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

Making Security User Friendly


Serious tradeoffs between technology accessibility and other optimization factors, such as power and security, can crop up especially in the early days of a new product’s design. A new product appeals to a certain category of users who need it to perform well enough that the technology can move forward. They are willing to overlook rough edges in the product and sometimes even glory in the le... » read more

Semiconductor’s Dinosaurs


Dinosaurs once ruled this planet. They existed in every shape and form – some large, others tiny. Each adapted to its own specific environment. Some stayed on the land, others went to sea, and yet another group took to the skies. They looked like they were invincible and would be the pinnacle of the food chain. Then a cataclysmic event happened, and dinosaurs went into a fairly rapid decline.... » read more

Moderating A Panel


When I was a technologist at Mentor, I used to be asked to sit on panels. I loved to provide my opinions on just about anything. As soon as I became independent, the industry believed that I could serve it better as a moderator. That was not an easy transition to make. The first few panels that I moderated were probably not very good. I like to think that I have improved over the years, and the... » read more

DAC 2019: Day 3


Two keynotes get day three of DAC started. The first by John Cohn, Massachusetts Institute of Technology & IBM Watson AI Lab. "I am a nerd. Look back 100 years in processing. We have gone from mechanical computing to where we are today, but it has not been a smooth curve. There are smooth places and then discontinuities. This is when what you were working on no longer works. How we make tho... » read more

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