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An automobile is a perfect example of a "system of systems," according to Lip-Bu Tan, Cadence president and CEO. In a short visionary talk at last week's Design Automation Conference (DAC 2014), Tan talked about the challenges behind "system of systems" design and showed how it's changing relationships among various ecosystem players.
The DAC 2014 program featured brief "visionary talks" by each of the three major EDA CEOs preceding one of the DAC keynote speeches. Tan's talk, titled "Innovation in Systems of Systems," preceded a keynote speech by Karim Arabi, vice president of engineering at Qualcomm. Aart de Geus, Synopsys CEO, and Wally Rhines, Mentor Graphics CEO, gave visionary talks prior to other DAC keynotes.
After sharing a little about his personal history—a professional voyage that has taken him from a degree in nuclear engineering to becoming a leading semiconductor venture capitalist—Tan noted several key drivers behind today's semiconductor industry, including mobile, "Internet of Things," and cloud computing. He noted, however, that automotive electronics is growing at a 7.4% compound annual growth rate, exceeding the growth rate for the consumer and computer markets. "That's a lot of opportunity," he said.
Making the case that an automobile is a system of systems, Tan showed a list of more than 40 systems that may show up in today's cars. These include airbag deployment, adaptive front lighting, adaptive cruise control, engine control, an entertainment system, and much more. Many of these systems are safety functions that help avoid accidents. One of these days, Tan predicted, there will be cars that "have no driver."
"You would be surprised how many sensors are in your car," Tan said. He noted that leading automobile companies are "betting on semiconductors." One challenge is that automotive companies have long sales cycles compared to consumer mobile devices. (This point was also made in a DAC 2014 "dual keynote" by executives from Ford Motor Company and MathWorks—blog post here).
Systems of systems face development challenges from many directions, Tan noted. Those challenges include:
Further, the systems of systems ecosystem is "not business as usual." In-house innovation is possible but not easy. Vertical integration is not as simple as hardware integration. Time to market is important, but the first mover may not be the winner.
There is also a new customer interaction model, as illustrated in the figure below. Here, interaction between the end customer and the semiconductor component provider make it possible to develop hardware designs directly from end-customer needs. The semiconductor provider, original equipment manufacturer (OEM), and the original design manufacturer (ODM) all translate business needs into hardware requirements.
From a Cadence perspective, Tan said, "the systems companies are reaching up to us. I spend a lot more time with the end customers." Tool support for systems of systems must include hardware/software co-design and co-verification, system-level power and signal integrity analysis, and PCB and packaging design.
"Innovation in systems of systems requires closer collaboration than ever before," Tan concluded. "There is a lot of trust involved. This is growth for Cadence and growth for the EDA industry."
Related blog posts
Gary Smith at DAC 2014: How System Design is Changing Electronics
DAC 2014 Keynote: Imagination CEO Charts New Opportunities for Semiconductors
DAC 2014 Dual Keynote: How Automobiles are Getting Smarter
DAC 2014 Keynote: EDA Can Tap Into New Revenue Streams