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Blog Review – Monday, June 22 2015

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Yonsei Uni team up for 5G; Hold that thought; now catch it; ARM and UNICEF; Industry and Education breathe life into EDA; Connected driving clears the road ahead

Researchers at Yonsei University have demonstrated a real-time, full-duplex LTE radio system at IEEE Globecom in Austin, Texas, using a novel antenna approach and working with National Instruments SDR platforms and LabVIEW graphical programming environment, reports Steve Leibson, Xilinx.

“Hold that thought” takes a new turn, as an anonymous blogger at Atmel describes the MYLE TAP, a wearable ‘thought catcher’. The touch-activate and voice-powered device automatically converts thoughts into actions. An interesting prototype or a recipe for disaster if it falls into the wrong hands?

Charity doesn’t always begin at home, sometimes it’s a warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark. Dominic Vergine, ARM, visited the UNICEF global procurement hub and considers what wearable technology can provide, building on the low-tech, wearable technology of the MUAC band to test for malnutrition.

Building on a presentation at DAC 2015, Richard Goering, Cadence, considers how to academia and industry can work together to revitalize EDA.

The road ahead is smooth for the connected car, reports John Day, Mentor Graphics, if you are driving a Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), anyway. He examines the connected car technology that can identify and share data on potholes, broken manholes and other hazards.

Sloth is a deadly sin, especially in IP software development, warns Tom De Schutter, Synopsys, as he examines how laze in automotive testing can be absolved with virtual prototypes as an alternative to hardware, making earlier, broader, more automated software testing available.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, June 08, 2015

Monday, June 8th, 2015

DAC duo announce DDA; Book a date for DAC with ARM, Ansys, Cadence; Synopsys and Xilinx; True FPGA-based verification

Announcing a partnership with Cadence Design Systems at DAC 2015, Dennis Brophy, Mentor Graphics teases with some details of Deug Data API (DDA). Full details will be unveiled at a joint presentation at the Verification Academy Booth (2408) on Tuesday at 5pm.

Amongst demonstrations of an IoT sub-system for Cortex-M processors, ARM will show a new IP tooling suite and the ARM Cordio radio core IP. There will be over a dozen partners, reports Brenda Westcott, ARM, in the Connected Community Pavillion and the ARM Scavenger Hunt. (DAC June 7 – 11, ARM booth 2428).

As if justifying its place at DAC 2015, Ravi Ravikumar, Ansys, explains how the show has evolved beyond EDA for SoCs. The company will host videos on automotive, IoT and mobile, and presentations from foundry partners. (DAC June 7 – 11, Anysys booth 1232).

If you are interested in the continuum of verification engines, DAC is the place to be this week. Frank Schirrmeister, Cadence, summarizes the company’s offerings to date, with a helpful link to a COVE (Continuum of Verification Engines) article, and provides an overview of some of the key verification sessions at the Moscone Center. (DAC June 7 – 11, Cadence booth 3515).

Back with FPGA prototyping system, HAPS, Michael Posner, Synopsys, invites visitors to DAC to come see the Xilinx UltraScale VU440-based HAPs. As well as proudly previewing the hardware software development support, he also touches on the difficulties of mapping ASICs to FPGAS.

More Xilinx-DAC news, as Doug Amos’s guest blog at Aldec, announces the era of true FPGA-based verification. He believes the end of big-box emulation is nigh, following the adoption of Xilinx’s Virtex UltraScale devices in its HES-7 (Hardware Emulation Solution, seventh generation) technology.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday May 18, 2015

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Zynq detects pedestrians; ARMv8-A explained; Product development demands test; Driving connectivity; Celebrating Constellations; Chip challenges

The helpful Michael Thomas, ARM, advises readers that there is The Cortex-A Series Programmer’s Guide for ARMv8-A available and introduces what is in the guide for a taster of the architecture’s features.

The Embedded Vision Summit gives many bloggers material for posts. The first is Steve Leibson, Xilinx, who includes a video Mathworks presented there, with a description if a real-time pedestrian detector running on a Zynq-based workflow, using MathWorks’ Sumulink and HDL Coder.

Another attendee was Brian Fuller, Cadence, who took away the secrets to successful product development, which he sums up as: test, test, test. (He does elaborate beyond that in his detailed blog, reviewing Mike Alrdred of Dyson’s keynote.

Anticipating another event, DAC, Ravi Ravikumar, Ansys, looks at the connected car and the role of design in intelligent vehicles.

Also with an eye on DAC, Rupert Baines, UltraSoC has a guest blog at IP-Extreme, and praises the Constellations initiative, with some solid support – and some restrained back-slapping.

Continuing a verification series, Harry Foster, Mentor, looks at the FPGA space and reflects on how the industry makes choices in formal technology.

A guest blog, at Chip Design, by Dr. Bruce McGaughy, ProPlus Design Solutions, looks at what innovative chip designs mean for chip designers. His admiration for the changing pace of design is balanced with identifying the drivers for low power design to meet the IoT portable phase.

Why do we need HDCP 2.2 and what do we need to do to ensure cryptography and security? These are addressed, and answered, by VIP Experts, Synopsys, in this informative blog.

By Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, May 04 2015

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Steve Leibson, Xilinx, reports on an interesting academic program to ‘look at, poke, modify, and experiment with’ the MIPS RISC processor RTL using a simplified Imagination Technologies microAptiv processor core. The MIPSfpga program provides university CS and EECS departments access to a fully-validated, current generation MIPS CPU. There are also plans for the Imagination University Programme to expand this university program to the PowerVR graphics processors and FlowCloud IoT technology.

Two ARM server hardware platform used in cloud-based set-top box systems are explained in detail by Karthik Ranjan, ARM. The blog looks back at early cable TV systems and looks ahead to the IoT and cloud use in virtual network functionality (VNF) ahead of the VNF world Congress in San Jose this week.

In praise of an overlooked object-oriented language, Ruby, Michael Cizl, IP Extreme, presents a strong case and urges readers to rethink their choices.

Excitement is growing for the advent of Windows 10. Rambus speculates on the inclusion of a universal sensor driver set for environmental, biometric, proximity and motion sensing. Adam Shah, IDG, speculates on what this will mean for functionality for devices running the OS.

Wrestling with power, the panel of experts at the Electronic Design Processes Symposium, discussed if the industry needs to rethink tackling power for IoT devices in particular. Brian Fuller, Cadence, reports from the Monterey event.

Distilling a report from IHS Automotive, John Day, Mentor Graphics, identifies apps and trends that smartphones will bring to the in-car experience, from Apple to Android, with a graph of consumers’ preferences from Bluetooth for hand-free use, touchscreen to an auxillary hook to add an MP3 player or phone.

Returning to a familiar blog-topic, Michael Posner, Synopsys, compares hybrid prototyping vs prototyping bridges, using the company’s latest DesignWare Hybrid IP Prototyping Kits as a starting point for the IP prototyping discussion.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor.

Blog Review – Monday April 20, 2015

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Half a century and still quoted as relevant is more than most of us could hope to achieve, so the 50 anniversary of Gordon Moore’s pronouncement which we call Moore’s Law is celebrated by Gaurav Jalan, as he reviews the observation first pronounced on April 19, 1965, which he credits with the birth of the EDA industry, and the fabless ecosystem amongst other things.

Another celebrant is Axel Scherer, Cadence, who reflects on not just shrinking silicon size but the speed of the passing of time.

On the same theme of what Moore’s Law means today for FinFets and nano-wire logic libraries, Navraj Nandra, Synopsys, also commemorates the anniversary, with an example of what the CAD team has been doing with quantum effects at lower nodes.

At NAB (National Broadcasters Association) 2015, in Las Vegas, Steve Leibson, Xilinx, had an ‘eye-opening’ experience at the CoreEL Technologies booth, where the company’s FPGA evaluation kits were the subject of some large screen demos.

Reminiscing about the introduction of the HSA Foundation, Alexandru Voica, Imagination Technologies, provides an update on why heterogeneous computing is one step closer now.

Dr. Martin Scott, the senior VP and GM of Rambus’ Cryptography Research Division, recently participated in a Silicon Summit Internet of Things (IoT) panel hosted by the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA). In this blog he discusses the security of the IoT and opportunities for good and its vulnerabilities.

An informative blog by Paul Black, ARM examines the ARM architecture and DS-5 v5.21 DSTREAM support for debug, discussing power in the core domain and how to manage it for effective debug and design.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Warren Savage, IPextreme, has some sage, timely advice that applies to crossword solving, meeting scheduling and work flows.

At the recent Open Power Summit, Convey Computer announced the Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) development kit based on its Eagle PCIe coprocessor board. Steve Liebson, Xilinx, has a vested interest is telling more, as the accelerator is based on the Xilinx Virtex-7 980T FPGA.

Gloomy predictions from Zvi Or-Bach, MonolithIC 3D, who puts a line in the sand at the 28nm node as smartphone and tablet growth slows.

Saying you can see unicorns is not advisable in commerce, but Ramesh Dewangan, Real Intent has spotted some at Confluence 2015, but where, he wonders, are those for the EDA industry?

ARM’s use of Cadence’s Innovus Implementation System software to design the ARM Cortex-A72 is discussed by Richard Goering, Cadence. As well as the collaboration, the virtues of ARM’s ‘highest performance and most advanced processor’ are highlighted.

ARM has partnered with the BBC, reveals Gary Atkinson, ARM, in the Make it Digital initiative by the broadcasting corporation. One element of the campaign is the Microbit project, in which every child in school year 7 (11-12 years old) will be given a small ARM-based development board that they can program using a choice of software editor. Teachers will be trained and there will be a suite of training materials and tutorials for every child to program their first IoT device.

Mentor Graphics is celebrating a win at the first annual LEDs Magazine Sapphire Award in the category of SSL Tools and Test. Nazita Saye, Mentor Graphics, is in Hollywood Report mode and reviews the awards.

Responding to feedback from readers, Satyapriya Acharya, Syopsys, posts a very interesting blog about verifiying the AMBA system level environment. It is well thought out and informative, with the promise of more capabilities needed in a system monitor to perform checks.

Blog Review – Monday, February 09, 2015

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Arthur C Clarke interview; Mastering Zynq; The HAPS and the HAPS-nots; Love thy customer; What designers want; The butterfly effect for debug

A nostalgic look by at an AT&T and MIT conference, by Artie Beavis, ARM, has a great video interview with Arthur C Clarke. It is fascinating to see the man himself envisage mobile connectivity and ‘devices that send information to friends, the exchange of pictorial information and data; the ‘completely mobile’ telephone as well as looking forward to receiving signals from outer space.

A video tutorial presented by Dr Mohammad S Sadri, Microelectronic Systems Design Research Group at Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, Germany, shows viewers how to create AXI-based peripherals in the Xilinx Zynq SoC programmable logic. Steve Liebson, Xilinx posts the video. Dr Sadri may appear a little awkward with the camera rolling, but he clearly knows his stuff and the 23 minute video is informative.

Showing a little location envy, Michael Posner, Synopsys, visited his Californian counterparts, and inbetween checking out gym and cafeteria facilities, he caught up on FPGA-based prototype debug and HAPS.

Good news from the Semiconductor Industry Association as Falan Yinug reports on record-breaking sales in 2014 and quarterly growth. Who bought what makes interesting – and reassuring – reading.

Although hit with the love bug, McKenzie Mortensen, IPextreme, does not let her heart rule her head when it comes to customer relations. She presents the company’s good (customer) relationship guide in this blog.

A teaser of survey results from Neha Mittal, Arrow Devices, shows what design and verification engineers want. Although the survey is open to more respondents until February 15, the results received so far are a mix of predictable and some surprises, all with the option to see disaggregated, or specific, responses for each questions.

From bugs to butterflies, Doug Koslow, Cadence, considers the butterfly effect in verification and presents some sound information and graphics to show the benefits of the company’s SimVision.

Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

Blog Review – Monday Sept. 08 2014

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Semiconductor sales – good news; Namibia’s Internet project; Rambus fellow considers IoT security; Intel fashions a year of wearables.
by Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor


If you are wondering what Intel’s New Devices Group has been doing since its formation 12 months ago, Michael A. Bell reveals all in this blog. All the obvious wearable candidates are there, but with a twist – biometric earbuds, a bracelet computer…And there is also an insight into business news, an indication of where this business unit is headed.

A fair bit of name-dropping kicks off this Rambus blog, celebrating Rich Page’s IoT projects. This interview with the company’s fellow is an interesting take on IoT, as Page predicts a shift of emphasis to security and the ensuing design challenges.

Citizen Connect is a worthy project, supported by MyDigitalBridge Foundation, Microsoft, and Adaptrum. Steve Leibso, Xilinx, reports on the latest project for broadband access in the continent, wirelessly connecting 28 schools in Namibia with Ethernet over a 62x152km area using TVWS (TV White Space) spectrum.

It’s been a while since a journalist could write this, but it looks like good news for the semiconductor market. Falan Yinug, explains some of the statistics behind the SIA report of Q2 sales that set some records, for a feelgood read.

Blog Review – Mon. August 11 2014

Monday, August 11th, 2014

VW e-Golf; Cadence’s power signoff launch; summer viewing; power generation research.
By Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor

VW’s plans for all-electric Golf models have captured the interest of John Day, Mentor Graphics. He attended the Management Briefing Seminar and reports on the carbon offsetting and a solar panel co-operation with SunPower. I think I know what Day will be travelling in to get to work.

Cadence has announced plans to tackle power signoff this week and Richard Goering elaborates on the Voltus-Fi Custom Power Integrity launch and provides a detailed and informative blog on the subject.

Grab some popcorn (or not) and this summer blockbusters, as lined up by Scott Knowlton, Synopsys. Perhaps not the next Harry Potter series, but certainly a must-see for anyone who missed the company’s demos at PCI-SIG DevCon. This humorous blog continues the cinema analogy for “Industry First: PCI Express 4.0 Controller IP”, “DesignWare PHY IP for PCI Express at 16Gb/s”, “PCI PHY and Controller IP for PCI Express 3.0” and “Synopsys M-PCIe Protocol Analysis with Teledyne LeCroy”.

Fusion energy could be the answer for energy demands and Steve Leibson, Xilinx, shares Dave Wilson’s (National Instruments) report of a fascinating project by National Instruments to monitor and control a compact spherical tokamak (used as neutron sources) with the UK company, Tokamak Solutions.

Deeper Dive – Is IP reuse good or bad?

Friday, May 30th, 2014

To buy or to reuse, that is the question. Caroline Hayes, Senior Editor asked four industry experts, Carsten Elgert (EC), Product Marketing Director, IPG (IP Group), Cadence, Tom Feist (TF), Senior Marketing Director, Design Methodology, Xilinx, Dave Tokic (DT), Senior Director, Partner Ecosystems and Alliances, Xilinx, and Warren Savage (WS), President and CEO, IPextreme about the pros and cons of IP reuse versus third party IP.

What are the advantages and disadvantages when integrating or re-using existing IP?

WS: This is sort of analogous to asking what are the advantages/disadvantages of living a healthy lifestyle? The disadvantages are few, the advantages myriad. But in essence it’s all about practicality. If you can re-use a piece of technology, that means that you don’t have to spend money developing something different which includes a huge cost of verification. Today’s chips are simply too large to functionally verify every gate. A part of the every chip verification strategy assumes that pre-existing IP has already had its verification during its development and if it is silicon-proven, this only decreases the risk of any latent defects that may be discovered. The only reason to not to reuse an IP is that the IP itself is lacking in some ways that make the case to not reuse it but rather create a new IP.

strong>TF: Improved productivity. Reuse can have disadvantages when using older IP on new technologies, it is not always possible to target the newer features of a device with old IP.

DT: IP reuse is all about improving productivity and can result in significantly shrinking the design time especially with configurable IP. Challenges come from when the IP itself needs to be modified from the original, which then requires additional design and verification time. Verification in general could be more challenging, as most IP is verified in isolation and not in the context of the system. For example, if the IP is being used in a way the provider didn’t “think of” in their verification process, it may have bugs that are discovered during that integration verification phase that then needs to be reflected back to determining which IP has the issue and correcting/verifying that IP.

CE: The benefits of using your own IP in-house are that you know what the IP is doing and can use it again – it is also not available as third party IP, for differentiation. The disadvantage is that it is rarely documented allowing it to be used in different departments. The same engineers know what they are taking when they reuse their IP, but to properly document it, to make the product, can be time-consuming for a neighboring department. It is also the case that unwanted behavior is not verified. However, it is cheaper and it works.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using third party IP?

WS: The advantages of using third party IP is usually related to that company being a domain expert in a certain field. By using IP from that company, you are in fact licensing expertise from this company and putting it to use in an effective way. Think of it like going to dinner at a 4-star Michelin rated restaurant. The ingredients may be ordinary but how they are assembled are far more exceptional than something the ordinary person can achieve on their own.

TF: Xilinx cannot cover all areas. Having a third party ecosystem allows us to increase the reach to customers. We have qualification processes in place to ensure the quality of the IP is up to the required standard.

DT: Xilinx and its ecosystem provide more than 600 cores across all markets, with over 130 IP providers in our Alliance Program. These partners not only provide more “fundamental” standards-based IP, but also provide a very rich set of domain and application-specific IP that would be difficult for Xilinx to develop and support. This allows Xilinx technology to be more easily and quickly adopted in 100’s of applications. Some of the challenges come in terms of consistency of deliverables, quality, and business models. Xilinx has a mature process of partner qualification and also work with the partner to expose IP quality metrics when we promote a partner IP product that helps customers make smarter decisions on choosing a provider or IP core.

EC: Third party IP means there is no rewriting. Without it, it could take hundreds of man-years to develop a function that is not major selling point for a design. Third party IP is compatible as well as bug-free/limited bugs. It is like spending hundreds of hours redesigning the steering wheel of a car – it is not a differentiating selling point of the vehicle.

Is third party IP a justifiable risk in terms of cost and/or compatibility?

DT: The third party IP ecosystem for ASIC and programmable technologies has been around for decades. There are many respected and high quality providers out there, from smaller specialized IP core partners such as Xylon, OmniTek, Northwest Logic, and PLDA to name a few, up to the industry giants like ARM and Synopsys generating $100M’s in annual revenue. But ultimately the customer is responsible for determining the system, cost, and schedule requirements, evaluating IP options, and make the “build vs. buy” decision.

EC: I would reformulate that question: Can [the industry] live without IP? Then, the risk is justifiable.

How important are industry standards in IP integration? What else would you like to see?

TF: IP standards are very important. For example, Xilinx is on the IEEE P 1735 working group for IP security. This is very important to protect customer, 3rd party and Xilinx IP throughout flows that may contain 3rd party EDA tools and still allow everyone to interoperate on the IP. We hope to see the 2.0 revision of this standard ratified this year so all tool vendors and Xilinx can adopt it and make IP truly portable, yet protected.

DT: Another example is AMBA AXI4, where Xilinx worked closely with ARM to define this high speed interconnect standard to be optimized for integrating IP on both ASIC and programmable logic platforms.

WS: Today, not so much. There has been considerable discussion on this topic for the last 15 years and various industry initiatives have come and gone over the years on this. The most successful one to date has been IP-XACT. There is massive level of IP reuse today and the lack of standards has not slowed that. I am seeing that the way the industry is handling this problem is through the deployment of pre-integrated subsystems that include both a collection of IP blocks and the embedded software that drives it. I think that within another five years, the idea of “Lego-like” construction tools will die as they do nothing to solve the verification problem associated with such constructions.

Have you any statistics you can share on the value or TAM (Total Available Market) for EDA IP?
WS: I assume you mean IP? Which I like to point out is distinctive from EDA. True, many EDA players are adopting an IP strategy but that is primarily because the growth in IP and the stagnation of the EDA markets are forcing those players to find new growth areas. Sustained double-digit growth is hard to ignore.

To the TAM (total available market) question, a lot of market research says the market is around $2billion today. I have long postulated that the real IP market is at least twice the size of the stated market, sort of like the “dark matter” theories in astrophysics. But even this ignores considerable amounts of patent licensing, embedded software licensing and such which dwarf the $2billion number.

TF: According to EDAC Semiconductor IP revenue totaled $486million, a 4.2% increase compared to Q4 2012 and four-quarters moving average increased 9.6%.

EC: For interface IP, I can see a market for interface IP – sharing no processor, no ARM, to grow 20% to $400million [Analyst IP Nest].

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