Wednesday At DAC

What will be the next killer app for the IoT? Plus, establishing C++ as the signoff model, new architectural challenges and tackling verification challenges.


Wednesday at DAC started off in usual fashion with a keynote. For the third day, the focus of the talk was the IoT and how significant the change is going to be. Tyson Tuttle, CEO of Silicon Labs, was the speaker. While there are a lot of figures about how many devices will be connected in the future, Tuttle put it into a different perspective. “There will 70B connected devices by 2025 worth $11.1T. The GDP of the world economy is currently $78 trillion, and by 2025 it will be about $100 trillion. So 10% of the GDP will come from automating the world economy. The semiconductor industry is about $350B, so the value is in the application and in the data.”

What was a little surprising is that Tuttle believes that we, as an industry, have everything we need today. “The infrastructure to support IoT growth is already in place. The algorithms are there to serve Big Data and artificial intelligence. We have the necessary connectivity, and most of that will be wireless. Security, properly deployed, exists today. We just have to make it easy to deploy.”

As with the other keynotes, Tuttle provided examples about how connectivity adds value, provides differentiation and enables new business models. “How do you enhance the value of a power drill? When you add Bluetooth it can be connected to a smartphone. But what can you do with it?” He talked about what Milwaukee had done with its tools. “They started to add features. They could prevent theft by making the tool not work unless the registered smartphone was there. Where are your workers? Now you can track them. When installing solar panels in the dessert, if you over torque, then you degrade the lifetime of the panel, so you can program the drill to limit the torque. You can register who did what work and keep track of this for compliance paperwork. This all creates a new business model providing services for the drill.”

Tuttle believes the next killer app is lighting, which is something of a nod to Joe Costello’s company (see Monday At DAC). That company is using smart lighting as the platform for its office automation products.

Raising the bar on signoff

The industry is becoming more comfortable with the notions of RTL signoff, but now Mentor is trying to raise the bar and establishing the C++ model that drives HSL as the golden model. To do this it needs a full suite of verification tools and flows to give people the confidence that the code generated by the tool is identical in every way to the input description. This has been a challenge in the past, but Mentor now believes it has enough in place to make this a reality. We will be hearing a lot more about this over the next few years.

Cadence hosted a lunchtime discussion about the challenges and solutions for mixed-signal design and verification in automotive and IoT systems. Speakers were from STM, Bosch, Amkor and Cadence.

Goeran Jerke, senior project manager for EDA research and advanced development at Robert Bosch, described the growing number of interrelated issues the company has to deal with. “Today we need a lot of processing power and teraFlops of processing in automotive. This cannot be achieved with the technologies of the past and new technologies are not mature. Cars are no longer as robust as they used to be. Complexity comes from all areas, including packaging. In the past they were dealt with separately, but that no longer works. Design tools are becoming more complex.”

In the afternoon, there were a couple of very vibrant roundtables. One discussed the possibility of IP moving to a higher level of abstraction, along with the problems and challenges that this will create. This was followed by a roundtable that discussed the increasing complexity of packaging and the impact it is having on every aspect of design, from systems down to detailed chip issues.

Afternoon panels

The afternoon continued with a panel titled Emerging Architectures: Which Would You Choose. While 50 minutes is barely enough to get started on a conversation, the key message was that existing architectures based on von Neumann architecture will no longer fly for most applications that call for accelerators. It may mean new ISAs, moving processing towards memory, new computing paradigms, and they will all require new tool chains.

Following this was a panel moderated by this reporter: “Verification Necessity: When Is Enough Too Much?” It attempted a new panel structure. Instead of all panelists being equals, there were two panelists who presented verification challenges that they had to endure. The other panelists provided what they thought would have been better approaches or things they should have considered. There were definitely some connection points and some rolls of the eyes, but it did provide a different way to explore a problem that has no single solution. Being the last panel of the day, the panel went considerably over time as a vibrant conversation continued.

By this point, most EDA attendees consider DAC to be over. The exhibition show floor closed with the playing of bagpipes. Left now are the students, many of whom were barely aware that a trade show was going on. They continue with another full day tomorrow, along with a keynote in the morning.

Further Reading
Monday At DAC
Some things you missed if you did not attend DAC this year. Themes begin to emerge, but there is still a lot of room left for development.
Tuesday At DAC
Why did Siemens acquire Mentor and who will be next? Portable stimulus contemplates a tough adoption challenge.