Author's Latest Posts


Standard Evolution


I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Lu Dai, chairman of Accellera Systems Initiative and senior director of engineering for Qualcomm. SE: I have noticed a change in the way that Accellera operates these days. In the past, standards were driven by the EDA companies, but recently we have seen a lot more end-user company involvement and they are the companies driving new standards. ... » read more

Why It’s So Hard To Create New Processors


The introduction, and initial success, of the RISC-V processor ISA has reignited interest in the design of custom processors, but the industry is now grappling with how to verify them. The expertise and tools that were once in the market have been consolidated into the hands of the few companies that have been shipping processor chips or IP cores over the past 20 years. Verification of a pro... » read more

Do You Trust Your IP Supplier?


How much do you trust your IP supplier, regardless of whether IP was developed in-house or by a third-party provider? And what implications does it have a system integrator? These are important questions that many companies are beginning to ask. Today, there are few methods, other than documentation, that provide the necessary information. The software industry may be ahead of the hardware i... » read more

HBM Issues In AI Systems


All systems face limitations, and as one limitation is removed, another is revealed that had remained hidden. It is highly likely that this game of Whac-A-Mole will play out in AI systems that employ high-bandwidth memory (HBM). Most systems are limited by memory bandwidth. Compute systems in general have maintained an increase in memory interface performance that barely matches the gains in... » read more

Power Challenges In ML Processors


The design of artificial intelligence (AI) chips or machine learning (ML) systems requires that designers and architects use every trick in the book and then learn some new ones if they are to be successful. Call it style, call it architecture, there are some designs that are just better than others. When it comes to power, there are plenty of ways that small changes can make large differences.... » read more

A New Breed Of Engineer


The industry loves to move in straight lines. Each generation of silicon is more-or-less a linear extrapolation of what came before. There are many reasons for this – products continue to evolve within the industry, adding new or higher performance interfaces, risk levels are lower when the minimum amount is changed for any chip spin, existing software is more likely to run with only minor mo... » read more

An Increasingly Complicated Relationship With Memory


The relationship between a processor and its memory used to be quite simple, but in modern SoCs there are multiple heterogeneous processors and accelerators, each needing a different means of accessing memory for maximum efficiency. Compromises are being made in order to preserve the unified programming model of the past, but the pressures are increasing for some fundamental changes. It does... » read more

The Cost Of Programmability


Nothing comes for free, and that is certainly true for the programmable elements in an SoC. But without them we are left with very specific devices that can only be used for one fixed application and cannot be updated. Few complex devices are created that do not have many layers of programmability, but the sizing of those capabilities is becoming more important than in the past. There are... » read more

Brighter Future For Photonics


Photons increasingly are taking over where electrons are failing in communications, but mixing the two never has been easy. There always have been two potential implementation paths — building each on its own substrate and then stacking them, or building them on a single substrate. The tradeoff between the two solutions is more complex than it may initially appear, and ongoing improvements... » read more

The MCU Dilemma


The humble microcontroller is getting squeezed on all sides. While most of the semiconductor industry has been able to take advantage of Moore's Law, the MCU market has faltered because flash memory does not scale beyond 40nm. At the same time, new capabilities such as voice activation and richer sensor networks are requiring inference engines to be integrated for some markets. In others, re... » read more

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