On the ASIC/SoC side of the fence: Reducing power consumption is becoming increasingly important — I anticipate that this is the year that power will finally come to the forefront of EDA tools — I know that they optimize for power now, but largely as a second thought — like synthesis, for example, optimizes first for area and timing and then for power — I think we’ll see a move to optimize for power as a primary consideration.
On the FPGA side of the fence: As we move to the 28nm node and below, radiation is increasingly of concern with regard to electronic devices. It’s no longer just of interest for aerospace applications — at these low device geometries, radiation can affect chips in terrestrial applications. FPGAs are particularly susceptible because in addition to their normal logic and registers and memory cells they also have configuration cells. In the past, the only radiation-tolerant FPGAs were antifuse based — but these are only one-time-programmable (OTP) and trail the leading edge technology node by one or two generations. SRAM-based FPGAs offer many advantages in terms of reconfigurability and being at the leading edge of technology, but they are more susceptible to radiation events in their configuration cells. My prediction is that we will see more and more efforts from FPGA chip vendors and EDA tool vendors with regard to creating radiation-tolerant designs.
On the personal side of the fence: I predict that people will come to realize that what the world needs is a book about creating radiation-tolerant electronic designs that can be read and understood by folks who DO NOT have a PhD in nuclear physics — a book that is of interest to the people who design silicon chips (both analog and digital), the people who create EDA tools, the companies who manufacture the chips, and even software engineers (have you heard of “radiation tolerant software”?). I further predict that someone will finally realize that I am the best person to write this book and will approach me with a really great sponsorship deal that will bring tears of delight to my eyes 🙂
Clive “Max” Maxfield
Maxfield High-Tech Consulting
Editor, Programmable Logic DesignLine, EE Times