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System-level design seeks traction

Posted: 24 Feb 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:system-level design? eda? software co-design? co-verification? ic design?

The move to system-level design, which is seen as critical as the industry moves to 90nm and lower, has been slowed by a lack of investment, doubts about any quick return on investment along with a shortage of systems designers and standards, U.S. experts said.

A panel at the Design, Automation and Test in Europe conference on Thursday (February 19, 2004) warned that SLD tools remain out of the mainstream in part because system makers aren't convinced that new tools will provide the performance increase needed to justify the investment.

SLD tools are too expensive, and companies "don't want to spend the money," said EDA expert Simon Davidman.

As a result, SLD market forecasts remain guarded. Third-generation ESL tools providing full hardware and software co-design and co-verification are expected to arrive by 2006, according to estimates by market researchers Dataquest. By that time, the market is expected to be worth $250 million.

If the right tools arrive, the number of SLD designs and engineers could take off. Many are expected to come from existing IC design groups. However, "We don't know for that's going to happen," said Dataquest senior analyst Gary Smith.

European companies have moved fastest to embrace SLD tools along with Japanese firms. Consumer electronics companies have been most aggressive, said Mark Milligan, marketing VP at CoWare. Only a handful of U.S. companies have so far embraced the design technology. "U.S. companies have been extremely slow" to adopt SLD, Smith said.

Along with consumer electronics, emerging applications like automotive electronics are expected to make greater use of SLD, Milligan said.

Standards will also be critical to adoption of system level design. System C could help lead the way, panelists said. "System C is an important part of the picture," Smith said.

- George Leopold

EE Times

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