Social media and apps developers such as WhatsApp
(which Facebook bought in February for $19 billion) succeed on the shoulders of EDA, IP and
semiconductor companies, which aren't valued as highly. This is a message that
Cadence CEO and longtime venture capitalist Lip-Bu Tan has offered for some
And at this week's DVCon 2014 in a keynote address,
he returned to it--with a twist. As the pace of innovation changes and
quickens, a new breed of customer is embracing the value of the EDA, IP and semiconductor design
ecosystem by building their own components and subsystems with their own
That represents enormous opportunity for the
electronics design chain, Tan said. But at the same time, engineers still face
the verification bottleneck, slowing their path to market, and vendors need to
work diligently to ease this bottleneck.
"It's exciting to see all these systems
companies starting to appreciate the semiconductor's importance," Tan told
a packed ballroom at DVCon. "What you do and I do is so important
to them in terms of the services they want to provide us (as consumers)."
He added that any stall in innovation from EDA
and silicon vendors hampers the growth of social media and other similar
companies, and they realize it.
That's why it's crucial that the industry
continue to innovative along multiple vectors and work to reduce the amount of
design time taken up by verification.
With increased system-on-chip complexity comes
the need for more silicon-proven, quality IP blocks--much more. Tan shared
industry data that indicated at the 90nm node, an SoC contains an average of
18 IP blocks. At 14 nm, that's expected to be 123 blocks, a nearly 20 percent
jump from the 22/20nm node, according to the data.
He cited the 4X complexity increase frrom DDR1 to
DDR4, 2X increase from AMBA AXI to AMBA ACE and similar jumps from Gen 1 to Gen 3 of
"Clearly increasing complexity isn't
stopping. It's compounding even more," Tan said.
Referencing the increasing importance of
software as a key part of system design, Tan noted that verification remains a
bottleneck for engineers, occupying in some cases 80 percent of total design
"One of biggest bottlenecks is verification
and that's why we're all here, trying to figure out what are the
solutions," he said. "I've always believed as engineers, the more
challenge there is, the better we are."
Tan mentioned metric-driven verification as one
approach to tackle verification complexity in a systematic way.
The other way to confront increased complexity is
to move up in abstraction from RTL to TLM, not just for design but also
He referenced Cadence's recent acquisition of
Forte Design Systems as an important move in this
"I've been watching the company for nine
years. I thought it made sense to move to the next level. A lot of customers see the benefit of
System complexity and time-to-market pressures
also mean that hardware-software codesign and coverification "become very
real," Tan said, adding system-level analysis today "is
"Not just semiconductor companies, but systems
companies are moving down and they expect that (system-level approach). A lot
of customers are engaging with these tools. That's where we have to respond to
He closed with a call for the industry to work together to lure more teenagers
into electronics. He also said, "With all these drivers, and the
technology challenges, let's make it exciting to do innovative things."
--Interview with Lip-Bu Tan, Part 1 – How Cadence is Positioned to Build Upon Success
--Interview with Lip-bu Tan, Part 2: Energizing the Electronics Industry
--Cadence CEO at DAC 2013: 'I've Doubled, Tripled Down on Semiconductor Investment'