Saturday, October 30, 2010

EDA 360 : Realizing what it is?

A vision paper released by Cadence in early 2010 created a BUZZ in the EDA community. The hot topic of this year’s CDNLive 2010 is EDA360. Here is a summary on this topic in a 3 part series which concludes with what EDA360 brings to our plate as a verification engineer.
Cadence has a history of creating a wave (with whatever it does) so much that it kind of enters into the DNA of the Cadence guys and the people associated. In past, when Cadence released Low Power CPF solution, my team was invited for a technical brief on the solution at Cadence premises. By that time we had heard a lot about CPF from the Sales, AEs and friends working for Cadence but we were amazed when, while we were completing the formalities to enter their building, the security guard asked if we were there to discuss Low power! I am sure this time if someone visits he would be asking for EDA360 J
For many years semiconductor industry has been religiously following Moore’s Law.  With few defined nodes to shrink size, exponential increase in cost of silicon at advance nodes, saturation in SOC architecture for a given application, time to market challenges and shriveling market window for any product, there is a need to CHANGE the way every entity associated with this industry has been operating.  With software claiming majority of product cost, the innovation and differentiation revolves more around end user applications (apps). This demands a SHIFT in the ‘traditional approach’ of developing HW, OS, SW and APPS serially, to an ‘application driven model’ where, definition of a complete platform enables HW & SW development in parallel. Recent success of iPhone (Hardware dependent platform) and Android (Hardware independent platform) over conventional players demonstrates the changing dynamics of the market. This calls for a HOLISTIC ADJUSTMENT among the partners in this ecosystem.
EDA360 is a potential answer to this CHANGE, this SHIFT and this HOLISTIC ADJUSTMENT. It addresses the need for all stakeholders in the ecosystem with the goal of improving the 3Ps (Productivity, Predictability and Profitability) for the 4th P i.e. the Product. It is an ambitious attempt to connect the product development chain by understanding the customer’s customer (the end customer). Focusing on the ‘consumer’, EDA360 preaches a top down i.e. application driven approach for product development by highlighting the grey areas in the present model and how the new model can help weed out the inefficiencies of the ecosystem thereby improving the 3Ps.
Who does what?
It starts with re-classification of the developers into –
1.  Creators – Organizations that will keep innovating silicon with the goal for better performance, low power and small die size. These teams would be constantly feeding silicon capacity and following Moore’s law. With minimal contribution towards end product differentiation, to be productive & profitable only a handful of such companies can survive.
2.  Integrators – Organizations that will optimally integrate the products from creators to actualize the end product. They would stick to mature process nodes and define application focused platforms (software stack) to serve the application needs with the goal to meet quality, cost and time to market. 
How it will be done?
To achieve the end goal, EDA360 brings forward 3 important capabilities –
-          System Realization
-          SOC Realization
-          Silicon Realization
Semiconductor industry is at a juncture where certain critical decisions become inevitable. As Charles Darwin pointed out in the Theory of Evolution – “Beneficial genetic mutations are part of random mutations occurring within an organism and are preserved because they aid survival. These mutations are passed on to the next generation where an accumulated effect results in an entirely different organism adapted to the changes in environment”. Hopefully EDA360 rolls out in a series of such mutations bringing out the much desired and demanded change essential for evolution of our industry.

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