A New Year and New Challenges
Verification is a complex and costly part of electronics system development. This issue deals with many of the facets of the verification problem.
An article by Anmol Mathur at Calypto describes one of the approaches that vendors are offering as an alternative to the traditional approach of developing test vectors and using a logic simulator to prove the correctness of a design. Although the traditional method still has its merit, its efficiency has diminished considerably with the increase in complexity and size of designs. What was acceptable to test and debug a microprocessor of the complexity of the 8048, for example, is not sufficient for something like a Pentium, for example. The number of test vectors required to test a Pentium presents not just an obstacle due to the time required for running the simulation, but also a complexity issue that challenges the limit of the human mind to handle the problem without resorting to different mode of thinking. Thus equivalence checking, formal techniques, and new methods of design aiming toward the "correct by design" paradigm are being embraced.
We continue with our panorama of EDA vendors active in a specific market segment that have shown their support for the EDA industry by exhibiting at DAC. This month's overview was compiled by graduate students in EDA, under the supervision of the DACeZine editorial board. I am very glad of the decision to involve students in compiling the list, because it is a concrete example of the spirit of DAC. The joining, in one place, of the theoretical work that fuels the industry with the economic forces that give it financial and engineering reality.
This issue of DACeZine also contains an article by Carol Hallett and Jin Zhang of Real Intent dealing with the economic factors that impact the choice of methods and tools used to verify a design. Companies deal with financial issues every time they choose a tool or a method, and yet, it is rare to find an article that covers this aspect: most published articles discuss the technology at the core of a particular EDA tool, and its benefit to the quality of the end product, but seldom is the issue of cost/benefit addressed explicitly. Yet, this is a subject that every engineering manager must address before he or she can obtain approval from the finance department to spend money to purchase licenses for a promising new product.
We also examine the phenomenon of globalization in this issue. Dr. Dieter Ernst is a Senior Fellow at the East West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, and an expert in Asia economic environment. In 2005, he identified the environment and forces that are catalysts for globalization, and applied the possible consequences of the deep financial crisis facing the globe today to project what may happen in our industry in the next few years, and my article quotes his observations. Once again, financial conditions are shaping the application, and indeed the creation, of technology. Sources of capital and regulations directing their uses are experiencing changes. Risk aversion, focus on local need and growth, protection of third-party investments are growing issues that are reshaping the sources of funds that are needed not only to fuel growth, but also to sustain the very existence of EDA as a separate industry.
Jim Griffeth's article on search engine optimization covers one of the vexing problems for marketing managers. How does one get a product noticed in this electronic age? The internet has revolutionized advertising. Both form and content of an advertising message have changed: they have become more dynamic because they are based on a medium that allows almost constant updating and reformatting, and they have become much more competitive because they must outshine a much larger volume of competitive ads. Moreover, other form of electronic content, although not directly competitive, fight for "eyeballs" on the computer screen. One of the fundamental truth of advertising is that if your content is not seen, the message is lost. And in today's internet, if Google cannot find you, you do not exist! In fact, if your site is not on the first page of a Google search, you might just as well not exist. Jim's article presents sound answers to assist in overcoming these challenges.
Although no one enjoys a difficult economic climate, hardship is a catalyst for creativity and a stimulus for determination. Our challenge is to strengthen the industry by solving the challenges we are facing and those that will occur in the coming months. As before, the Design Automation Conference will be the right environment to explore new approaches and new market sectors as we evolve our industry to meet the challenges of a new reality. I wish our readers a happy and prosperous 2009, and we look forward to seeing you in the virtual world through our issues of DACeZine, and in person in San Francisco in July.