Multicore designs are driving mainstream designers to quickly adopt new hardware and software design methods. Is your company ready for this?
President & CEO
San Jose, CA
Is Your Company Ready for Multicore?
Design automation and software tools suppliers are all on a quest to support the semiconductor and electronic product companies in delivering better multi-processor silicon and products - faster, more reliably, and at a lower cost. This trend can be seen through the continuous flow of announcements and product releases hitting the market on a daily basis. As the needs around multicore evolve, it appears, however, that simply upgrading existing solutions to support multicore design will not be sufficient for companies to achieve the benefits they expect. Traditional methods for hardware design (RTL), software development (physical prototype boards), and go-to-market strategies (datasheets or “sample silicon”) are breaking down as the number of multicore based designs and types of cores being used increase. Multicore requires companies to re-evaluate methodologies, technologies, and strategies currently in use. Architecture design, software development, and go-to-market strategies are examples of areas that need this re-evaluation.
Many new engineering challenges have resulted from mulitcore platforms. Complex memory hierarchy, intelligent interconnects, heterogeneous processors and cores, and multiple dependent software stacks must be integrated into a system that meets functionality, performance, power, integration, and time-to-market window requirements. Such changes are forcing engineering teams to create tighter connections with their suppliers, and to enable concurrent engineering among the different disciplines involved (hardware, software, system integration, etc). Modeling, simulation, and analysis technologies serving design tasks such as optimization and validation of architectural interconnects and memories, application processor design, hardware/software integration, and system testing must provide a common integrated infrastructure in order to optimize these interactions, as well as each independent aspect of system development.
As development costs associated with multicore designs increase, companies need to focus on making sure that they design and deliver the “right” product for their customers and optimize their own time-to-revenue. This focus requires the ability to capture and validate design requirements more efficiently in the early stage of the design, enable the ecosystem of technology surrounding the design to be available as early as possible, and provide the customer with a solution to accelerate their own development. Datasheets and silicon must be replaced with a continuous process based on simulated hardware models.
In order to achieve their objectives, semiconductor and electronics companies have, over the past several years, experimented with and are starting to deploy electronic system-level (ESL) design methodologies and technologies. These technologies have proven to result in optimized product performance, reduced development cycle time, and overall better customer satisfaction. The development of standards such as SystemC/IEEE1666, TLM, and SPIRIT have created a viable risk mitigation foundation that is now driving a normal technology evolution from proprietary, in-house solutions to standards-based solutions. The technologies have moved from proof-of-concept to a level of maturity that is required for large scale deployment. We are entering the era of ESL 2.0.
Today, we see multicore design challenges as the key driver behind the need to adopt and deploy ESL technologies in production. Discussions now are not about whether to deploy such technologies, but rather how these technologies should be deployed. Multicore is driving ESL, not as a point technology to accelerate specific design tasks, but rather as an infrastructure that directly impacts the overall enterprise’s business operation and capabilities across its internal functions (hardware design, software development, marketing, etc.) and across its supply chain (partners and customers). This is just the beginning. Multicore will drive even more new innovations and new paradigms for electronic product designs that will challenge our traditional design approaches. The world will anoint new winners among the semiconductor- and electronics-intensive product companies. Great opportunities are at the doorstep: Is your company ready to turn on its productivity for multicore designs?