries and test setups.

The focus of this discussion will be on platforms for the implementation of application-specific SOCs. Generic platforms for system design, silicon infrastructure, and programming, while important, are not considered here.