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How manycore will reshape EDA

Posted: 04 May 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Electronic Design Automation? embedded systems? applications? digital IC?

For example, floor planning for complex giga-gate/GHz designs can require many months of designer time. By using a combination of coarse-grained and fine-grained processing capabilities in the Cadence digital flow, designers not only can abstract giga-gate/GHz designs overnight but also can create multiple floor plans in parallel.

Similarly, in the routing, extraction and physical verification engine, where a lot of code leverages fine-grained distributed processing and has been written with parallel processing in mind, a speedup of 3x over four CPUS and 6x over eight CPUs has been observed.

This is the kind of scalability that multithreaded architectures can provide, and it is imperative that EDA companies take full advantage of it.

What has yet to be seen is how EDA will reshape itself to support manycore designs (32 cores or more). A lot of fine-grained problems are not going to scale with manycore; many legacy applications will have to be retrofitted, and others will have to be rewritten.

Such rearchitecting will result in a new paradigm for EDA companies. We will see a focus not only on modifying tools and algorithms for manycore processors and GPUs but also for distribution across server farms and computing clouds. Clusters and clouds built out of manycore processors will provide opportunities for unparalleled compute resources.

EDA on the cloud is an exciting prospect. Cadence is using the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model to provide hosted design solutions, and it offers EDA software and intellectual property evaluation through the Xuropa cloud. At last year's Design Automation Conference, Bernie Meyerson, vice president of innovation at IBM, suggested cloud computing would become the dominant standard for EDA companies.

Certainly, cloud computing for EDA comes with its own challenges, including security, resource management and licensing issues.

If EDA manages the coming changes well, however, users will benefit from the inexpensive parallel computing possible with manycore and the scalable compute resources available in the age of cloud computing.

- Abha Maheshwari
??Product Manager, Cadence Design Systems

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