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Earlier this year, we performed the annual high-level synthesis (HLS) industry survey to get an idea of the industry’s expectations of HLS. As in last year’s survey, approximately half of the responses were from current HLS users, and half were from non-users. This year’s anonymous survey focused on HLS usage and expectations.
As usual, I’ll walk through the questions one by one below, but first let me give you what I find to be the most interesting and exciting result.
Across the electronics industry, 39% of respondents believe that within three years, the majority of their organization’s digital design will be done with HLS.
While I’m not able to predict the future like Carnac the Magnificent, based on what I've been hearing as I talk to users and potential users, that feels about right.
Now, on to the survey...
This was a good cross-section of high-level synthesis users and non-users, which I was very happy to see. The numbers are high enough that they are likely a decent representation of the industry.
The next question is for respondents who are currently using HLS or have used HLS in the past.
I ask this question each year, because it helps to see how HLS usage is changing and diversifying. The results disprove the stereotype that HLS is only used for datapath-centric applications. Controllers and processors (15.8%) are mainly control logic, and the networking applications (17.5%) tend to be a strong mix of control and datapath.
Other takeaways are that machine learning (4.1%) and wireless networking (9.9%) have grown significantly this year. That indicates that HLS usage in those segments is growing faster than the other segments in the graph. Not shocking, as 5G and machine learning are two of the hottest areas in electronics these days.
While it is true that 45.5% of respondents believe this will take at least 5 years (and I’m sure some would have responded with “never,” had that been an option), that means for the first time a majority believe the transition to HLS will happen sooner. Even more interesting, as I highlighted at the top of this article, is that 38.6% believe this change will happen in less than three years.
Digging into this a bit deeper, I found a direct correlation between company size (expressed as “number of designers in your organization”) and the time frame by which HLS will be the way that the majority of digital hardware is designed.
Not surprisingly, designers at smaller companies believe the transition will happen faster than those at larger companies. At the smaller companies, 47.1% of respondents believe HLS will be the way design is being done in 3 years, whereas only 20.0% believe HLS will have permeated their entire company.
This should make for an exciting new year for Stratus HLS!
One final note... congratulations to Komiya-san of Renesas who won the survey's grand prize, a GoPro HERO!