CDNLive! Silicon Valley, the annual Cadence U.S. user conference, opened in San Jose, California March 13, 2012 on an optimistic yet cautionary note. Keynote speakers from Cadence, TSMC and ARM each predicted a new era of innovation in the electronics industry, but also noted daunting challenges that will require closer and earlier collaboration.
This blog post summarizes the opening keynote by Lip-Bu Tan (right), president and CEO of Cadence. Keynotes were also given by Rick Cassidy, president of TSMC North America (report here), and Tom Lantzsch, executive vice-president of corporate development at ARM (report here).
Tan began by noting that the semiconductor and electronics industries are posed for rapid growth, with the semiconductor industry entering an era of expansion, according to a study by J.P. Morgan and the Global Semiconductor Alliance. He cited five trends driving this growth - apps, video, mobility, the cloud, and green technology. Of these, he focused primarily on video, mobility, and the cloud.
"Video is driving a lot of traffic," Tan said. "If you look at Cisco, they have predicted that 80% of their traffic will be video, including HD and 3D video." He also said that "mobile is everywhere and everything is mobile," and noted the rapid growth of smartphones and tablets, with shipments last quarter of 37 million iPhones and 11.2 million iPads. He noted that Pandora gets 60% of its traffic from mobile devices.
Up in the Clouds
The cloud, Tan said, is "almost everywhere now." He noted that Facebook has over 800 million users, and that iCloud has over 100 million users and growing. Amazon is building more and more data centers. "This is just the beginning of tremendous growth," he said. (Side note: at the recent EDA Consortium CEO forum, Tan talked about the power challenges that large data centers are experiencing.)
Tan noted that technology waves create new growth, and that each new computing cycle creates 10X more devices. The mobile Internet, he said, has a potential of 10 billion units by 2020. At the core of each device, he noted, is a specialized semiconductor.
More and more, big systems companies are recognizing the importance of semiconductor design. Tan noted that Apple has over 1,000 chip designers; that Oracle continued processor development after buying Sun Microsystems; and that Google is pursuing IC design following its purchase of Motorola.
Software applications are driving design at the silicon, system-on-chip (SoC), and systems level, Tan said. "This is why, in 2010, we launched the vision of EDA360," he said. "It's not in the future, it is now." EDA360 includes System Realization, SoC Realization, and Silicon Realization, and Tan noted that Cadence can help designers who work at each of these levels.
Meeting the Challenges
Despite all the promise, huge challenges remain. As process nodes shrink according to Moore's Law, Tan noted, new requirements such as double patterning arise. "More than Moore" technologies, such as analog/RF and sensors, will be increasingly important. Integration will become increasingly difficult. "When you put it all together you can have all kinds of interference, power leakage, and a small area. How you design is very challenging," Tan said.
One offering that makes advanced-node design less challenging is the Cadence Encounter Digital Implementation System 11.1, announced March 8. Tan hailed it as a "breakthrough" in IC physical design that can help designers achieve the best power, performance and area, and he said it provides the "fastest path" to 20nm design.
Stressing the need for deep and early collaboration, Tan also mentioned a vertical collaboration between ARM, TSMC and Cadence that resulted in the first 20nm Cortex-A15 tapeout. "This was not easy," he said. "We had to share risk, share resources, and work together."
"One thing that's very important for Cadence is to provide the customer's end customer with differentiating products," Tan said. "We cannot do that alone. We need all the key partners to collaborate with us, from the foundry partners to the IP partners all the way to the software developers. And we have to drive differentiation in a very timely fashion."
Other CDNLive! 2012 Keynote Blog Posts:
TSMC CDNLive! Keynote - "We Can Beat Moore's Law"
CDNLive! Keynote - New Horizons for ARM based SoCs