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IoT gathering pace as revolution: Guru Ganesan

August 17, 2014 Comments off

IoT gathering pace as revolution: Guru Ganesan

By 2020, there will be over 8 billion people on our planet. This will also bring tremendous innovations and challenges. ARM has been connecting intelligence at every level, said Guru Ganesan, president and MD, ARM India.

He was delivering the guest keynote at the recently held CDNLive 2014 event in Bangalore, India.

Newer apps are helping connect with the world. As per Gartner, $27 billion worth apps were downloaded in 2013. By 2020, this is estimated to rise to $80 billion.

According to Ganesan, consumer trends are driving innovation in embedded apps, including rich user interface (UI). ARM is also at the heart of wearable technologies, for example, Smart Glasses from Google. Some examples from India include Lechal from Ducere Technologies, GOQ Pi remote fitness companion, Fin+ navigation and device control gesture based device from RHLVision, and Smarty Ring that brings instant smartphone alerts to your fingers from Chennai.

So, what are the key requirements for wearables? These are video/image, audio, display, software, OS, connectivity and battery life! In 2013, over 1 billion smartphones were shipped. Further, mobile data 12 times over between now and 2018.

In medical electronics, besides humans, it has extended to keeping the cattle healthy and have intelligent agriculture with OnFarm, by using sensors. IoT as a revolution is gathering pace. As per a survey conducted by ARM, 95 percent of the users expect to be using IoT over the next three years. Common standards are being developed for interoperability. Similarly, mobility and connectivity are also happening in automotives.

Now, let’s see the development challenges for high-end embedded. Embedded applications today integrate more functions. Consequently, design and verification challenges continue to grow. Further, lot of smart devices are now generating lot of data. The question is: how are we using that data?

Ganesan added that by 2020, there will be new challenges in transportation, healthcare, energy and education. Once devices start communicating with each other, we are likely to see the evolution of a smart infrastructure.

Categories: Semiconductors

Embedded software: Next revolution in EDA


Dr. Wally Rhines.

Dr. Wally Rhines.

There is a key lesson that Mentor Graphics made while trying to deliver solutions that were right for software and hardware developers. The lesson was: tailor the software to the discipline! Make it as similar to their environment as possible!!

Delivering his speech at the ongoing 13th Global Electronics Summit in Santa Cruz, USA, Dr. Wally Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics, said that 15 years of acquisitions taught Mentor how to think and behave as an embedded software company.

Open systems requires active engagement in software committees. Each open source project has some form of governance to manage contributions, release plans, etc. There is a community peer selection process for each open source project. About 50 Mentor Embedded Sourcerers are actively involved in the open source and Android communities.

There is a need to take the advantage of knowing both worlds. Mentor’s Sourcery CodeBench is an embedded C/C++ development tool based on open-source standards. Sourcery CodeBench is a complete development environment for embedded C/C++ development on ARM, Coldfire, MIPS, Power, X86, and other architectures. You can install, flash and debug in minutes!

Sourcery CodeBench
Sourcery CodeBench is now the semiconductor industry’s leading embedded toolchain. There is an integrated development environment. It has the GNU compiler (GCC) and optimization tools. It allows debugging and analysis, libraries and QEMU simulator.

There are about ~15,000 downloads per month. There have been ~150,000 downloads and 300 releases per year.

Intelligent evolution of FPGAs

April 15, 2013 Comments off

Vince Hu.

Vince Hu.

FPGAs serve highly diverse applications. Tailored devices are serving diverging market needs. According to Vince Hu, VP Product & Corporate Marketing, Altera Corp., next-generation portfolio involves an ideal mix of process technologies.

There is greater diversity and capabilities for the broadest range of applications. Finally, Altera has added the 55nm EmbFlash that extends Altera’s tailored approach. Hu was speaking at the 13th Globalpress Electronics Summit being held in Santa Cruz, USA.

Addressing needs of higher-volume systems is key. Industrial and automotive systems tend to be cost sensitive, low power and limited in broad areas. There is an increased pressure to innovate leading to a strong demand for programmable solutions with enhanced features. Altera is expanding the capabilities of non-volatile programmable logic devices (PLDs).

Altera is also bolstering high-volume system solutions. TSMC leading-edge embedded flash technology is a device tailored for high-volume applications. It adds more functionality to non-volatile PLDs. It also re-inforces Altera’s commitment to high-volume applications.

In addressing power/performance challenges, 20SoC is said to be the  quickest path to next-generation process. It is tailored for a range of performance and bandwidth-critical applications. There is up to 60 percent lower power vs. 28nm. One of the latest results with 20SoC  process is the first 32Gbps transceivers that are operating in 20nm silicon.

Currently, high-end applications are pushing the envelope. Intel’s 14nm tri-gate is said to be a game changer for FPGAs. Tri-gate
surrounds channel on the three sides. It increases channel performance and reduces power. Tri-gate is a proven, second- generation technology. The 14nm tri-gate maintains the Moore’s Law.

Driving toward 400G OTN systems
Altera has acquired OTN IP provider TPACK. It accelerates the company’s OTN roadmap and builds on the Avalon acquisition in 2010. OTN IP, combined with high-performance silicon, positions Altera for continued growth in the high-end networking market.

Tailored devices are now serving diverging market needs. It is an extension of Altera’s tailored approach. There are even greater diversity and capabilities, serving the broadest range of applications. A mixture of application-specific IP provides even greater tailored solutions. Altera is mixing the advanced FinFET process, traditional HKMG planar process and embedded flash technology.

Evolution of wireless market and emerging trends: Qualcomm

May 17, 2011 Comments off

Matt Grob, SVP, corporate R&D, Qualcomm.

Matt Grob, SVP, corporate R&D, Qualcomm.

At the ISA CXO Conclave, Matt Grob, SVP, corporate R&D, Qualcomm, said that the company is a world leader in next-generation mobile technologies. It is celebrating 25 years of driving the evolution of wireless communications. It is making wireless more personal, affordable and accessible to people everywhere. Qualcomm is also the world’s largest fabless semiconductor company, #1 in wireless, and #9 in semiconductors.

Qualcomm’s unique business model is to be a technology enabler for the entire mobile value chain. It has continued strategic R&D investments, totalling more than $15.4 billion in 2010.

Industry trends
The 2G to 3G migration is currently taking place, with over 3.1 billion 3G subscriptions likely in 2015.  As for the emerging region growth, China leads with 640 percent, followed by Latin America at 465 percent and India at 168 percent, respectively.

Qualcomm is also said to be enabling the mobile broadband in India with 3G and LTE. Besides growing the LTE TDD ecosystem in region, it is building partnerships for long-term strategy and establishing 3G/LTE as best technology path for operators. Qualcomm is also driving the device evolution and growing the market by creating more choices for operators and consumers. It is developing low-cost 3G handsets for emerging markets using 1+ GHz mobile processors and supporting multiple popular OS.

The smartphone industry momentum has ensured that the ecosystem is benefitting from and driving growth. There has been as much as >25 percent YoY data revenue growth from leading operators. OEMs have launched 100+ new smartphones in the first half of CY 2010. The total mobile apps downloads from developers is likely to move up from 7 billion in 2009 to 50 billion by 2012.

Evolution of various semicon analysts growth forecasts for 2010

June 13, 2010 Comments off

Earlier this month, Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, had provided me with the latest update on forecast results as gleamed from running the Cowan LRA forecasting model incorporating the “actual” April sales.

As a follow-on to his April 2010 global semiconductor forecast numbers, Mike Cowan constructed (and updated) a table (sourced from the GSA website in order to compare the latest 2010 sales growth forecasts from a large number of leading market researchers to his latest sales growth forecast estimate of 33.4 percent.

Notice that for the thirteen (13) yellow-highlighted market researchers shown in the attached table (including mine), 12 of the market watchers have increased their most recent forecast year-over-year sales growths to a range of 22.6 percent to 33.4 percent with a mean sales growth forecast of 28.7 percent (28.4 percent without Cowan’s forecast number).

As revealed in the table, Cowan’s most recent 2010 sales growth forecast estimate is the most bullish of the bunch (at least for this month; stay tuned for my monthly forecast numbers as the year plays out!).

Also note that the just published (last week – June 8 and 10, respectively), WSTS and SIA Spring 2010 forecast sales growth results for 2010 are included in the table.

Source: Cowan's LRA model.

Source: Cowan's LRA model.

DVCon India 2014 aims to bring Indian design, verification and ESL community closer!

September 11, 2014 5 comments

DVCon India 2014 has come to Bangalore, India, for the first time. It will be held at the Hotel Park Plaza in Bangalore, on Sept. 25-26. Dr. Wally Rhines, CEO, Mentor Graphics will open the proceedings with his inaugural keynote.

proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-gBtXKeIK9Ss%2FVBHi1IJxT1I%2FAAAAAAAALYM%2FfSqqoFgTuas%2Fs1600%2Fdvconindia2014logo2.png&container=blogger&gadget=a&rewriteMime=image%2F*Other keynotes will be from Dr. Mahesh Mehendale, MCU chief technologist, TI, Janick Bergeron, verification fellow, Synopsys, and Vishwas Vaidya, assistant GM, Electronics, Tata Motors.

Gaurav Jalan, SmartPlay, chair – promotions committee took time to speak about DVCon 2014 India.

Focus of DVCon 2014 India

First, what’s the focus of DVCon 2014 India? According to Jalan, DVCon has been a premiere conference in the US contributing to quality tutorials, papers and an excellent platform for networking. DVCON India focuses on filling the void of a vendor neutral quality conference in the neighbourhood – one that will grow over time.

The idea is to bring together, hitherto dispersed, yet substantial, design, verification and ESL community and give them a voice. Engineers get a chance to learn solutions to the verification problems, share the effectiveness of the solutions they have experimented, understand off the shelf solutions that are available in market and meet the vendor agnostic user fraternity. Moving forward the expectation is to get the users involved as early adopters of upcoming standards and actively contribute to them.

Trends in design

Next, what are the trends today in design? Jalan said while the designs continue to parade on the lines of Moore’s law there is a lot happening beyond the mere gate count. Defining and developing IPs with a wide configuration options serving a variety of application domains is a challenge.

The SoCs are crossing multi billion gate design (A8 in iPhone6 is 2 billion) with multi-fold increase in complexity due to multiple clock domains, multiple power domains, multiple voltage domains while delivering required performance in different application modes with sleek foot print.

Trends in verification

Now, let’s examine the trends today in verification. When design increases linearly, verification jumps exponentially. While UVM has settled dust to some extent on the IP verification level, there is a huge of challenges still awaiting to be addressed. The IP itself is growing in size limiting the simulator and encouraging users to move to emulators. While UVM solved the methodology war the VIPs available are still not simulator agnostic and expecting a emulator agnostic VIP portfolio is still a distant dream.

SoC verification is still a challenge not just due to the sheer size but because porting an env from block to SoC is difficult. The test plan definition and development for SoC level itself is a challenge. Portable stimulus group from Accellera is addressing this.

Similarly, coverage collection from different tools is difficult to merge. Unified coverage group at Accellera is addressing this. Low power today is a norm and verifying a power aware design is quite challenging. UPF is an attempt to standardize this.

Porting a SoC to emulator to enable hardware acceleration so as to run usecases is another trend picking up. Teams now are able to boot android on an SoC even before the silicon arrives. With growing analog content on chip the onus is on the verification engineers to ensure the digital and analog sides of the chip work in conjunction as per specs. Formal apps have picked so as to address connectivity tests, register spec testing, low power static checks and many more.

Accelearating EDA innovation

So, how will EDA innovation get accelerated? According to Jalan, the semiconductor industry has always witnessed that startups and smaller companies lead the innovation. Given the plethora of challenges around, there are multiple opportunities to be addressed from both the biggies and the start-ups.

The evolution of standards at Accellera definitely is a great step so as to bring the focus on real innovation in the tools while providing a platform for the user community to come forward sharing the challenges and proposing alternates. With a standard baseline that is defined with collaboration from all partners of the ecosystem, the EDA companies can focus on competing on performance, user interface, increased tool capacity and enabling faster time to market.

Forums like DVCON India help in growing awareness on standard promoted by Accellera while encouraging participants from different organizations and geographies join to contribute. Apart from tools areas where EDA innovation would pick up include new IT technologies and platforms – Cloud, Mobile devices.

Next level of verification productivity

Where is the next level of verification productivity likely to come from? To this, Jalan replied that productivity in the verification improves from different aspects.

While faster tools with increased capacity comes from innovation at EDA end, standard have played an excellent role in addressing it. UVM has helped in displacing vendor specific technologies to improve inter-operability, quick ramp up for engineers and reusability. Similarly on power format, UPF has played an important role in bridging the gaps.

Unified coverage is another aspect where it will help in closing early with coverage driven verification. IPXACT and SystemRDL standards help further in packaging IPs and easier hand off to enable reuse. Similarly other standards on ESL, AMS etc help in closing the loop holes that prevent productivity.

New, portable stimulus specification now being developed under Accellera that will help in easing out test development at different levels from IP to sub system to SoC. For faster simulations, the increase in adoption of hardware acceleration platforms is helping verification engineers to improve regression turn around time.

Formal technologies play an important role in providing a mathematical proofs to common verification challenges at an accelerated pace in comparison to simulation. Finally events like DVCON enables users to share their experiences and knowledge encouraging others to try out solutions instead of struggling with the process of discovering or inventing one.

More Indian start-ups

Finally, do the organizers expect to see more Indian start-ups post this event? Yes, says Jalan. “We even have a special incubation booth that is encouraging young startups to come forth and exhibit at a reduced cost (only $300). We are creating a platform and soon we will see new players in all areas of Semiconductor.

“Also, the Indian government’s push in the semiconductor space will give new startups further incentive to mushroom. These conferences help entrepreneurs to talk to everyone in the community about problems, vet potential solutions and seek blessings from gurus.”

Categories: Semiconductors

Apple continues to ‘wow’ all over again!

September 9, 2014 4 comments

Apple iPhone6

Apple iPhone6

Apple has done it again! Trust the Cupertino-based company to come up with great products — time after time, after time!

Today, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have been announced! These were followed quickly by announcements regarding the Apple Watch and Apple Pay.

The phones have 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch Retina HD displays, and packed with innovative technologies in an all-new dramatically thin and seamless design. Also, they are engineered to be the thinnest ever. Both models run on the all-new A8 chip and include iOS 8, the very latest version!

The Apple Pay now allows a very easy way to securely pay for physical goods and services in stores or apps with the touch of a finger. You can pay securely and conveniently in stores by holding the phone near the contactless reader and keeping a finger on Touch ID. There is absolutely no need to unlock your iPhone or launch an app!

The Apple Watch introduces a specially designed and engineered Digital Crown that provides an innovative way to scroll, zoom and navigate. It is Apple’s most revolutionary navigation tool since the iPod Click Wheel and iPhone Multi-Touch.

Analysys Mason believes that smartwatches will become the dominant wearable smart device by sales in early 2017, and that, Apple will drive this market. Analysys Mason also feels that Apple has an advantage in the race for mobile commerce and payments dominance.

IHS reports that Apple rarely invents new markets, despite its reputation. But when Apple launches a new product category, it attempts to redefine the market. Apple Pay may also get introduced internationally as soon as possible.

Categories: Semiconductors

Diverse requirements for IoT evolving: Charlie Huang

August 20, 2014 Comments off

According to Charlie Huang, senior VP, Worldwide Field Operations and System & Verification Group, Cadence, today, we are talking about tremendous data growth. Mobile has been driving the growth of semiconductors, besides medical, industrial, consumer and automotive electronics as well. Trends are also driving disruptive opportunities — from driving growth in China to growth in India. He was delivering the keynote on day two at the CDNLive 2014 in Bangalore, India.

"We can innovate to build things that are yet to be imagined. Greater things are yet to come for the Indian semicon design opportunities.

"Today, the iPad has become a system of systems. Now, everyone is waiting for the next big thing. People are also talking about the IoT. Everything will get revolutionized by the newer SoCs. Diverse requirements for IoT have been evolving. There are development challenges from all directions. More functions also means that more IP cores need to be integrated and verified. The IP cores per SoC is likely to be 123 in 14nm, from 108 in 20/22nm. The complexity is just unimaginable!

"Eighty percent of SoC development costs come from software, verification and validation. We should now look at innovating software design with SoC design.

Cadence has invested substantially in IP. It enables system design enablement from end product down to chip level. System-level design with high level synthesis is used to shorten the development cycle and get better quality of results (QoR).

Categories: Semiconductors

How Intel competes on today’s fabless ecosystem?


The SEMI/Gartner Market Symposium was held Semicon West 2014 at San Francisco, on July 7. Am grateful to Ms. Becky Tonnesen, Gartner, and Ms Agnes Cobar, SEMI, for providing me the presentations. Thanks are also due to Ms Deborah Geiger, SEMI.

Dean Freeman, research VP, Gartner, outlined the speakers:

• Sunit Rikhi, VP, Technology and Manufacturing Group, GM, Intel Custom Foundry Intel, presented on Competing in today’s Fabless Ecosystem.

• Bob Johnson, VP Research, Gartner, presented the Semiconductor Capital Spending Outlook.

• Christian Gregor Dieseldorff, director Market Research, SEMI, presented the SEMI World Fab Forecast: Analysis and Forecast for Fab Spending, Capacity and Technology.

• Sam Wang, VP Research Analyst, Gartner, presented on How Foundries will Compete in a 3D World.

• Jim Walker, VP Research, Gartner, presented on Foundry versus SATS: The Battle for 3D and Wafer Level Supremacy.

• Dr. Dan Tracy, senior director, Industry Research & Statistics, SEMI, presented on Semiconductor Materials Market Outlook.

Let’s start with Sunit Rikhi at Intel.

As a new player in the fabless eco-system, Intel focuses on:
* The value it brings to the table.
* How it delivers on platforms of capability and services.
* How it leverage the advantages of being inside the world’s leading Integrated Device Manufacturer (IDM)
* How it face the challenges of being inside the world’s leading IDM.

Intel sunit-rikhiIntel has leadership in silicon technologies. Transistor performance per watt is the critical enabler for all. Density improvements offset wafer cost trends. Intel currently has ~3.5-year lead in introducing revolutionary transistor technologies.

In foundry capabilities and services platforms, Intel brings differentiated value on industry standard platforms. 22nm was started in 2011, while 14nm was started in 2013. 10nm will be starting in 2015. To date, 125 prototype designs have been processed.

Intel offers broad capability and services on industry standard platforms. It also has fuller array of co-optimized end-to-end services. As for the packaging technology, Intel has been building better products through
multi-component integration. Intel has also been starting high on the yield learning curve.

Regarding IDM challenges, such as high-mix-low-volume configuration, Intel has been doing configuration optimization in tooling and set-up. It has also been separating priority and planning process for customers. Intel has been providing an effective response for every challenge.

Some of Intel Custom Foundry announced customers include Achronix, Altera, Microsemi, Netronome, Panasonic and Tabula.

Set up strong methodology teams to create better verification infrastructure: Synopsys

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Arindam Ghosh

Arindam Ghosh

This is the third installment on verification, now, taken up by Synopsys. Regarding the biggest verification mistakes today, Arindam Ghosh, director – Global Technical Services, Synopsys India, attributed these as:

* Spending no time on verification planning (not documenting what needs to be verified) and focusing more on running simulations or on execution.
* No or very low investment in building better verification environments (based on best/new methodologies and best practices); instead maintaining older verification environments.
* Compromising on verification completeness because of tape out pressures and time-to-market considerations.

Would you agree that many companies STILL do not know how to verify a chip?

He said that it could be true for smaller companies or start-ups, but most of the major semiconductor design engineers know about the better approaches/methodologies to verify their chips. However, they may not be investing in implementing the new methodologies for multiple reasons and may instead continue to follow the traditional flows.

One way to address these mistakes would be to set up strong methodology teams to create a better verification infrastructure for future chips. However, few companies are doing this.

Are companies realizing this and building an infrastructure that gets you business advantage? He added that some companies do realize this and are investing in building a better infrastructure (in terms of better methodology and flows) for verification.

When should good verification start?
When should good verification start — after design; as you are designing and architecting your design environment? Ghosh said that good verification starts as soon as we start designing and architecting the design. Verification leads should start discussing the verification environment components with the lead architect and also start writing the verification plan.

Are folks mistaking by looking at tools and not at the verification process itself? According to him, tools play a major role in the effectiveness of any verification process, but we still see a lot of scope in methodology improvements beyond the tools.

What all needs to get into verification planning as the ‘right’ verification path is fraught with complexities? Ghosh said that there is no single, full-proof recipe for a ‘right’ verification path. It depends on multiple factors, including whether the design is a new product or derivative, the design application etc. But yes, it is very important to do comprehensive verification planning before starting the verification process.

Synopsys is said to be building a comprehensive, unified and integrated verification environment is required for today’s revolutionary SoCs and would offer a fundamental shift forward in productivity, performance, capacity and functionality.  Synopsys’ Verification Compiler provides the software capabilities, technology, methodologies and VIP required for the functional verification of advanced SoC designs in one solution.

Verification Compiler includes:
* Better capacity and compile and runtime performance.
* Next-generation static and formal technology delivering performance improvement and the capacity to analyze a complete SoC (Property checking, LP, CDC, connectivity).
* Comprehensive low power verification solution.
* Verification planning and management.
* Next-generation verification IP and a deep integration between VIP and the simulation engine, which in turn can greatly improve productivity.  The constraint engine is tuned for optimal performance with its VIP library. It has integrated debug solutions for VIP so one can do protocol-level analysis and transaction-based analysis with the rest of the testbench.
* Support for industry standard verification methodologies.
* X-propagation simulation with both RTL and low power simulations.
* Common debug platform with better debug technology having new capabilities, tight integrations with simulation, emulation, testbench, transaction debug, power-aware debug , hw/sw debug, formal, VIP and coverage.

Top five recommendations for verification
What would be Synopsys’ top five recommendations for verification?

* Spend a meaningful amount of time and effort on verification planning before execution.
* Continuously invest in building a better verification infrastructure and methodologies across the company for better productivity.
* Collaborate with EDA companies to develop, evaluate and deploy new technologies and flows, which can bring more productivity to verification processes.
* Nurture fresh talent through regular on and off-the-job trainings (on flows, methodologies, tools, technology).
* Conduct regular reviews of the completed verification projects with the goal of trying to improve the verification process after every tapeout through methodology enhancements.

Categories: Semiconductors
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