Get email delivery of the Cadence blog featured here
Last week I captured the highlights of the progress we’ve made in the past 30 years in the blog post, 30 Years of Innovation – We’ve come so far. And while I’ve witnessed a lot of these changes over the years, I feel like we have so much further to go. Here are the four:
Chips keep getting bigger, fab processes keep moving to smaller geometries, and the tools used to design chips have to be continually improved. That’s why Cadence spends almost 40% of its revenues on research and development. It takes big teams of expensive, highly trained engineers to develop and enhance these tools.
These tools are under constant revision to update to meet the latest design challenges. From 2014 through 2017, for example, Cadence completely revamped its digital design tools from synthesis to sign-off and physical verification. Why? As design moved to the multi-million-gate FinFET era, old algorithms for digital design just couldn’t keep up. The speed of technological change will make us continue to invest in new tools.
No longer can a chip designer just be concerned about the chip itself. Packaging and even board-level concerns all need to be considered. Key to designing with a systems approach is a streamlined and automated co-design and verification flow between IC, package, and PCB design. The Cadence Virtuoso® System Design Platform insures just that, providing a cross-platform solution that allows chip design in the context of the package and system.
Many of today’s analog, RF, and mixed-signal designs require the integration of multiple ICs across varying substrate technologies to achieve required performance goals. Heterogeneous integration helps designers achieve results that can’t be easily duplicated with a monolithic IC design approach, but also introduces a whole new set of challenges. The Virtuoso System Design Platform streamlines and automates the design of packages and modules that feature multiple ICs and off-chip devices.
We recently introduced many enhancements to our Virtuoso product family, and we will need to continue to do this to make chip/package/board design easier and more productive.
Today’s innovative products must be designed holistically, with an overall view of the hardware and the software that will make them stand out in the marketplace. This new design methodology requires designers to think about the entire design process, from the chips/packages/boards to the software. In many electronic systems, software represents the greatest cost, and its development can no longer wait until the hardware is fully designed and built.
Yes, to develop application software, companies already have a huge ecosystem – mostly open source – of compiler, debuggers, and code analysis tools. But when it comes to a complete system design, many software interfaces are those that most people never see but are essential for the efficient working of that system. This software often provides the necessary instructions on how each chip in the system communicates and transfers data to and from other hardware. If there are flaws in this essential background software, the very feature-rich application software malfunctions or even grinds to a halt.
The question is: how can this software be tested reliably before all the hardware components are delivered? If designers wait until the hardware is fabricated, how late will they be to market with a compelling product?
Cadence has made huge investments in four areas that let designers consider the software early in the design cycle, and will need to continue investing in this area:
While Cadence’s tools concentrate on electrical design, we work closely with partners in mechanical design to offer a strong co-development environment.
Our Allegro design tools provide co-design with leading MCAD tools, including interconnect exchange and reduction in electronic-mechanical design iterations. Our PCB design products integrate with the corporate supply chain to eliminate unnecessary design re-spins and delays.
Connecting both the electrical and mechanical hardware development to corporate data systems is one way in which companies are increasing the connection between electrical and mechanical. This integration makes it possible to manage cost and quality, support on-time release to manufacturing, and capture information needed to acquire supplies such as components, connectors, and cables.
Is there ever a conclusion in EDA? Technology keeps advancing, and we keep striving to keep up and let designers do more and more. Cadence cannot rest on its laurels and needs to continue to innovate to remain a leader!