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Intel's Singer calls for 'platform-oriented' tools

Posted: 12 Apr 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:intel? eda? ic? systems-on-chip? communications device?

Calling on the EDA industry to broaden its scope, Intel executive Gadi Singer cited the need for tools that support complete "platforms," including multiple chips and software, in a keynote speech at the Electronic Design Processes (EDP).

Singer is general manager of Intel's Low Power IA and Technology Group, and vice president of Intel's Mobility Group. His talk, entitled "Emergence of platform-oriented design," also cited some of the tradeoffs between large intact design teams and distributed groups of smaller teams.

"There's a major shift that started three years ago and is accelerating," Singer said. "It's the next challenge for EDA beyond ICs and systems-on-chip. That's the emergence of connected computing and communications platforms." In the future, Singer said, all communications devices will compute, and all computers will communicate.

Singer's notion of platform-oriented design is not the same as the "platform-based design" concept that's been applied to single chips. A platform, in Singer's view, is a complete system. He cited as an example the Centrino mobile technology platform, which includes one or more processors, a chip set, an applications stack, and a communications protocol stack, among other components.

The EDA industry has much to do to step up from single-chip solutions to complete platforms, Singer said. One requirement is to raise the abstraction level to support electronic system level (esl) design, high-level modeling, and hardware/software codesign.

"Today the EDA industry gives you a very strong path from rtl down to silicon," Singer said. "If you look above that, people are capturing micro-architectural and system capabilities, but it's with different models that are disconnected from RTL."

John Darringer, manager for system-level design at IBM's T.J. Watson research center, made a very similar observation about this disconnection as he appealed for system-level design tools in a Thursday keynote at EDP.

ESL need not be fully automated, Singer said. "We got spoiled by logic synthesis," he said. "It's such an effective tool from RTL on down that we got to thinking we'd only address higher levels if it gave us the same level of automation. This attitude is not helpful."

Singer said that other platform-oriented design requirements include integration of analog and mixed-signal devices, better techniques for validation and certification, tool interoperability, multi-domain optimization, and support for widely dispersed development teams.

Singer also compared the relative tradeoffs of three possible approaches to a large design project: a single intact design team, an intact team distributed over different geographies, and an "assembly" of smaller teams.

The single intact team will have the best throughput, he said. But tapping different geographies can provide a stronger team, he said, and an assembly of small teams can potentially have better productivity per engineer. What's most important in managing dispersed teams, Singer said, is the "clarity and cleanliness" of the partitioning of the work.

Intel, Singer said, is "riding the curve" with a range of design team sizes and geographical partitioning.

- Richard Goering

EE Times

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