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Our Cadence colleague, Nimish
Modi, SVP of Marketing and Business Development, has called them "seams": gaps that emerge as electronics system
design gets more complex. These seams occur when teams
focus on components of the larger electronic system design. Yet how can they not focus, given the relentless increase
Get out the glue
One answer emerged at a DVCon
panel March 5: The "glue engineer," a brilliant and energetic traffic cop of
sorts who oversees and understands the implications of all aspects of the
design verification and can arbitrate disputes. But that traffic cop—even if he's
called a system architect—doesn't really exist today.
Take, for example, Frank
Schirrmeister's anecdote. Schirrmeister, Cadence's group director for product
marketing of the System Development Suite, quipped that it's not uncommon for members of a given company's
hardware and software design or verification teams to meet and exchange
Speaking on Semiconductor
Engineering Editor Ed Sperling's DVCon panel (pictured, right), Schirrmeister said:
"Do we need a
new generation of engineer? A new person who is deep enough to do both [hardware and software verification] because I don't see the software guys
moving... and I don't see the hardware guys [moving] because they're both so busy,
they're focusing on their individual problems."
Ken Knowlson, principal engineer at Intel, has a ringside view to the
like to think are systems engineers ... are more like ‘glue' engineers. The glue
is to know enough about the specific firmware to take it and modify it and work
with the design guys. I can get the architects early, but getting people who
actually know the code to participate early enough? It's always going to be a
But Sandeep Pendharkar, vice president and head of product engineering
at Vayavya Labs, who participated on the DVCon verification panel with
Knowlson, Schirrmeister, and others suggest progress is being made:
customers take a pragmatic approach. One of the gentlemen with whom I've been
talking has actually hired three software engineers to be part of the design
verification team. All that these software engineers do is they just write
device driver code in C. The verification engineers then sit with them to
understand it and, if required, create an equivalent System Verilog for that
side of things."
many ways the onus for managing this problem may fall to EDA vendors, according
"glue person" needs to "know enough about both sides to be dangerous and to
challenge a bluff from the hardware or software side that it's not their
problem. But we as EDA vendors need to provide the environment that you can do
that efficiently from both sides," Schirrmeister added.
There is opportunity where those seams, as Modi has called them,
emerge. But it is in increasing design services, as one reporter asked Cadence
CEO Lip-bu Tan at a March 11 CDN Live press session?
Tan wasn't asked directly about the need for glue engineers or
seams, but he said:
"Would the customer need help in design? Absolutely.
Are we going to build that business? Not now. We shift a lot of design services
into IP. We help them tape out on time and on schedule. Clearly design services
needs to tie into IP."
And while it may not be that design services per se is the
answer, it falls most likely to EDA companies to fill these seams and, in
effect, become the glue engineers of this emerging era of systems design
--2013: Quickening the Pace of Electronics Innovation?