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Ed Lee
Ed Lee
Ed Lee has been around EDA since before it was called EDA. He cut his teeth doing Public Relations with Valid, Cadence, Mentor, ECAD, VLSI, AMI and a host of others. And he has introduced more than three dozen EDA startups, ranging from the first commercial IP company to the latest statistical … More »

Jim Hogan on What will Drive 2014 Design Trends

January 14th, 2014 by Ed Lee

Back in December, Liz and I figured that it’d be a good time to ask chip and EDA/IP industry folks:

1) what will chip companies need from their EDA/IP vendors in 2014


2) what will we see develop in EDA/IP in 2014?

We thought that Jim Hogan could probably respond to both questions.  He did us one better…he provided the context for us to ask these questions.  While he has advice for the chip and EDA/IP vendors, what’s compelling is what Jim sees as driving design trends.

What does Jim see coming up, starting in 2014?   First off, for a variety of economic reasons, he sees a lot more money becoming available for R&D.     What are some of those economic dynamics?  The US will become a larger oil producer than Saudi Arabia by 2020 (or maybe as early as 2015) and entirely oil-self-sufficient by 2020. Oil will become a lot cheaper as a result and the US will swing a current $1.5T deficit into a $500B one.*

That’s a new trillion dollars that’ll go into our economy!   The unemployment rate will drop to 2 or 3%.   As Jim noted, “The deficit is dropping quickly too.  If the USA isn’t policing the world to maintain an adequate and stable supply of oil, we shouldn’t be spending large amounts on the military.  This is in conjunction with tax revenue recovery.”  Jim is guessing that there will be at least $350B in investment dollars available to the private sector. This won’t be saved in banks.  After all, is there a bank interest rate worth talking about?  As Jim sees it, investors will look for return on that money.  The stock market should heat up and the demand for IPOs will go up.  As our economy vastly improves, there will be a lot more money to invest in innovation.  Electronics high tech will obviously be a big part of that drive toward next-generation innovation.

Mobile will be big, as it is now.  Jim sees that in 2014, the IoT will spur a lot of new end-product development in wearable devices, medical devices, smart devices (that save energy or run faster on current energy).   This dovetails nicely into an aging baby boom generation that will be managing their own health into their eighties.

Jim notes that we talk about power/performance/area these days (PPA as the trigger for chip development):  “Until now, we’ve been designing for maximum performance.  From here on, we’ll need to design for maximum efficiency in terms of accommodating the apps that will run on these devices.”   Starting in 2014, Jim sees the design trigger for the chip industry being functionality (or capability) and performance/power/cost.

So we’ll see a lot of new devices that we’ll wear or have attached to us.    Some will be very cool.  One big theme Jim sees is in increasing life longevity and the quality of life.  He noted that our grandparents’s life expectancy was around 62.  The baby boomers?  Into their 80s.   Today’s kids?  Into their 100s.  To get there, we’ll see more devices like:  1) sensors in sports helmets to detect concussions,  2) Mylar band aids that you stick to your body which will monitor essential health functions and send that information to your health provider.  There will be a range of other hot end-products as well.

But what we touch and handle is invariably hardware.   The product value of these devices, Jim says, will be driven by software: “The platform differentiation will be in the software.  Hardware IP or blocks will become commodities.  The IoT is largely assembling known blocks with unique apps.”

What’s the upshot?  What should chip designers and their EDA tool vendors work toward?   To meet these end-product requirements, Jim tells us that we’ll see:

  • Increasingly complex designs, complexity in terms of function (i.e. hundreds of application processors per SoC)
  • Overall fewer design starts, but sub-90nm starts will increase
    • we will see retooling fabs – like Global Foundries is doing in Singapore – to get the older nodes into the 300mm wafer economics
  • Each chip design will include more than 100s of  IP blocks
  • There will be more than 70% IP re-use, majority will be third-party commercial IP
  • More than 60% of chip design effort will be in software, making hardware verification impossible in some cases
  • Chips characteristics will be:
    • Software Complexity
    • Multi-core (into the hundreds)
    • Dark Silicon with an  always-on sentry
    • A lot more sensors: we’ll see more mixed signal content IoT, as the IoT touches the real world
    • Application Specificity, in terms of hardware but also in the SoC software and interconnect

What’s EDA’s opportunity?   To deal with astronomical increases in effort and dollars spent for verification and software development.

We asked Jim, “What’s the key?

He told us, “As delivery of the desired system behavior in a cost-effective and performance-effective programmable platform becomes a reality, the link between the system/application and SoC will become more and more specific.  Each major system company will develop their own application-specific SoC.  In this way the system company can offer a differentiated product in the market.  The challenge for EDA is selling into a new systems market where application knowledge is king.  Automotive will be an early target.  It is, after all, the largest mobile appliance; look at CES this year — it was all about cars.

Jim pointed to the verification effort: “Right now, verification consumes ~70% of design effort.   In a lot of cases, there is no way to ensure the system performance.  This is why we see emulation becoming ubiquitous and formal methods being adopted.  As designs get more complex, managers will have to keep buying more companies to get more engineers and IP.”

What’s the impact?   “A lot of companies through 2008/2009 became very efficient and remain very cash rich.  They have been acquiring companies for IP and application knowledge. This will continue and we will see the bigger SoC and system companies continue to acquire specialized and ongoing businesses. There’s still a design-by-verification attitude; there’s way too much reliance on verification at RTL. This won’t scale!”

Chip design teams will shortly need new design flow strategies.  We’ll see verification moving above RTL, and a greater reliance on HLS.

So you have it…Eye popping prophesies from the most prominent pundit in EDA.


* Be Top Oil Producer by 2015 on Shale:

U.S.Poised For Energy Self-Sufficiency:

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