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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    EDP 2011

    EDP 2011

    It’s really nice to sit in a presentation about Cloud Computing that isn’t a marketing presentation. A presentation from engineers, for engineers, that looks at the pros and cons of the technology and put the market in its proper perspective. EDP 2011 had three of them. It’s also nice to have an entire session on 3D ICs that take the same approach. That’s why I come back to EDP every year.

    Parallel Programing Breakthroughs
    This year’s talks on Parallel Computing focused on EDA tools. What was exciting is that we are now making breakthroughs at the algorithmic level. In 2009 we hit a wall. We had done what we could before running into Amdahl’s Law. In 2010 we started working on the hard stuff. Now we are seeing results. Now that we have a better understanding of the problem, we are having better luck modifying existing code into a parallel architecture. Most interesting is that we are seeing breakthroughs in parallel algorithmic development. This is what Gene Amdahl was talking about when he said we would have to rewrite the algorithms. Once application developers fully understand the problem we can expect major advances in their parallel algorithms. EDA is at that point now, perhaps the first application area to reach that point. This is what we do; this is what we have always done; develop state-of-the-art algorithms.

    An Honest Look at Cloud Computing
    I have considered Cloud Computing to be in bubble mode; promising everything and it’s free, so it was nice to get a reality check on the technology. James Colgan gave a good talk on how the Cloud can be used by EDA vendors. Xuropa has always had a realistic view of the Cloud’s opportunities. He promotes both a marketing use of the cloud and adoption by the Long Tail of EDA users. Naresh Sehgal and Ed Grochowski of Intel talked about using an internal Cloud for design. Ed’s talk favored the typical Semiconductor client server approach where the big compute jobs are sent out to the Cloud while most of the work is still done on the engineer’s desk top. Latency is a big problem using only the Cloud. One thing that dawned on me, while watching the presentations, is that the promoters of the Cloud are all assuming that we will continue to use SMP, or homogeneous multi-processing; the PC model of computing. More and more technologists are looking at the cell phone model of AMP, or heterogeneous multi-processing. If that becomes the norm that favors the in-house, or EDA vendor’s Cloud model rather that the generic Amazon type of a Cloud.

    3D IC is Progressing
    Although there is still some talk of seven high stacks of logic chips or ten high stacks with logic, analog, RF and memory chips, reality is that 2 1/2D is the norm with memory stacked on logic and analog and RF chips separate on an interposer. We are still waiting for TSV (Through Silicon Vias) to be practical and the general thought is that will come around 2014 or 2015. (Mary wrote a Research Viewpoint “3D Packaging Rises to the Level of Silicon” on 3D ICs.) My feeling is that 3D IC will take over the Moore’s Law job from plain old CMOS sometime in the next decade but will be a gap filler until spintronics, or something else talks over. Others think that 3D will last longer. Since I usually take the optimistic view on new technology, I won’t argue.

    Conclusion
    All in all another great EDP. My keynote is up on the EDP website and I have an annotated version on my website . I also have put up the answer to the question, “What is Bell’s Law” along with some other Tricks, Tips and Best Practices for Semiconductor Design Methodology. Hopefully we can start collecting more of these as a resource for future Design Methodologist.

    To view entire paper, download the PDF here

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