January 10, 2012
Blurring the line between EDA & Test
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Calendar 2012 marks the third consecutive year in which this writer will have posted EDA WEEKLY articles in EDACafe.com as a Contributing Editor.
Appearing every four weeks or so, EDA WEEKLY topics chosen to date have ranged from 'how to write an effective business plan,' to profiles on people, vendors and products from both private and public sources in Electronic Design Automation as well as in Mechanical CAD and Mechanical CAE.
Along with separate quarterly reports on financial results within the context of the then-current worldwide and national economies, emerging trends have been identified and explained, such as certain visionary vendors beginning to offer software tools in multiple technical disciplines toward the goal of simulating real-world multi-physical effects, as well as reporting on the steady march of start ups, acquisitions, conferences, stockholder challenges and the rise of electronics intellectual property in these two disciplines.
Even the exploits of certain companies in the world of electronics testing have been occasionally covered, such as Tektronix (May 30, 2011 -- "A Tektronix Gain") and the two-part series on Agilent Technologies (February 01, 2010 and March 29, 2010 -- "Agilent EEsof EDA"). The latter twosome in fact created the most "reader click-throughs of 2010."
2012 - Happy New Year!
To launch 2012, the writer decided to once again turn to Agilent Technologies among others, to explore the relatively esoteric role that EDA has played in the past in the development and use of electronic test equipment, and how the formerly-bright line between EDA and Test is becoming blurred these days.
Then, a new feature of the EDA WEEKLY that may appear from time to time: An article selected by this writer as likely possessing the qualities of special interest to readers, but penned by other persons for initial publication here. More on this later.
Introduction of EDA WEEKLY Topic #1 of 2012:
Behind every electronics device deemed so essential to modern life (smart phones, Digital TV, satellite radios, navigation systems, radar, laptop computers, iPads, etc.), stands a long and sophisticated supply chain of enterprises critical to the creation of these final consumer products.
As these end-products are designed, during each step of the way the intermediate devices must be tested to ensure that they will function as intended over a specified operating range and meet other standards of durability, safe operation, reasonable cost, and so on.
Accordingly, there has to be equipment available to carry out all that intermediate and final testing, and of course there is a whole industry of test equipment manufacturers and suppliers to serve this need -- an industry that has been around in some form long before what we known as "modern EDA" ever existed.
But these days, sitting directly between EDA and Hardware Test is an interesting and growing new area where the two disciplines are becoming more and more blended. No longer are the worlds of EDA and Test 100% distinct, and this edition of EDA WEEKLY explores this emerging trend.
The Blurring Line between EDA and Test & Measurement Hardware
Clearly the pace of modern communications is moving faster and faster, and design engineers are more challenged than ever before, as the recent EDA WEEKLY article on CEVA demonstrated (see
"CEVA's Cruising!" – first posted November 14, 2011):
This trend is partially driven by the competitive environment and partially because the next generations of communication protocols (3G, 4G, etc.) have barely been labeled “standards” when the consumer products using them have already hit the streets.
To get a jump start on the competition, some of the leading companies are looking for ways to blur the line between EDA and Test to accelerate their designs and be first to market.
In doing several articles on Agilent Technologies in the past (see URL's below in
Footnote ), the writer noticed that Agilent already appeared involved in the early stages of combining EDA and Test, and so he turned to this local source (Santa Rosa, CA) once more in late 2011 to begin his investigation.
And once again, Agilent did not disappoint! “You are truly on to something there,” agreed
Charles Plott, Product Planning Manager for Agilent EEsof EDA's core EDA products. ”There is no question that combining EDA and Test is a growing trend and there are many drivers at play.”
Charles continued, “Of course, EDA has a significant role in design, but there comes a point when you have to build something. The tests, specs, algorithms, and plots used in the early stages in EDA are the same ones you measure on the test bench. The question is whether we can we save engineers' time by finding innovative ways to streamline the flow rather than treating them as two separate worlds – the EDA World and the Measurement World?”
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-- Russ Henke, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.