In the lab, no one can hear you scream!
When I was getting my BSEE in the 1980s and studying analog and communications, my friends would say, “Why are you studying that old dinosaur, digital is where it’s at!”. Well, far from being consigned to the La Brea tar pit, analog is once again on the upswing as companies seek ways to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. Over the last several months, I have been reading commentary (most notably from Texas Instruments) and listening to editors talk about the importance of analog and mixed-signal design to propel the electronics of the future which rely heavily on being able to interact with people, who are classically analog.
The difficulty with analog is a time-honored tradition, literally and figuratively. Analog, RF and strongly-analog mixed-signal design, all require a longer design time due to the hand-crafting involved. Classic digital design benefits from both uniformity of design and the homogeneity of cells so that the ability to synthesize a design is relatively easy, and the ability to create millions of transistors designs with full verification is an everyday occurrence. But an RF component of two dozen transistors can take a month to realize as part of the overall chip design. It is this time scaling that presents one of the larger challenges for doing mixed-signal design. At Cadence, we are lucky to have both extensive and strong technology in all of the disciplines that are required to do proper mixed-signal design. And given our breadth, we are also well positioned to bring together the best in class design methodologies in each of those domains to form the leading mixed-signal design solution. The Virtuoso group takes ideas from both the Incisive and Encounter groups to look for opportunities to speed up the analog portion of the design, while maintaining the accuracy required. From Incisive we learn the best ways to handle textural design elements, using compiled databases to speed the simulation, and using test vectors during the verification phase of the design. From Encounter, we learn the best strategies for designing for low-power, and how to combine routing and placement automation with the “assistance” in both of these areas demanded by the “hand-crafters” in the analog space. Combine this breadth of technology with Cadence’s 20 years of experience providing complete analog solutions to the electronics industry allows our analog customers to be the T-Rex’s of their company.
So, give a good roar…and try to keep the belching to a minimum.