Intelligent System Design—Why The Future Does Need Us!

Envisioning a whole new level of systems design for the technologies of the future.


The month of June 2019 was very inspiring. At the Design Automation Conference (DAC) in Las Vegas, Cadence launched the next phase of our system-level strategy, dubbed “Intelligent System Design.” Later in the month I got to meet some real-life astronauts at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget—where we exhibited this year for the first time. All of this made me think about the future. Coincidentally, I had been asked in May to record a “My Vision Board” video on that very topic, so it all came together!

First, looking back at DAC, the line-up my team and I had been able to bring in to present in our DAC Theatre worked out beautifully:

  • AFRL talked about using Palladium emulation and Protium prototyping in the cloud.
  • Arm talked about embedded software development with Palladium emulation hybrids and their Fast Models as well as their Multi Debugger, including 1000x speed up achieved in development for Arm China’s “Zhou Yi” artificial intelligence processing unit.
  • Green Hills Software discussed how their Integrity Hypervisor/OS and Multi IDE and Debugger interact with our VSP virtual and Protium physical prototyping as well as Palladium emulation offering – including demo examples of Multi Debug running on an Arm based virtual platform.
  • Altair talked about their job scheduling offerings with Palladium emulation.
  • Samsung showed results of power analysis with Palladium Emulation, achieving 3000x speedup compared to simulation-based power estimation.
  • Tortuga Logic talked about security verification with Palladium Emulation.

Two weeks prior to DAC, we had launched the Protium X1 Enterprise Prototyping Platform, which is a significant step for Cadence, growing from core EDA aspects into system design with a focus on embedded software. The strategic partnership with Green Hills that we announced earlier this year and, of course, our Clarity product fit into this area as well.

Paris. Oui!

After DAC I packed my bags to go to attend and present at the Paris Air Show—after a brief stop to see customers and deliver a key note at Verification Futures in the UK. The Paris Air Show literally blew me away! I pride myself to have been active in electronic system design since the late 1990s, but this event really extended my view on system design to a whole new level. Systems of systems are really much more than just electronics components put together. So many other domains need to be considered as well, so our direction of Intelligent System Design is right on. And hey, of course, fast airplanes are very cool and feeling the jet engines of the Rafale fighter jet zoom by you is quite an experience!

Source: Frank Schirrmeister

We were exhibiting in the US Pavilion and in celebration that it was 50 years since the first steps on the moon, Col. Walt Cunningham, Brig. Gen. Charlie Duke and Col. Al Worden were attending and gave quite inspirational inputs on Project Artemis that is meant to bring us back to the moon in five years and eventually establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028. One of the key messages they conveyed was that such a mission would pool and focus resources for technology innovation, which they attributed as part of the success US economy since the development efforts in the ‘60s that led to the landing on the moon in 1969. It was quite an honor for me to later be on the same stage presenting on Systems of Systems Emulation and Digital Twins in aerospace applications.

Which brings me back to my vision board and thoughts about the future. As I mention in the video, my thoughts were all about my 14-year-old daughter and how the “digital natives” of “Generation Z” would imagine their world. According to the German Telekom’s CEO Tim Höttges at Mobile World Congress, in this world “everything that can be digitized will be digitized and everything that can be connected will be connected.”

So how does Generation Z imagine its future? The credit for some of the content I am referring to goes to my friend Christian von Reventlow, whom I worked with closely in the ‘90s back in Germany in the area of video en- and decoding. More recently, in his time as Chief Product and Innovation Officer at the German Telekom, he was involved in a study with about 300 digital natives who, using a technique called “guided design,” were imagining their future. Some highlights included 74% of them imagining watching movies through glasses, as well as being able to connect instantly with anyone with just one action, 72% think that they will wear lenses that take pictures and 61% imagine that technology they wear and devices they use will replace their phones. They think of drones and robots as helping them in day-to-day life and that cars, trains and buses instantly know who they are and where they want to go. For more detail, you can find Christian’s talk at the SingularityU Summit here.

Before recording my vision board, I checked all these learnings with my own digital native at home, and she thought some of the items would indeed be useful—especially the robots that make life easier. Being able to have augmented reality capabilities, instant communication and new user interfaces come as natural to her as the concept of Digital Twins does. In our discussion, she then became quite thoughtful very fast and started wondering about how safety would be handled, what would happen with her data. For instance, she already prefers her pictures to not be on Facebook. She also wondered how lazy life would become if everything is taken care of. What would they do with all that time?

While it is fun to speculate and think about the future, we clearly do not have all the answers. But seeing what the future users—Generation Z—do expect is fascinating.

What I am most happy about though is that the future does indeed need us—at least to develop it! All the aspects I am involved in in my day-to-day life of managing products for “Intelligent System Design” help develop a safely connected future for generations to come. Life is good!

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