Dr. Wally Rhines: Watch out for 14/16nm technologies in 2014!

December 6, 2013

Dr. Wally RhinesIt is always a pleasure speaking with Dr. Walden (Wally) C. Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics Corp. The last time I met him was at Santa Cruz, USA, during a global electronics forum in April this year. First, I asked him regarding the outlook for the global semiconductor industry in 2014, as well as the EDA industry.

Outlook for global semicon industry in 2014
Dr. Rhines said: “The outlook for the global semicon industry in 2014 is modestly positive. Most analysts will see single digiit growth. In memory, we have short supply vs. demand. While we had consolidation of the wireless industry, we still have volumes of handsets, tablets, etc. In the US, tablets are said to be the biggest growth area during Xmas.

“When you look at any product, you look at what more can it do. You look at more and more features that can be added. We have speciallization in ARM-based chips. There are enough change dynamics that show demand. The iPad bridged the gap between the portable PC and phone. The infrastructure of apps has now made a huge infrastructure. If you are dependant on apps, there can be a differentiator.

“Wearable electronics is another great opportunity. However, it is still a small market. The electronic watch is interesting. We are in an era where there are some things that are key, and some require figuring out. There will be more and more need for specific devices, rather than only applications in future. The same thing was with the PC, which went from custom to specific needs.”

In that case, how is the global semiconductor industry performing having entering the sub 20nm era?

He said that 2014 is going to be a big year. There will be releases of 14/16nm technologies. This will be the year when customers will be doing tests. There are companies in all regions of the world that will be doing such stuff.

Have FinFETs gone to 20nm? Are those looking for power reduction now benefiting?

Dr. Rhines said: “The big advantage is leakage. FinFET dramatically impacts current leakage. Now, attention will shift to dynamic power. It will once again be predominantly the consumer of power in large chips.

Outlook for EDA industry
Now, let’s see what’s the outlook for the global EDA industry in 2014.

Dr. Rhines said: “Whenever you create new technologies, you will need EDA. So, EDA will grow. New designs will also need EDA. There will be new EDA tools. EDA is now addressing thermal and stress issues in verification and design. Caliber PERC is our main product here. The upgrades are good for EDA. There are new things they have to adopt, in these tools.”

Let’s talk a bit about embedded. Mentor released the new version of Sourcery CodeBench. What does it stand to gain?

Raghu Panicker, sales director, Mentor Graphics India said the Sourcery CodeBench is a real-time operating system (RTOS). That product is gaining momentum. Large MNC customers like Qualcomm are adopting this. Among small firms, there are medical, energy meter companies that are handling it as well.

Dr. Rhines added that Sorcery CodeBench is indicative of a trend – it is very open source based. It is now 20,000 downloads a month, so that is a big community.

Next is there any scope for the growth of biomems and optical telecom industry?

He said that both areas are interesting. Biomems are still a fairly small market. It is going to be evolutionary. As for optical telecom, over the last year or two, all participants have gone into a silent mode. Mentor is working with a number of customers.

Five trends to rule in 2014
Now, it was quiz time. First, the top five trends in the EDA industry during 2014. Dr. Rhines said:
* Growth of emulation for verification. The market is growing at over CAGR of 25 percent. Emulation is really big. It will be a big game changer for EDA.
* 16/14nm.
* Continued pressure on power as we go to FinFETs.
* Power reduction.
* Yield analysis for 14/16nm. A near range can be security.

Now, the top five trends for semiconductors in 2014! Dr. Rhines mentioned these as:
* Move to 14/16nm and cost.
* Growth in hybrid functions is another trend.
* Basic IoT.
* Security – how you verify designs.
* Continued commoditization of wireless apps.

Saving closure time
How can folks save closure time and boost performance by incorporating knowledge of physically-aware design early into your front-end design implementation flow?

Dr. Rhines said: “You need to do more things in parallel, and faster. Emulation has become popular. You can do embedded development faster. You can also do timing closure. There are other things – there are fixed things in design that won’t change. There is a need to do more trade-offs in design and do work parallely, than serially.”

What’s with the ‘Connected’ car?
Connected car networking technologies are said to be getting importance. What is state of their hardware and software development?

For the connected car, traditional protocols are inefficient. In the connected car, collision avoidance is going to be a very big thing. By 2015, there will be key things added. BMW is connected to Amazon via 3G. We are using connected networks.

Dr. Rhines added: “I would like to see third parties to write apps that can help cars. However, the automotive OEMs are concerned about losing control of their vehicles. They also don’t want to be locked out. They see a dramatic move to open source, especially to infotainment.

“Audio is the first thing. Children in backseats want videos. These people are all tied into GENIVI.” GENIVI is a non-profit industry alliance committed to driving the broad adoption of an in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) open-source development platform.

Finally, let’s look at the status of 3D ICs. How is Mentor helping with true 3D stacking integration?

Dr. Rhines said: “We got involved in 3D ICs very early. We developed tools to solve problems. We have designs for test products that are in the market for some time. Now, the challenge is to get people to do multi-die 3D designs.”

SMEs in India
Lastly, a look at the SMEs in India. What’s happening at that front?

Dr. Rhines said: “The number of fabless start-ups has been declining worldwide, but India has held up well. A cottage of IP creators has come up, and that’s where India has come up. India is a great place for AMS, power devices, etc. A capability to do embedded hardware and software design is also important. India has proficiencies in both.”

Panicker added: “We have seen an increase in the resources in India by 35 percent. There are a couple of great companies.”

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