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 The Breker Trekker
Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing
Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing
Tom Anderson is vice president of Marketing for Breker Verification Systems. He previously served as Product Management Group Director for Advanced Verification Solutions at Cadence, Technical Marketing Director in the Verification Group at Synopsys and Vice President of Applications Engineering at … More »

DVCon India: Harbinger of a Great SoC Future

October 8th, 2014 by Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing

Last week we summarized some of the activities at the inaugural DVCon India. Breker was not the only company impressed by this show. For example, CVC wrote two posts on their VerifNews blog describing the excitement and range of technical content at the show. Gaurav Jalan captured several aspects of the show in his Sid’dha-karana blog, focusing specifically on the keynote speakers. The Agnisys blog also provided a nice overview. Clearly this was a very successful event.

The high quality of the technical content and the excellent attendance at DVCon lead me to think about how much India has changed in just a few years. I first had an engineering team there in 1995, nearly 20 years ago. I recall my first trip to India very well and the contrast with recent visits is tremendous. I’ve been deeply impressed by the evolution of electronics development in India and I see the DVCon success as both a tribute to where the community is today and a sign of even better things to come.

Let me paint the scene as I saw India in early 1996, when I assumed responsibility for a team in Madras (later renamed Chennai). I had a great visit there, enjoying the culture and the food, but was surprised by the limitations of our facility. The engineers worked in a small office suite on the grounds of a tile manufacturing company. There was minimal air conditioning, and with power outages several times a day it made almost no progress against the hot, humid weather.

We had a single gas-fired backup generator. If the outage lasted for a while, the engineers would drag the generator out onto a balcony, fire it up, and produce enough electricity to power the compute server and a PC or two. At the time, Sun workstations were prohibitively expensive to import and so the engineers worked mostly with PCs and low-cost EDA tools rather than the SPARCstations and Cadence licenses we had in San Jose.

Not surprisingly, communication was the biggest barrier. It’s challenging even today due to the time difference of roughly twelve hours, but the limited infrastructure made it worse. The Madras office had a single speakerphone and the marginal quality of the phone lines often made it hard to hear each other on conference calls. The only option for Internet service was dial-up to a government telecommunications agency, and even reading email was agonizingly slow.

In fact, the Internet connection was so unreliable that we sent floppy discs through the mail rather than use FTP. Larger companies could afford dedicated phone and data links between the U. S. and India, and some had automatic backup generators that could support critical functions during a power outage. But even the nicest companies I visited had facilities that looked more like 1950s defense contractor bullpens than contemporary Silicon Valley offices.

That all changed rapidly, and today many electronics development facilities in India are among the nicest in the world. I’m always amazed by the liberal use of beautiful marble. The company infrastructure is world-class: VOIP phones, wireless networks, and excellent cell phone reception. Power outages still occur, but are barely noticed since generators kick in almost instantly and UPS systems keep computers and infrastructure humming along.

I’m telling this story partly to show why I’ve been so impressed by the progress in India, but also because I’ve seen the type and quality of work performed there mirror the improvement in working conditions, salaries, and lifestyles of the engineers. Twenty years ago, industry consensus seemed to be that Indian-based teams were great at quality assurance (QA), design verification, development of design and verification IP, and perhaps some subsystem work.

However, it was rare to find teams in India designing complete chips or systems, and certainly very few of those were on the leading edge. This changed as rapidly as the industrial infrastructure. By the time that I was visiting India on EDA sales calls in 2002, many products were being entirely designed in Bangalore. Today, Indian development teams are working on chips, including SoCs, as complex as any in the world.

The level of SoC activity in India was clear at DVCon. In addition to the excellent technical papers, we had dozens of engineers visit our booth and express strong interest in our products. Some are designing complex multi-processor systems and are interested in our Coherency TrekApp. Many are involved in pre-silicon verification but a few are working on silicon validation, a sign that projects in India run for the complete product cycle, from definition to manufacturing hand-off.

There are many reasons that India has made so much progress so quickly in electronics: excellent education, English as a common language, democratic values, etc. These remain in place and so I fully expect that growth will continue and we will see more and more amazing SoC designs being developed in India. It’s a great opportunity for us and we already have the team in place to support a major ramp-up in activity. If you haven’t talked to Breker yet, now is the time.

Tom A.

The truth is out there…sometimes it’s in a blog.

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