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DAC highlights diversity, innovation

Posted: 15 Jun 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:design automation? EDA tools? design methodologies?

The 2011 Design Automation Conference showed a double digit increase in all attendance categories, according to the 48th DAC Executive Committee.

As a bellwether event for design engineers using EDA tools, DAC enables the research community to share the latest results from design automation tool developments, design methodologies and the increasingly important software/hardware developments in embedded designs.

Bratin Saha, an Intel principal engineer and manager in the SW Reuse and Convergence SoC Enabling Group, proposed a layered modular architecture called Cirus for SoC drivers to enable aggressive driver code reuse between OSes and platforms. Saha discussed the implementation of such architecture in a media driver that is highly reusable across SoCs in different market segments and operating systems.

For his part, Intel researcher Shekhar Borkar talked about the EDA challenges for 3D integration. These include model noise coupled from TSVs (through-silicon-vias) to each other and to other interconnects and model clock skews and jitter across multiple stacked dies. With power to the stack delivered through successive dies in the stack, starting from the bottom most, optimizing power delivery to the entire stack is a necessity, according to Borkar.

"Floor-planning of each die needs to be done considering TSV locations on each die, and this step may even drive the final placement of TSVs," according to Borkar's paper.

Thermal considerations for TSVs is the biggest challenge for EDA tools, according to Borkar, and include: modeling of heat flow, estimating temperature based on power consumption, providing input for partitioning, inserting TSVs to conduct heat, and overall global optimization of the 3D stack for thermals.

SoC shifts
Gadi Singer, vice president of the Intel architecture group and general manager of SOC Enabling Group, said that the EDA industry faces a substantial shift to deal with electronic systems that are going through fundamental and rapid change in "domains ranging from TVs and in-vehicle devices to phones, tablets, and even PCs."

In his Wednesday keynote, Singer warned that today's SoC has become "a system of systems, not just a system." He proposed five principles for the EDA industry to adopt the following: (1) the user model needs to be applied to designs; (2) apply system world capabilities to the silicon world; (3) optimization needs to be across ICs, systems and software; (4) be agile and learn from iterations as in the software world; and (5) hardware IP should come with firmware and drivers, and verification suites.

Singer called for EDA to accept "new challenges with a sense of urgency" lest they miss their value-creating opportunities which will manifest in five to ten years.

In her keynote on Tuesday Freescale executive Lisa Sue made her pitch for bringing software together into the chip development tent in order to create the needed value for designers.

Meanwhile, peripheral to EDA developments there were a few interesting technical papers on diverse topics.

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