Feb 05 2010

Going Beyond and Returning to Reusability

Published by at 9:35 am under The Profession

Design for the Consumer Era is seen as the next iteration of the infamous Design-for-X paradigm shift by keynote presenter at DesignCon 2010.

One seldom hears anything new or earthshaking at keynote presentations. Instead, good keynote addresses are like filters and amplifiers that simplify complex messages while refreshing their meaning. This is how I would characterize the message delivered by Dr Alex Shubat – CEO and Co-founder of Virage Logic - at Wednesday’s lunchtime keynote at DesignCon 2010.

His keynote focused on the technology and business trends that are pushing SoC designers and companies alike to move beyond the theme of reusability. Design reuse (DFR-Design for Reusability) was a big driver in the ’90s and ’00s. Reuse was part of the productivity era that started with the creation of design automation in the ’80s.

Design Paradigm Progression

Shubat reminded his audience this productivity push was overlapped by today’s ongoing focus on manufacturability which is highlighted by such well-used acronyms as DFM, DFT and DFY, all of which led to the latest Design-for-X terminology for this new decade, namely, Design for Consumer Era (DFC). Interestingly, this seems very similar to the Department of Defense’s Design-to-Cost (DTC) realization during the military cost cutting era of the ’80s and ’90s – without the emphasis on consumerism.

Still, many would argue that the Design-for-Consumer approach is very similar to the Design-to-Cost method in the recognition that cost or rather shrinking profit margins are a key driver in design architectures.

Adding a slight spin to this latest “design” iteration came from a quick chat after the keynote with Brani Buric, executive VP of marketing and sales at Virage Logic. Buric suggested that Design-for-Profitability (DFP) might be an even better phrase to capture the latest reality adjustment for EDA design tool vendors and semiconductor companies.

Regardless of the “D-word” terminology, the SoC design challenges remain frustratingly the same, summed up by increasing complexity, shrinking Time-to-Market and (now) lower profit margins. Shubat concluded his presentation by noting the trend of shrinking size in electronics. Yesterday’s printed-circuit boards are now today’s complex chips that will become tomorrow’s reusable IP.

Some will note that ending suggests a return to reusability, in contrast to the keynote title of “Going beyond Reusability.” But as Shubat explained during his talk, reusability in the ’90s was intended to handle complexity. Today, reusability is seen as the best way to handle complexity as well as cost. In the growing world of electronic consumerism, volumes are high, profit margins are low, and cost (or profitability?) becomes the next “X” for which we need to design.

Reference on DFX:
EDA Could Learn a Lot from Systems Engineering

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