Taken for Granted

ESL, embedded processors, and more

DAC 2012: The Return of the Platform (Again!)

Filed under: Uncategorized — June 5, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

I was at Gary Smith EDA’s pre-Dac Sunday evening talk in San Francisco Sunday June 3, 2012, and was interested to see him lead off with a discussion of what he calls “Multi-Platform Based Design”.

This was especially interesting to me. It was 13 (Thirteen!) years ago, in 1999, that I co-wrote with several colleagues “Surviving the SOC Revolution: A guide to platform-based design” (available from Springer here, Amazon here).

And then I followed that up four years later with “Winning the SOC Revolution: Experiences in real design”, which picked up the platform-based design theme with a number of real instances (available from Springer here, Amazon here).

The academic world took note of this phenomenon 13 years ago too, with one seminal paper being – K. Keutzer, S. Malik, A. R. Newton, J. M. Rabaey, and A. L. Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, “System-level design: Orthogonalization of concerns and platform-based design,” IEEE Trans. Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems, vol. 19, no. 12, pp. 1523-1543, Dec. 2000.

There have been many commentaries on Gary Smith’s talk and his concept of Multi-Platform Based Design, so I won’t repeat a summary here.  You can read:

You can also get Gary Smith EDA’s Multi Platform Based Design as a pdf here, and Gary Smith EDA will sell you a research report on it here.

But we’ve been here before.  In fact, at DAC 2010, I wrote my first “Return of the Platform” post!    Is this a case of the phenomenon being observed, then people forgetting about it (all too quickly) and then it being rediscovered?  I don’t think so.   Maybe the analysts forget, but the industry has been working in this space for a long time.

Of course, in 13 years, lots have changed.  From simple platforms to complex ones; from single platforms to indeed, aggregations of “Multi-Platforms”.  Some people are trying to skip the “P”-word (Platform) entirely and call them IP subsystems, as with this note by Neil Hand of Cadence.  But no matter what you call it, if you look beneath the surface, you will find the platform concept.

I’m looking forward to DAC 2014, where Platforms may come back again.    Platforms Redux!

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