Fast Followers And The Value of Virtual Prototyping

The Chinese semiconductor market views early software development as a competitive edge.


I am writing this blog while traveling though China. In this country of opportunities, new electronics companies show up regularly and some of them are quickly growing to become leaders in their application domain. Of course it helps if your local market is as big, if not bigger, than the U.S. and European market combined.

The advantage of being a fast follower is that you can learn from the technology leader and adjust based on what worked well and what didn’t work well before. And one thing that these new Chinese semiconductor companies have quickly realized is the importance of software—especially the importance of starting software development early and adjusting hardware to the software needs rather than the other way around.

To achieve this, these Chinese semiconductor companies understand the value of virtual prototyping to achieve the fastest time to quality software. And this value is really achieved in two ways: starting early and the ability to achieve higher productivity. This week I had a discussion with a customer who praised the value of virtual prototyping post-silicon, pointing to determinism, debug control and visibility and software testing capabilities as key characteristics that extend the usefulness of virtual prototypes even when hardware-based alternatives are available.

Now, it is clear that even in these relatively new companies, where it should be easier to introduce new methodologies, there are some adjustment pains in fully embracing virtual prototyping for software development. Most notably the creation of a modeling team, and scaling that team to meet the software development requirement, is still too much of an afterthought. So in a lot of cases these companies are asking us to help them ramp up and complement their modeling expertise. But as we’ve seen in other technology areas, Chinese customers catch up quickly and their virtual prototyping modeling teams are growing at rates that not a lot of other companies have matched in the past.

So expect to see a lot more Chinese-based electronics products, such as mobile phones and tablets, soon. I plan to visit China much more frequently and continue to spark the virtual prototyping revolution.

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