Patent granted for "system on a chip" framework?

Discussion in 'VHDL' started by y_p_w, Aug 5, 2003.

  1. y_p_w

    y_p_w Guest

    The URL would be too long. It's patent 6,601,126, and
    is available at <http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm>

    There was an EE Times (and other CMP websites) article about
    this story.

    <http://www.eet.com/semi/news/OEG20030801S0043>

    This sounds fishy to me. I've personally worked on SoC designs
    using only uni-directional busses with various asynchronous
    peripherals - well before the time this patent was filed. I'd
    like to see PalmChip try to enforce this patent. The EET article
    also mentions that FPGAs have been using this kind of technology
    for a while.

    Here are some of the "claims" of the patent:

    "1. An on-chip interconnection system, comprising:

    a single semiconductor integrated circuit (IC);

    a plurality of uni-directional buses disposed in the IC;

    a peripheral-bus (p-bus) included in the plurality of uni-directional
    buses and that uses a simple non-pipelined protocol and supports both
    synchronous and asynchronous slave peripherals;

    a p-bus controller connected to the p-bus and constituting an only
    bus-master, and including a centralized address decoder for generating
    a dedicated peripheral select signal, and providing for a connection
    to synchronous and asynchronous slave peripherals, and further
    providing for an input/output (I/O) backplane that allows a processor
    to configure and control any of its slave peripherals; and

    an m-bus included in the plurality of uni-directional buses, and for
    providing a direct memory access (DMA) connection from any said slave
    peripherals to a main memory and permits peripherals to transfer data
    directly without processor intervention.

    2. The on-chip interconnection system of claim 1, wherein, there are
    included no tri-stated-buses, and no bi-directional buses.

    3. The on-chip interconnection system of claim 1, wherein, each signal
    has only a single buffer driver.

    4. The on-chip interconnection system of claim 1, wherein, any
    broadcast signals are re-driven by simple buffers with no extra
    control logic."
    y_p_w, Aug 5, 2003
    #1
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  2. y_p_w

    Austin Lesea Guest

    ypw,

    I, too, have my doubts on this one.

    Even though you may have used this prior to the patent, that would only
    allow you to continue using the technique without paying royalties. If no
    one published or "disclosed" the technique, then the patent could be
    valid. Hopefully you have a public published document prior to their
    "discovery"? That would kill it immediately.

    Since we have been using unidirectional interconnect since Virtex (about 5
    years ago now), with soft processor cores, and peripherals, I also believe
    that we (Xilinx) have a prior use claim. Since we also published that we
    implemented our "tri-state" buses with unidirectional interconnect in
    Virtex (as tristates were too slow), it makes this patent pretty dubious
    for any FPGA application.

    As well, any combination of cores uses single direction buses in Virtex
    and all subsequent families (for speed).

    But, if you can not point to a published article describing the technique
    in an ASIC/ASSP, then they just might "own it."

    Austin

    y_p_w wrote:

    > The URL would be too long. It's patent 6,601,126, and
    > is available at <http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm>
    >
    > There was an EE Times (and other CMP websites) article about
    > this story.
    >
    > <http://www.eet.com/semi/news/OEG20030801S0043>
    >
    > This sounds fishy to me. I've personally worked on SoC designs
    > using only uni-directional busses with various asynchronous
    > peripherals - well before the time this patent was filed. I'd
    > like to see PalmChip try to enforce this patent. The EET article
    > also mentions that FPGAs have been using this kind of technology
    > for a while.
    >
    > Here are some of the "claims" of the patent:
    >
    > "1. An on-chip interconnection system, comprising:
    >
    > a single semiconductor integrated circuit (IC);
    >
    > a plurality of uni-directional buses disposed in the IC;
    >
    > a peripheral-bus (p-bus) included in the plurality of uni-directional
    > buses and that uses a simple non-pipelined protocol and supports both
    > synchronous and asynchronous slave peripherals;
    >
    > a p-bus controller connected to the p-bus and constituting an only
    > bus-master, and including a centralized address decoder for generating
    > a dedicated peripheral select signal, and providing for a connection
    > to synchronous and asynchronous slave peripherals, and further
    > providing for an input/output (I/O) backplane that allows a processor
    > to configure and control any of its slave peripherals; and
    >
    > an m-bus included in the plurality of uni-directional buses, and for
    > providing a direct memory access (DMA) connection from any said slave
    > peripherals to a main memory and permits peripherals to transfer data
    > directly without processor intervention.
    >
    > 2. The on-chip interconnection system of claim 1, wherein, there are
    > included no tri-stated-buses, and no bi-directional buses.
    >
    > 3. The on-chip interconnection system of claim 1, wherein, each signal
    > has only a single buffer driver.
    >
    > 4. The on-chip interconnection system of claim 1, wherein, any
    > broadcast signals are re-driven by simple buffers with no extra
    > control logic."
    Austin Lesea, Aug 5, 2003
    #2
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  3. y_p_w

    Jerry Guest

    (y_p_w) wrote in message news:<>...
    > The URL would be too long. It's patent 6,601,126, and
    > is available at <http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm>


    Congratulations for USPTO: good work, boys! I've heard that the next
    patent in line is: "round device that minimizes friction while moving
    vehicles, a.k.a. wheel", granted for GM, of course...
    Jerry, Aug 5, 2003
    #3
  4. "y_p_w" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > The URL would be too long. It's patent 6,601,126, and
    > is available at <http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm>
    >
    > This sounds fishy to me

    [...]
    >
    > Here are some of the "claims" of the patent:

    [...]

    Sounds an awful lot like the ARM-originated AMBA interconnect
    spec, which has been in the public domain for years.

    Nice reinforcement of my prejudices about patent examiners.
    --
    Jonathan Bromley, Consultant

    DOULOS - Developing Design Know-how
    VHDL * Verilog * SystemC * Perl * Tcl/Tk * Verification * Project Services

    Doulos Ltd. Church Hatch, 22 Market Place, Ringwood, Hampshire, BH24 1AW, UK
    Tel: +44 (0)1425 471223 mail:
    Fax: +44 (0)1425 471573 Web: http://www.doulos.com

    The contents of this message may contain personal views which
    are not the views of Doulos Ltd., unless specifically stated.
    Jonathan Bromley, Aug 5, 2003
    #4
  5. y_p_w

    y_p_w Guest

    Austin Lesea <> wrote in message news:<>...
    > ypw,
    >
    > I, too, have my doubts on this one.
    >
    > Even though you may have used this prior to the patent, that would only
    > allow you to continue using the technique without paying royalties. If no
    > one published or "disclosed" the technique, then the patent could be
    > valid. Hopefully you have a public published document prior to their
    > "discovery"? That would kill it immediately.


    It was fairly obvious. I was working at a processor company that
    integrated an existing core with several external peripherals to
    emulate another processor. We used a lot of unidirectional
    communications with address decoders.

    > Since we have been using unidirectional interconnect since Virtex (about 5
    > years ago now), with soft processor cores, and peripherals, I also believe
    > that we (Xilinx) have a prior use claim. Since we also published that we
    > implemented our "tri-state" buses with unidirectional interconnect in
    > Virtex (as tristates were too slow), it makes this patent pretty dubious
    > for any FPGA application.


    I'm just curious as to whether a soft core implemented in an FPGA would
    be close enough to an SoC to make this patent's claims dubious regardless
    its use in any ASICs.

    > As well, any combination of cores uses single direction buses in Virtex
    > and all subsequent families (for speed).
    >
    > But, if you can not point to a published article describing the technique
    > in an ASIC/ASSP, then they just might "own it."


    The AMBA 2.0 spec was published by ARM in May 1999. There are probably
    several white papers, academic papers, and published web sites that
    outline similar SoC frameworks.
    y_p_w, Aug 5, 2003
    #5
  6. No surprise to me. Some guy out of MIT got a patent for the mechanics of
    the human arm (actually, any articulation-muscle mechanism on any animal on
    earth for the last several billion years).

    Face it, patents are business tools. They have nothing to do with invention
    any more. Very few things any more are inventions, most are
    implementations. Most are things that good engineers should be able to
    produce given a problem and related constraints.

    Oh well.


    --
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Martin Euredjian

    To send private email:

    where
    "0_0_0_0_" = "martineu"




    "Jonathan Bromley" <> wrote in message
    news:bgoku4$sm6$1$...
    > "y_p_w" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    > > The URL would be too long. It's patent 6,601,126, and
    > > is available at <http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/srchnum.htm>
    > >
    > > This sounds fishy to me

    > [...]
    > >
    > > Here are some of the "claims" of the patent:

    > [...]
    >
    > Sounds an awful lot like the ARM-originated AMBA interconnect
    > spec, which has been in the public domain for years.
    >
    > Nice reinforcement of my prejudices about patent examiners.
    > --
    > Jonathan Bromley, Consultant
    >
    > DOULOS - Developing Design Know-how
    > VHDL * Verilog * SystemC * Perl * Tcl/Tk * Verification * Project Services
    >
    > Doulos Ltd. Church Hatch, 22 Market Place, Ringwood, Hampshire, BH24 1AW,

    UK
    > Tel: +44 (0)1425 471223 mail:


    > Fax: +44 (0)1425 471573 Web:

    http://www.doulos.com
    >
    > The contents of this message may contain personal views which
    > are not the views of Doulos Ltd., unless specifically stated.
    >
    >
    >
    Martin Euredjian, Aug 6, 2003
    #6
  7. y_p_w

    y_p_w Guest

    "Martin Euredjian" <> wrote in message news:<4ofYa.15$>...
    > No surprise to me. Some guy out of MIT got a patent for the mechanics of
    > the human arm (actually, any articulation-muscle mechanism on any animal on
    > earth for the last several billion years).


    That actually makes some sense, if the purpose was to create a
    mechanical replica - i.e. prosthetics or a robot arm. This new
    patent would seemingly describe a set of techniques that most
    engineers would never thought of patenting because they were
    (more or less) in the public domain.

    > Face it, patents are business tools. They have nothing to do with invention
    > any more. Very few things any more are inventions, most are
    > implementations. Most are things that good engineers should be able to
    > produce given a problem and related constraints.
    >
    > Oh well.


    I wouldn't have any problems if someone actually took this idea from
    the world of FPGAs - extended it to SoC - and then patent the idea
    before anyone else had used it. However - this doesn't seem to be
    the case.

    I really hope this doesn't turn into the SCO Unix vs Linux fight.
    y_p_w, Aug 7, 2003
    #7
  8. "y_p_w" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > "Martin Euredjian" <> wrote in message

    news:<4ofYa.15$>...
    > > No surprise to me. Some guy out of MIT got a patent for the mechanics

    of
    > > the human arm (actually, any articulation-muscle mechanism on any animal

    on
    > > earth for the last several billion years).

    >
    > That actually makes some sense, if the purpose was to create a
    > mechanical replica - i.e. prosthetics or a robot arm. This new
    > patent would seemingly describe a set of techniques that most
    > engineers would never thought of patenting because they were
    > (more or less) in the public domain.


    Well, not in this case, at least in my opinion. It describes something they
    call "series elastic" actuators. Translation: store energy in a spring (or
    spring-like element) as opposed to having the motors directly drive the
    joint. In other words, a tendon. Using springs to store energy (or control
    force) has been in use for a long, long time, I think.


    --
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Martin Euredjian

    To send private email:

    where
    "0_0_0_0_" = "martineu"
    Martin Euredjian, Aug 7, 2003
    #8
  9. y_p_w

    Brad Eckert Guest

    Austin Lesea <> wrote in message news:<>...
    >
    > I, too, have my doubts on this one.
    >
    > Even though you may have used this prior to the patent, that would only
    > allow you to continue using the technique without paying royalties. If no
    > one published or "disclosed" the technique, then the patent could be
    > valid. Hopefully you have a public published document prior to their
    > "discovery"? That would kill it immediately.
    >

    Does a web site count as published? For example, are the cores at
    Opencores.org considered publicly published because they reside there?
    Brad Eckert, Aug 7, 2003
    #9
  10. y_p_w

    y_p_w Guest

    "Martin Euredjian" <> wrote in message news:<CavYa.85$>...
    > "y_p_w" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    > > "Martin Euredjian" <> wrote in message

    > news:<4ofYa.15$>...
    > > > No surprise to me. Some guy out of MIT got a patent for the mechanics

    > of
    > > > the human arm (actually, any articulation-muscle mechanism on any animal

    > on
    > > > earth for the last several billion years).

    > >
    > > That actually makes some sense, if the purpose was to create a
    > > mechanical replica - i.e. prosthetics or a robot arm. This new
    > > patent would seemingly describe a set of techniques that most
    > > engineers would never thought of patenting because they were
    > > (more or less) in the public domain.

    >
    > Well, not in this case, at least in my opinion. It describes something they
    > call "series elastic" actuators. Translation: store energy in a spring (or
    > spring-like element) as opposed to having the motors directly drive the
    > joint. In other words, a tendon. Using springs to store energy (or control
    > force) has been in use for a long, long time, I think.


    Your average desk lamp comes to mind. Garage door mechanisms are
    spring loaded too - the ones for solid garage door would seem to
    be similar to this "arm" mechanism.
    y_p_w, Aug 8, 2003
    #10
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