Fabless suppliers providing multimedia Systems-on-Chip (SoC) for Set-Top-Box (STB) applications have to address major challenges such as compliance to national and/or worldwide standards for both STB and audio. Moreover, they have to target the trade-offs between system performances and Bill-of-Material (BoM) costs per different market segments and customer requests.
Indeed, when a whole application schematics (ASC) or a single component is changed for BoM minimization, it is uncertain whether the standard and system-level performances will be met. A considerable amount of time is then needed to change the ASC, its associated test board and its measurements, to make sure that all the criteria in the diverse standards are met: SNR, THD, crosstalk, frequency response…
Fortunately, Dolphin Integration does not only provide audio converters for STB application but also offers a thorough support by its Integration and Application Engineers (IAE). Upon analyzing customer’s integration and application constraints, they propose solutions fitting requested standards and finally provide various optimizations at SoC and system level to enhance customers’ differentiators.
Ultimately, application schematics for selected performance trade-offs are simulated with proper documentation for third parties: the equipment designers. Typically, the fabless suppliers need to provide competitive application schematics for smart trade-offs between the system performances and the BoM, depending on final application or targeted standard, as demonstrated on the illustration below.
Dolphin Integration’s Senior Integration and Application Engineering Manager, David Carlioz, explained why the IAE support is unique: “We are able to provide different and robust application schematics, without our users needing to verify each one in the lab, thanks to the combination of three major factors:
- The methodology of Application Hardware Modelling (AHM), which we have developed over five years, allows us to follow a meticulous process from the identification of potential integration and application risks, to the simulation results, with equivalence checking through the lab measurements.
- Our secret weapon, the truly mixed-signal simulator “SMASH”, enables simulation across the border of integration (SoC) and application (PCB) sides. It can be combined with:
- the schematic editor “SLED” for easy and visual model parameterization and composition
- the estimator “Scrooge” for hierarchical evaluation of power consumption to help smoothly build the simulation environment according customer’s request.
- IAE and system architects’ expertise on accurately identifying the relevant risks and the modelling know-how and availability of generic models (reproducing critical noise transfer functions), enables us to get the right models for a defined composite trial path to solve a real issue.
Our IAE support is made possible thanks to the simultaneous presence of the ingredients (Silicon IP and relevant models), the set of tools, the methodology and our know-how.”