Tuesday, May 4, 2010

EDA360 to help integrators close profitability gap

Cadence Design Systems laid out its EDA360 vision last week -- what it says is 'a new vision for the semiconductor industry'.

The EDA360 vision paper says: "Today, systems and semiconductor companies are undergoing a disruptive transformation so profound that even the best-known companies will be impacted. The EDA industry now stands at a crossroads where it also must change in order to continue as a successful, independent business. Without that change, EDA will become a fragmented industry offering suboptimal, poorly targeted solutions that fail to solve customer problems. As a result, the huge leap forward provided by the electronics revolution will come to a standstill. The result? A squandered opportunity for technology innovation, and a diminished contribution by the electronics industry to re-build the global economy."

You can download the vision paper from eda360.com, if you like!

What is EDA360?
Now, what exactly is the EDA360? The EDA 360 is a five-year vision for acknowledging the trends in the EDA industry that we are observing in the marketplace and looks at how EDA can add value in the future.

The vision paper is essentially looking at where EDA should be heading over the next five years.

The four chapters of the EDA360 are:
* EDA industry focus shifts to integration and profitability;
* Application-driven system realization;
* Software-aware SoC realization; and
* EDA360 enables silicon realization.

Why is the EDA industry at crossroads?
If you look at the evoliution in the electronic design world, application-level system design has been happening. Software is becoming a very important part in the scheme of things. The hardware companies are being asked to provide the hardware platform as well as the software that will run on that particular platform. So, this is an ongoing evolution.

The EDA industry to date has only served the needs of the creators. It has almost completely ignored integrators, who need a different set of tools and capabilities. So, how can the EDA360 go about achieving this?

When one says that the EDA industry has so far only served the needs of the creators, It is only a reflection of the evolution of the industry. The fundamental manner in which electronic design is being done is now changing. While it is shifting, it also takes a while to understand the entire paradigm. The industry is also moving toward IP re-use, etc., -- those are all the shifts.

The industry is now said to be looking at a new paradigm: integration ready IP. What the vision paper does: it takes the industry to where it is heading and tells this is what's needed. This is what the integrators will need in the future.

Bridging the profitability gap!
The EDA360 also talks about the growing “profitability gap” in the electronics industry that has rarely been discussed.

The 'profitability gap' in the electronics industry is a reflection of the evolution. EDA largely focuses on the engineering community -- who in turn, are worried about their productivity. Going forward, there is a definitely a need to bridge the profitability gap. The EDA360 acknowledges the importance of the overall ecosystem.

The paper says the industry must create, integrate and optimize for profitability at the end. It notes: "Closing the productivity gap requires innovative and differentiated capabilities in design, verification, and implementation. EDA 360 needs to deliver the following capabilities to close the productivity gap." These capabilities are:
* Design for productivity.
* Verify for productivity.
* Implement for productivity.

The EDA industry also needs to respond to support application-driven system realization. An example is the Android from Google. System integation is all in the context of the application. For instance, there's a need for application development kits, drivers, etc.

EDA 360 dashboard
Part of EDA360 is providing new tools that offer a “dashboard” to help companies manage system development projects, and provide metrics that make sense in hardware and software engineering environments.

Now, designers are familiar with Cadence's methodologies. There is something called the V veriification) Manager. One of the biggest problems that verification teams contend with is: have they done enough verification and whether the product is ready to go! This is a closed loop approach to that particular problem. All the tools are working together, and everything is integrated.

Open integration platform
Chapter 3 of the EDA360 talks about the open intergration platform at highest level and optimized IP.

The paper says: "Instead of thinking of IP as isolated “blocks,” we propose an IP stack that includes “bare-metal software” as well as hardware IP. Bare-metal software refers to everything below the OS layer, and the most prominent feature of bare-metal software is device drivers. The IP stack depicted below also includes verification IP (VIP) that validates IP functionality and integration. The stack may include hard macros with fixed layouts along with synthesizable IP at the register-transfer level or the transaction-level modeling (TLM) level. It also includes design constraints."

The same chapter also talks about the open integration platform. It says that SoC integration involves three key steps:
* Analyze the architecture.
* Develop or source integration-optimized IP.
* Integrate IP to realize the SoC.

Enabling silicon realization
The last chapter talks about how the EDA360 enables silicon realization. According to this chapter, the three concepts to silicon realization are:
* Merge top-down design and bottom-up design.
* Raise the level of abstraction.
* Apply unified design intent.

The vision paper concludes, saying: "The newer challenge is helping integrators close the profitability gap. Here, EDA 360 will provide solutions that make IP re-use easier, allow “iterative correctness,” optimize cost, and manage change across external suppliers and internal teams."

Well, this is an entirely Cadence's initiative. The industry is quite likely to see over a period of time that the EDA360 will be backed up by several announcements. Cadence is said to already have a partnership with Wind River, and more announcements will likely happen this week.

It makes one wonder whether the other EDA companies have such vision papers, and most importantly, should not all of them be working together taking the EDA industry several notches higher in the future.

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