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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 »

Guest Post: How I Spent My Three Days at DAC

June 10th, 2014 by Tom Anderson, VP of Marketing

Last week, we offered Breker’s perspective on the recently concluded Design Automation Conference (DAC) in San Francisco. After last year’s DAC in Austin, in addition to our own summary we published several guest posts from other vendors in which they shared their impressions of the show. These proved quite popular, and so again this year we’ll be publishing some guest posts with interesting thoughts on DAC and how it’s evolving to meet the needs of the semiconductor industry. Today we begin with Jonah McLeod, director of corporate communications at Kilopass:

Three days of DAC as an attendee found me listening to presentations at the TSMC and SMIC booths from foundry partners. In between times, I listened to two pitches from Monte Carlo simulation vendors Solido Design Automation and CLK Design Automation. Both promised to achieve Spice-level accuracy within a couple of percentage points in a fraction of the time. I also checked out Verifyter AB, a company offering debug automation and analysis software.

Kilopass presented its one-time programmable (OTP) antifuse non-volatile memory (NVM) offering Gusto-2, aimed at code storage in the Internet of Things (IoT), and its latest technology Virtual Crosspoint Memory, which will provide a four-fold increase in memory bit cell density over Gusto-2, in the TSMC and SMIC booths. Antifuse OTP NVM prevents hacking and counterfeiting of system designers’ program code in IoT applications, numbering 50 billion devices by 2020 according to Cisco Systems.

Tool vendors Solido and CLK both made compelling arguments for providing faster and more accurate analysis of process-voltage-temperature (PVT) variations and static timing. At smaller process geometries, analyzing corner cases in large SoC designs can be very time consuming. The trade off is to rigorously simulate a sample of the corner cases in the hope that the sample is representative of the whole.

According to the Solido and CLK presentations, each has developed Monte Carlo Spice simulation that can provide Spice accuracy within a couple of percent but at a small fraction of the time of Spice. Solido claims billions of Monte Carlo samples in minutes. CLK claims its solution to be a million times faster than Monte Carlo Spice. Not being an engineer, I can’t verify the veracity of these claims and the only real test would be a bake-off against existing designs to see how close the new tools come to the couple of percent of Spice that each claims.

Verifyter AB offers a debug automation and analysis tool called PinDown. For regression test suites of program code, it speeds up bug diagnosis and analysis of root causes. For program code going into IoT devices that might reside in ROM or OTP memory, getting the code right before committing it into memory could mean the success or failure of a product launch. For the hundreds of start-ups making IoT devices for applications such as activity monitors, smart toys, and smart electrical plugs, the value is entirely in software and a bug could spell the end of their venture.

On the other end of the spectrum from Solido and CLK is Breker Verification Systems, a DAC exhibitor breaking new ground at the system level and the owner of this blog. I managed to wander by its booth and saw that its SoC verification solution garnered quite a bit of attention from DAC attendees. It, too, will enable better verified chips in those IoT devices.

I ended my time at DAC at the EDACafe booth with Sanjay Gangal doing a short video on Kilopass’ OTP memory and its expanding application in Internet of Things designs. Overall, it was a good DAC made more pleasant by the many distractions of San Francisco.

Jonah McLeod is director of corporate communicationsJonah McLeod at Kilopass Technology Inc. He has held similar positions at Virage Logic, ARC International (now part of Synopsys) and Denali Software. Prior to his career in marketing communications he was editor-in-chief of Integrated Design Magazine (now part of Electronic Engineering Times) and Electronics Magazine, and contributing editor at Electronics Design and Computer Design. McLeod began his marketing communications career at Regis McKenna Inc. where he served as an account executive for Intel and Apple Computer (at its beginning).

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