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Emerging DFM, verification technologies most exciting, CTOs say

Posted: 14 Jun 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:verification? eda?

Emerging technologies for design for manufacturing (DFM) and verification are the most exciting developments in the design realm, concluded a panel of chief technology officers convened here Monday (June 13) at the Design Automation Conference (DAC).

The 60-minute panel discussion, comprised of the CTOs of the world's two biggest EDA vendors-Cadence Design Systems Inc. and Synopsys Inc.- as well as Chris Malachowsky, CTO and co-founder of Nvidia Corp., covered a wide range of design business and technology topics.

Ted Vucurevich, Cadence CTO, said he is "really excited" about the "tremendous" DFM solutions that EDA vendors are just beginning to roll out. He added that successful DFM solutions must be able to deal with manufacturing variability.

Vucurevich said he was also excited about developments taking place in the verification space, adding, "We are seeing verification grow up."

Vucurevich said he believes that verification intellectual property (IP) and methodological approaches to verification will have major impacts in the space. Cadence detailed its strategy for enterprise verification process automation earlier Monday.

Malachowsky said he was also excited to see the maturation of verification, something he believes he played a role in. "I am very excited to see these technologies essentially leaving the labs," he said.

While Nvidia (Santa Clara, Calif.) used to hire outside vendors who specialized in formal verification to handle the process, Malachowsky said the company's internal design teams now have the tools to handle the task internally. Malachowsky specifically mentioned Synopsys' Magellan register transfer level (RTL) formal verification and an offering from Jasper Design Automation (Mountain View, Calif.) as products his company uses for verification.

"The verification world is changing," Malachowsky said.

Raul Camposano, Synopsys CTO, said he was excited about the way that the way that the manufacturing and design communities are interacting as a response to DFM challenges. Camposano noted the presence at DAC of several companies traditionally focused on manufacturing issues. He mentioned Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and lithography simulation software provider Sigma-C as tool examples.

Camposano said verification has made very good progress over the past 10 years in the areas of static timing, crosstalk and signal integrity.

Vucurevich said the EDA industry must focus on giving customers the ability to do more verification with less effort.

University of California, Berkeley professor Kurt Keutzer, who served as the panel's moderator, asked Camposano and Vucurevich if they believed that Cadence was more likely to gain technology through acquisition while Synopsys was more likely to develop it internally. Both fundamentally agreed.

"That's a hard question," Vucurevich said. "If you look at the longer term, three-to-five year timeframe, I think that's very true."

Responding to a question about whether EDA vendors were providing the tools that Nvidia needed, Malachowsky gave tool vendors relatively high marks. He said the "basic pieces" of capabilities that his company needs are available and that EDA vendors are improving steadily. While he said the capacity of tools after they are first introduced needs to be improved, Malachowsky said, "The sense is that our back is being covered," by the EDA vendors.

Results of an EE Timessurvey co-sponsored by Deutsche Bank, released Monday found mixed responses about how customers feel EDA vendors are meeting their needs.

Malachowsky said he believes that the rising cost of designing and manufacturing chips will result in future chips being designed for multiple markets and applications.

"My view of the future of chip design is that it's expensive enough, and detail oriented enough that unless you have are going to find a big enough market to amortize the costs, it doesn't make sense to have anything but standard products," Malachowsky said.

- Dylan McGrath

EE Times

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