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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 »

Predictions 2014: Bob Smith on the watchword for the semiconductor industry

February 19th, 2014 by Ed Lee

Bob Smith, Senior VP Marketing & Business Development at Uniquify, shared with us his predictions for semiconductor IP in 2014.

“If 2014 has a watchword for the Semiconductor Industry, it would be momentum and that would be a result of the rapidly increasing use of IP in SoC designs. Add on the mushrooming need for ‘adaptive’ IP to mitigate timing and variation challenges in complex SoCs as performance issues multiply and process geometries shrink.

Moves within the DDR memory space continue to rock the industry and create momentum. Designers are heading directly to the latest JEDEC standard LPDDR4 (low-power DDR4) and moving beyond (or even skipping) LPDDR3 because they’re getting greater gains in performance and low power, an important consideration for mobile applications.

Cost is another factor driving the DDR momentum and the increasing demand for ‘combo’ IP. Designers reason that if the product life cycle of a device, for example, is five years or more, DDR3 memory may cost more than DDR4 long term. They figure that if they can build in the DDR4 now as a combo with DDR3, they can easily make the switch to DDR4 as prices cross over.

And, now we come to ‘adaptive’ IP. DDR memory chips need to be fast and small to be cost effective, which means that the onboard SoC DDR timing interface needs to be able to handle the static and dynamic timing variations that are present in any system. A new approach that is rapidly building momentum is the use of  ‘self-calibrating’ logic that ‘tunes’ the DDR timing interface both at system power up and dynamically during system operation. This allows the DDR memory system to achieve the maximum performance and also delivers enhanced system stability while taking up less silicon area and power.

Because DDR memory is critical to the successful operation of a chip, the momentum towards adoption of the most advanced DDR types and the emergence of adaptive DDR IP are significant trends to watch for in 2014. Of course, all this bodes well for EDA because without EDA tools, no IP would be developed.”

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