Break Out The Pocket Dictionary

Convergence, complexity and globalization are about are wreaking havoc on communication.


Convergence and complexity at the design level are creating communications problems, something that became particularly evident during a couple panels at DesignCon this week.

In one panel, which was focused on design for manufacturing, the crux of the problem was trust and expertise. On the trust side, the issues that have been talked about for years of foundries sharing data with fabless companies, and vice versa, continues to persist. The information exchange has gotten better, but as Intel will tell you with great smugness, having a fab is a competitive advantage because you can tweak designs and processes simultaneously without these kinds of issues. Not owning one—and the cost is prohibitive for most companies—means you have to trust someone else with your secret sauce.


The foundries don’t want to release too much information because many of their larger customers use the services of more than one foundry. That distrust carries over from the fabless companies, too, when they don’t think they’re getting enough information. At times, there simply isn’t enough because processes are too untested at the leading edge. But when exactly does that information become available, and is everything shared along the way? There are even questions about whether it should be.


In another panel, focused on globalization, there was confusion about what is outsourcing, offshoring and globalization. That’s the easy stuff, too. Trying to communicate across cultural and language barriers is an enormous challenge, and it will continue to become even harder as new countries begin entering the market. China and India were first, but Eastern Europe, Vietnam, the Philippines, parts of northern Africa and portions of Latin America will join this fray soon enough.


Perhaps even more daunting on the system-level side is getting hardware and software engineers in the same room and working on the same design team. Things that seem logical to one group seem impossible to the other.

We are at the beginning of this transition across language issues. It will only get better, or worse, from here. At the very least, you can count on it getting more interesting.

–Ed Sperling




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