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Processors/DSPs??

Look at all angles when right-sourcing electronic designs

Posted: 13 May 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electronics design? right-sourcing? verification sources?

So far it seems like many of the initial concepts are still emanating from the good ol' U.S. of A., for example, iPhone, Kindle, XBOX-Kinect, GPS, among others. But then the global minds have adopted the age-old Japanese principle of 'kaizen' (i.e. continuous improvement) and are now offering bigger (or smaller), better, cheaper versions of the same new ideas. In the olden days it was easy for most Western economies as their concepts were brought to life in the same geography as they were consumed. Now that a farmer in China or a street-hawker in India has the same access and affordability enjoyed by a "salary-man" in Japan or a professional in New York, things have changed quite a bit. The improvements to the products as well as the design of products are now being done globally. Hence, new products must be able to comprehend the needs of the global buyer,

With the advent of semiconductor manufacturing technology into 40nm, 28nm and beyond for low power, high performance or both, a lot more functionality can now be packed into a small packagealong with processing power, memory depth and performance suitable for today's applications. One of the most vital design elements is the embedded processor, or in some cases MCU, with customized functionality. There could be multiple processors on a single board/chipfor modem processing, applications processing, graphics processing or signal processing. So, the likes of ARM, Atom, Nvidia, Imagination, DSPs from TI or ADI, are being widely used.

Designers need to define, implement and verify such SoC design with specialized processors embedded along with properly designed and interlaced memory blocks. More importantly, they should ensure that the software stack works on that system (on-chip) for complete OS bring up and application invocation. To do all these, designers need a few "old men" from my initial storyexperienced and skilled in exactly what they need to get done. In our world, unfortunately (or fortunately), there are no overnight senzations the likes of Susan Boyles and Ted Williams. In our world, the funny thing about experience is that it cannot be acquired overnight!

A company must combine the experience of delivering over 200 designs from start to finish with the skills of balancing power, performance, die size and tight time-to-volume in order to leverage the ever-expanding universe of consumers without missing the window of opportunity. It is important to look inside the company and outside, to "right-source" any such project. If it can be done with the experience, skills and bandwidth of internal designers, there is no reason to look elsewhere. But, if any one of these criteria cannot be fully satisfied, looking for 'best-in-class' sourcing of design implementation and verification may prove necessary.

So, don't be like that young man stuck on the highway in the middle of nowhere. Go and find the old man or somehow acquire his experience, skills and bandwidth to keep up with the fast-changing global market.

- Nitin Deo
?? president of U.S. operations
?? Concept2Silicon Systems Inc.


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