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Heterogeneous Design Creating Havoc With Firmware Versions

April 01, 2019 / ED SPERLING

Adding different kinds of processing elements into chips is creating system-level incompatibilities because of sometimes necessary, but usually uncoordinated, firmware updates from multiple vendors. In the past, firmware typically was synchronized with other firmware and the chip was verified and debugged. But this becomes much more difficult when multiple heterogeneous processing elements are introduced into the design for applications such as AI and networking infrastructure. Rather than updating firmware for a single type of processor, there are now multiple different processors, each with their own firmware updates for everything from performance and power to security.