If you’re deep into the details, it can be hard to see the bigger picture of what lies ahead. There is a saying for this, of course, which everyone knows: “He can’t see the forest for the trees.” So the solution is to rise above the trees to gain a better view.
Transaction-level models are the main building blocks of virtual prototypes, which are used for early software development. In my last blog post, I briefly introduced the different kinds of software tasks and the implications for models. Today, I want to talk about the modeling requirements for early SoC bring up. As I mentioned, understanding the software requirements correctly provides two clear benefits: 1) it makes modeling easier through a more focused application and 2) it increases the value for the software developer through more tailored modeling capabilities such as debug features.
I am involved in discussions about adoption of system-level technologies a lot. System-level design in EDA and embedded software are always intertwined as the software is the main factor changing when going beyond RTL. Given that system-level design technologies expand beyond the traditional realm of hardware, their adoption is non-trivial for project teams. The overall situation reminds me more and more of Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”: for success several factors have to fall in place together, not all of them in our control.
What do the Inchron Real Time Congress this week and my last weekend home project have in common? They both are all about complexity, real-time, apps and platforms those apps run on. In automotive and consumer domains, apps are running on platforms in systems of systems. The question to me at this point is how many platforms – like AUTOSAR, GENIVI, Android, IOS, Windows Mobile etc. – as well as versions of them can an apps interested user really handle?
The Mentor ESL panel took place in its 9th year on DAC Tuesday in front of a very big “free-lunch-audience”. Wally Rhines kicked off the event in his usual data-driven manner, identifying the three types of design disciplines encompassing the SoC Design process: First there are “Hardware Custom IP Designers” challenged to shorten IP development and verification lead times. Second there are “Software Developers” who need to reduce software development, optimization and verification lead times. The third group are “SoC Architects and Integrators” who are challenged to design the full SoC for performance, low power and scalability.
The industry did it again! Once again we are tightening the loops from system-level to implementation even further. 2010 was the year in which TSMC added the system-level flow to their reference flows for the first time. This year’s TSMC Reference Flow 12 marks the second revision of a system-level flow in which we are connecting a semiconductor manufacturer.all the way up to the system-level!
The big topic these days seem to be the effects of 3D and silicon technology. Even though I am now more of a system-level guy, I do have full appreciation of technology effects given that for the first chip I developed, I had to design a three transistor memory cell which ended up in a FFT Chip for HDTV research. An interesting question I get asked more often these days is how the changes in semiconductor technology and assembly will impact the system level. My answer is: profoundly! How fast we will get there and how disruptive they will be, remains an open question to me.
Posted in Abstraction Levels
Before March Madness and the Final Four Butler win become too much of a distant memory, I wanted to briefly write about a different kind of “Final Four”, the four challenges which KH Kim, Executive Vice President, Samsung Electronics, Co., Ltd., presented at day three of the recent Synopsys Users Group (SNUG). The audience was in for a treat, the presentation was great in structure, content and delivery!
A trip up to Mount Tamalpais can not only be fun, it can change perspectives. It did hit me again when enjoying the panoramic view from up there, that system-level design value is hard to articulate. When taking the “View from the Top” perspective, one is so far away from the actual design implementation that value is pretty straightforward to understand but hard to translate into actual dollars. That is indeed a challenge we find in electronic system-level design as well.
Posted in Abstraction Levels