Engineering Within Constraints


One of the themes of DAC this year was the next phase of machine learning. It is as if CNNs and RNNs officially have migrated from the research community and all that is left now is optimization. The academics need something new. Quite correctly, they have identified power as the biggest problem associated with learning and inferencing today, and a large part of that problem is associated with ... » read more

And The Survey Says…


Some of you may have received an email recently that looks something like this. Others may be getting it in a little while. This is an invitation to participate in a survey that is important for the industry, and I encourage you not to ignore it. Let me explain a little. This survey has quite a long history. It all started in 2002 when Collett International conducted the first survey. Ba... » read more

Constrained Innovation


The semiconductor industry has long been seen as a risk-averse industry and that is probably to be expected. The rapid migration of technology nodes (lots of innovation happening there) produced a rapid expansion in transistor counts that stretched development teams to their limits. Every design had to contain more functionality while dealing with a plethora of new concerns, and be developed by... » read more

The Meaning Of Verification


When I ask the question "Why do we do verification?" there are generally two types of responses. One of them sees the glass as half empty and the other as half full. It depends upon how you look at the problem and if you see verification as being a positive or negative operation. The negative answer is that we do verification to find bugs. This relies on the mechanical function of creating v... » read more

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

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

The Trouble With Semantics


Semantics are important. They tell us what something means. Without semantics you just have a jumble of syntax. The better defined the semantics are, the less likely something is to be mis-interpreted because they can be more rigidly analyzed. The semantics of the English language are not very well defined, which is why it is impossible to write a specification where everyone agrees upon wha... » read more

Better, Not Best


The semiconductor industry has been lulled into a particular way of thinking by Moore's Law. It is like the age-old joke — you don't have to outrun a bear, you only have to be faster than your companion. The same has held true for designs. There is little to no point being the best, you only have to be good enough to be better than the competition. That sets the bar. Best is also relative.... » read more

Abstract Verification


Verification relies on a separation of concerns. Otherwise the task has no end. Sometimes we do it without thinking, but as an industry, we have never managed to fully define it such that it can become an accepted and trusted methodology. This becomes particularly true when we bring abstraction into the picture. A virtual prototype is meant to be true to behavior, but there could be timing d... » read more

Survival Of The Cheapest?


We all want the best solution to win, but that rarely happens. History is littered with products that were superior to the alternatives and yet lost out to a lessor rival. I am sure several examples are going through your mind without me having to list them. It is normally the first to volume that wins, often accelerated by copious amounts of marketing dollar to help push it against headwinds. ... » read more

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