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Processor core provider confesses chip design is a struggle

Posted: 11 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:design chip processor? EDA tools? Handshake Solutions core?

Clockless logic circuit developer Handshake Solutions of Eindhoven, The Netherlands, a wholly owned subsidiary of Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV, has taken the unusual step of issuing a press release to proclaim that semiconductor design is "struggling."

The company said that creativity is going to be pivotal in turning the situation around but that no one has managed to take managed to take the fundamental steps needed to solve the industry's problem.

"Let the designers rule their creative process, instead of having EDA tools running the show," said Wout Van Roost, CEO of Handshake Solutions, in a statement that did not offer a detailed alternative to current design methods.

The statement, stayed at a high level as it called for the semiconductor industry to "urgently re-design its EDA strategy in order to survive in today's nanotechnology age." The statement went on to assert that current electronic design methods were "cumbersome" and produced a "toddler building block" results.

"The only way forward to achieving breakthrough electronic design innovations is to prioritize the creative process once again and end the predominant influence of the production process," the statement argued.

According to the company, the semiconductor industry has gradually become deadlocked, which is hampering progress. For more than a decade, the progress in electronic design has been unable to match the innovation rate and capabilities of the process technology.

This is sometimes called the design productivity gap, although that is based on the assumption that designs have to take advantage of twice as many transistors ever 18 months or two years.

"The semiconductor industry has excelled for years in production process control to optimize yield and minimize risk in order to survive in the highly dynamic and cyclical market. Unfortunately the same production process philosophy also became embedded in the design department, so there has been a tendency to lose track of the essence of creativity," the statement said.

"Other industries have benefited from the production process control knowledge developed by the semiconductor industry, now it's our turn to learn from those other industries' design innovation," said Van Roost. "We must empower our electronics designers and unlock this huge pool of untapped creativity."

The statement added, "Creativity has been the differentiating factor that has brought success in other industries such as fashion, real estate, automotive and consumer electronics. This has mainly been achieved by anticipating or listening to future customer's requirements and wishes, then allowing creative people to translate these into imaginative concepts.

- Peter Clarke
EE Times Europe

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