Cars, Phones, System Verification, Managing EDA Tools, Cadence and Forte, Wearables

Reviews of and opinions on what I think are the most interesting stories of this week.

* Junko Yoshida’s article "3 Google Moves Signal End of Smartphone Era" is a very interesting discussion that correctly position a communication device within the IoT system. Personally I was never in love with my smartphone and used it for necessary functions, not as a gaming device for example. I believe the smartphone will be replaced by a system containing a number of peripherals whose total volume will be less than the present smartphone’s.

* Although this piece was published last week it has already been re-published this week, so it qualifies for my review. "The Rise of Application-Driven Design and the Move Beyond EDA" by Chris Rowen aims to introduce a new business style for EDA. I would like to point out that ASIC stands for Application Specific Integrated Circuit. The fact that the "app" now contains a significant amount of software does not change the fact that the end product is still an ASIC. The term "app" does not connote anything new, it is just an abbreviation for application. Process technology in the late 80’s and early 90’s did not yield CPU’s fast enough to allow software centric solutions. Thus software was replaced by hardware. But now executing units are fast enough, thus engineers use a more flexible tool, called software (actually firmware). What is changing is that we must verify a system, not just the hardware. Yes we need to verify things differently, but is this really a new business model?

* DAC has a new Automotive Systems and Software track and, in DAC’s style, it also has a keynote address. A couple of months ago my wife and I leased a new Lincoln MKZ hybrid. The car practically drives itself. For example it knows how to stay in a lane, it knows when the car ahead is slowing down and reduces the speed accordingly, and it parallel parks itself. The car has so many features that Ford offers two classes to new owners about them. Each owner also gets access to a web site so that it can learn about them.
James Buczkowski, Henry Ford Technical Fellow of Ford Motor Company, and Jim Tung, MathWorks Fellow of MathWorks, Inc., will keynote the Automotive Systems and Software Track. Buczkowski and Tung will explore the key trends shaping the future of automobiles and examine what it will take to design the electronics that will power automation. So, if you are not driving an intelligent car, go hear how much more intelligent they will be just a few years from now. For my part, I rather have a Ferrari that still answers to my decisions, and does so with enthusiasm!
Find the complete information on DAC home page

* The latest issue of the Zuken Blog has the intriguing title of: "Managing EDA Tools in a Global Design Environment – Part 1". I found it worth while reading. The first four lines say it all:

If you are responsible for the configuration and management of an EDA environment you already know this is a tremendously critical role.

- It’s more than just an assemblage of tool executables.

- The underlying configuration files and CAD library affects all system operations.

So, if you manage the configuration files or the CAD library incorrectly you will quickly become acquainted with the term “career limiting move”.
You can find the entire blog here.

* Cadeence has acquired Forte Design Systems. The official press release states:" Driven by increasing IP complexity and the need for rapid retargeting of IP to derivative architectures, the high-level synthesis market segment has grown beyond early adopters toward mainstream adoption, as design teams migrate from hand-coded RTL design to SystemC-based design and verification. The addition of Forte's synthesis and IP products to the Cadence C-to-Silicon Compiler offering will enable Cadence to further drive a SystemC standard flow for design and multi-language verification." As per my remarks about Chris Rowen's viewpoint, this is a blatant example of the need to move EDA to higher level of abstraction. Such focus will empower system companies to concentrate on the application platform and leave the RTL to silicon transition to a more automatic flow. Creativity then moves from how good one is at optimizing gates to designers ability to implement efficiently the product's requirements. Read the press release here.

* Caroline Hayes in her latest Deeper View piece interviews Tony Zarola of Analog Devices and Robert Thompson of Freescale about Intel's "Make it Wearable" challenge. It is a very interesting read that you can find here.