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Archive for April, 2016

Lucio Lanza Joins ESDA Board

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Gabe Moretti, Senior Editor

In a major change of the board structure, the Electronic System Design Association (ESDA) has elected Dr. Lucio Lanza to its Board of Directors.  Previously the Board members were only officers, and in most cases CEOs of member companies, but in an effort to broaden the outlook of the board to encompass ESDA’s new mission a new prospective on the electronic industry is required.

Dr. Lanza, the 2014 Phil Kaufman award winner, has spent all of his professional career in the electronic industry and is now a leading Silicon Valley venture capitalist and industry observer.  I asked Lucio the reason for his decision to join the ESDA board.  “It is a very important time for the next generation of electronic products. In the next few years we are going to have more products created than in the history of mankind.  The responsibility of organizations like ESDA to help people create those products is pretty significant.  So we need to make sure that we get well organized and we all cooperate.”

As it is typical of Lucio, he looks at the entire scope of the problem and defines organizations like ESDA as principal facilitator of the upcoming major change in the industry.  When Lucio looks at the purpose of what was EDAC he points out that the EDA industry had traditionally concentrated in enabling the electronic industry to step from one process node to the next while maintaining development costs practically flat.   This has been the EDA’s Moore’s Law.  It has been a success, but the challenges are different now, at least for the vast majority of companies and ventures that are looking at developing IoT products.  And one of the signals that the EDA industry has recognized this fact is the change of the EDAC name to ESDA.

Much has already been written about the new name: ESDA, and how there might have been better choices.  Personally I am glad that at the time we did not name Accellera as the Electronic Standards Development Association, or EDAC would really have had a much harder task renaming itself.  But the aim was to make a statement that electronic products are now much more than an orderly collection of silicon transistors, and that engineers require more than traditional EDA tools to efficiently develop them.  So the word “system” provides the best description of the problem to be solved.  The method to develop hardware has changed with the use of IP blocks, and the use of software has increased significantly.  The way Lucio explains it, makes it so clear that now I appreciate what motivated the name change.

Lucio points out that: “The traditional EDA tools are no longer sufficient to fulfill its own Moore’s Law.  In the last few years what engineers needed to design SoCs was availability of IP.  The issue became “Is there the right IP?”  Because up to 80% of the chip is not new development but new or modified IP.  Somehow we ended up designing new chips by assembling IP and designing only a minor portion from scratch.”

In looking at the state of development today Lucio found that many developers are spending ten times more in software than they are in hardware development and debug. He continued by pointing out that this is the problem to be addressed.  His message is that EDA intended as the provider of all development tools and methods, must find a way to bring the IP vendors and the software modules and tools providers to realize that everyone will benefit from a well-planned coordination on the supply side of the equation.

My next question dealt with how could ESDA contact a software tool company and convince it that it is in the common interest to “design together”.  “There are two steps here” said Lucio “the first step, which I cannot say I am an expert in, so I am very very humble, is to find out what is the environment today.  Are there companies that are already trying to do that?  If so, is there something we can do to help these people to acquire visibility?”  The second question is “Is there a way that potential users can encourage these companies and others to strengthen and expand such approach is the follow on question.  Organizations like ESDA must become the leaders in organizing and supporting this work.”

The just announced agreement between ESDA and Semico says Lucio is a way to understand that we are all after the same goals.   “if we cooperate the efficiency of the industry will increase and we all will benefit, not just benefit as businesses, but benefit as society.”

EDA Consortium Renamed Electronic System Design Alliance

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Gabe Moretti, Senior Editor

It is possible that names matter, but they only do if what they stand for reflect the intent.  A few days ago the EDA Consortium (EDAC) changed its name to the Electronic System Design (ESD) Alliance, an international association of companies providing goods and services throughout the semiconductor design ecosystem.

“EDAC was formed in 1989 during the go-go years,” says Robert Smith, its Executive Director. “EDA still is mission critical for chip design, but other complementary technologies and solutions are required to drive the design ecosystem. We intend to bring them all together under the ESD Alliance umbrella with an expanded scope of interest for a much broader design community.”

One thing that immediately comes to mind is that “ESDA” is not unique.  It turns out that ESDA means a number of things not associated with the new Alliance.  There is a group within the electronic industry called Electrostatic Discharge Association (ESDA) and also we have the Emergency Service Disaster Agency (ESDA).  Exclusivity in a search is therefore not guaranteed

But the new name has been chosen so the two names indicate that:

1)      The organization is still focused on electronics

2)      It still deals with design issues

3)      It is not focused anymore on automation of design functions but more on the creation and building of systems

4)      According to the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus Consortium is a synonym of Alliance so nothing changes as far as the organization style is concerned.

Let’s see what is behind the change.

“The ESD Alliance reflects the sea change happening in the semiconductor industry as chip design takes a more system-oriented approach,” remarks Lip-Bu Tan, president and CEO of Cadence Design Systems and co-chairman of the ESD Alliance Board of Directors. “With a new identity and expanded mission, the ESD Alliance is well-positioned to embrace and represent the design ecosystem now and in the future.”

.  By the way do we also need to change the name of our industry from EDA to ESD?

Electronic design always needed to have a system oriented approach, even if only a portion of the system was implemented on one die.  Engineers still assembled a system from a number of components.  Today so many transistors can be built on a die to make it possible to actually implement an entire system on one component.

Under its expanded charter, the ESD Alliance will deliver a forum for the interests of the integrated circuit (IC) and system design ecosystem, a critical component to the ongoing success of the $360 billion worldwide Semiconductor Industry.

New ESD Alliance initiatives are being formed to address the larger design ecosystem that includes semiconductor intellectual property (IP), embedded software, advanced packaging for system scaling and service companies that provide design know-how and resources. Working groups are being formed in all of these areas to focus on unique challenges and opportunities. They complement existing committees dedicated to the ecosystem’s interest in export, interoperability, license management and antipiracy, market statistics and trade shows.