Gary Smith EDA Consulting in Electronic Design

Gary Smith EDA (GSEDA) is the leading provider of market intelligence and advisory services for the global Electronic Design Automation (EDA), Electronic System Level (ESL) design, and related technology markets.

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    IC CAD, ARM Techcon & ParCad Review
    IC CAD, ARM Techcon & ParCad Review:
    EDA, GPU, Linux, Parallel Computing & EE Times

    November 8th, 9th & 10th featured three conferences; IC CAD, ARM Techcon and ParCAD, which made for a busy but very interesting week. Just to touch the highlights; IC CAD ran out of printed programs, ARM Techcon featured a new GPU and an open source embedded software effort that should cut the ESL TAM in half (Linaro), and ParCAD proclaimed Parallel computing as just plain hard work.

    IC CAD

    This was not your father’s IC CAD, with sessions on Biological and Post-CMOS Systems, Organic Electronics and Microfluidic Biochips it took a leap into the future. This was a much needed change that produced an upbeat and exciting IC CAD. The keynote by Lucio Lanza was the highlight of the conference. This was by far the best talk I’ve seen Lucio give and all of them have been excellent. The theme was that the EDA Industry is in the doldrums because they have not kept up with Moore’s Law. The spiraling cost of design is a direct result of the lack of automation. Companies have had to throw engineers at the problem to solve it; driving up the cost of design.

    ARM Techcon

    ARM Techcon has become one of the must attend conferences for today’s IC Design and Embedded Software Engineers. With a new conference management team in place it was a well-oiled, fine-tuned conference that was promoted and organized much better than past efforts. This allowed the ARM announcements to stand out as the major achievements that they were.

    Their main announcement was their GPU (Mali-T604). Now that they feature microprocessors, microcontrollers and a graphics processor core the semiconductor world should be aware that, when ARM looks at the processor market, ARM looks at the entire processor market not just one segment.

    The most significant announcement for the EDA Industry was the newest version of the Linaro software and tools. It seems that while we were asleep ARM put together an open source consortium initiative, that includes IBM, Samsung, TI, Freescale, ST-Ericsson, to develop a “free” embedded software Linux tool flow. That should cut the ESL TAM in half. Not that this wasn’t predictable, the EDA vendors had about a five year window to take advantage of a golden opportunity. Too bad they didn’t, but at least the Embedded Software Engineers are happy. It’s interesting that a company the size of ARM developed the best set of multi/many-core embedded tools available today. They are clearly outperforming the market.

    ParCAD

    ParCAD was on Thursday and proved to be very interesting. The subject matter was solid, the interaction with the audience was invigorating and the conclusions were a bit on the scary side. The final panel pretty much summed it up. The panel consisted of:

    Jay Adams, Synopsys
    John Croix, Cadence
    Patrick Groeneveld, Magma
    Uli Finkler, IBM
    Guy Maor, Extreme DA


    Patrick Madden of SUNY was the moderator. Patrick has a history of being the voice (of Sanity) in the wilderness as far as parallel computing is concerned. To summarize the panel parallel computing is hard, very hard. Not only that but most EDA tools are not conducive to parallel efforts, certainly not into the many-core realm. Even to get the three to four times improvement in speed allowed by Amdahl’s Law you must rewrite you algorithms. This means we cannot expect the dramatic gains in productivity we expected out of parallel computing, only the steady improvements we get by developing new algorithms as we have in the past.

    EE Times: Shift in the Wind

    I talked about the improvement in ARM Techcon’s show management. It has been taken over by EE Times and Ron Wilson was doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Not that he didn’t have a good team. Many of the old EE Times people are back and, as the recent additions of EE Times shows, they are making a major impact. Still a couple of rough edges but EE Times has once again become the paper to read. Not only that but they have also taken over the management of DesignCon which should prove to be very interesting. Looks like the design world is getting back the infrastructure it lost.

    To view entire paper, download the PDF here

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