Last week, Synopsys Chairman of the Board and CEO Aart de Geus gave a keynote at the Semico Summit in Scottsdale. His topics were “Techonomics,” collaboration, and systemic complexity. Techonomics is de Geus’ name for the fusion of technology and business economics. As former EETimes publisher and editor Girish Mhatre used to say back in the 1980s, “Business and technology are inextricably intertwined.”
Then de Geus stated that we are entering the decade of Smart everything, meaning that everything is going to be connected to the Internet and the behavior of all electronic devices will increasingly be governed by information gleaned from the Net. He said the first behavior being shaped by the Net was our kids, who learn how to use new apps within hours of their release and who change their behavior accordingly. “Sensors,” said de Geus, “are our next kids.” He also mentioned that all of this increased Smart behavior was consuming network bandwidth at a faster and faster clip and that “there’s nothing better than video for clogging networks.” With these statements, de Geus is agreeing wholeheartedly with the EDA360 vision of an apps-driven world. It’s no longer the shiny technology (GHz, Gbytes, Gbps) in the public spotlight, it’s what you can do with that shiny new technology. Such has not always been the case. Back in the 1980s, people bought personal computers based on processor clock rate. Now, you’ve got to work hard to even discover what a PC’s processors are clocked at.
Times have changed. “Apps generate most of the money,” said de Geus.
“The iPad has changed everything,” he said. The day before the iPad was announced, pundits said there would be no market for it. A year later, there are more than 100 competitors. That’s one example of how behavior changes with the introduction of Smart devices and how important apps are to a product’s success.
Next, de Geus turned his attention to what he called “Systemic Complexity.” The output of a system is not based on the sum of all the efforts that go into it. They’re based on the product. If one effort results in zero progress, the total output for the entire system is zero. “Collaboration is not a nice thing,” said de Geus, “it’s a must.” Again, this statement closely follows the EDA360 position that no one company—not even one EDA company—can solve large, complex system problems alone. It takes an entire industry; it takes collaboration to do that.
Then de Geus turned his attention to the evolution and role of EDA tools for developing systems. In the 1990s, he said, design teams assembled “best-in-class” tools to create what he called “Frankenstein flows.” With rising design complexity, that approach evolved into tools that could correlate results from other design tools. “Upstream tools could look ahead” to make design decisions, he said. Then in 2009, the tools evolved so that they could do in-design checking, pushing DRC faults towards zero. Now, said de Geus, we’re working towards monotonic convergence where the design tools reduce design uncertainty to zero over time. By “monotonic,” said de Geus, “I mean no surprises.” A design flow with monotonic convergence radically improves predictability. Of course, Design Convergence is one of the three central themes of the EDA360 vision, along with the capture of Design Intent and Design Abstraction.
Turning his attention to software, de Geus showed some now-familiar graphs that indicate that software now consumes half of a system design project’s time to market. The way to shorten time to market is to move software development earlier in the system design cycle. Little did de Geus know that Cadence would introduce its System Development Suite just hours later at the Embedded Systems Conference held last week in San Jose. The design tools needed to advance the timing on software development, said de Geus include virtual prototyping and FPGA-based prototyping. These tools “will have a profound impact on the costs of chip and system development,” said de Geus.
Coincidentally, the Cadence System Development Suite includes virtual prototyping and FPGA-based emulation tools.
For more information on these System Realization tools, see:
Welcome to the Cadence Virtual System Platform by Jason Andrews
System Development Suite Is Key Draw at Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) by Richard Goering
Cadence System Development Suite – The Story is the Continuum by Richard Goering
The Challenge of System Integration and Bring-Up by Ran Avinun