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EDA focus shifts to system level design

Posted: 24 Jan 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:system design  embedded software  hardware/software trade-off 

Companies designing complex electronics always face numerous challenges, which keep evolving, because each problem solved enables new advances that in turn lead to new challenges. The year ahead will see increased system engineering content in chip- and board-level designs.

Problems that used to be solvable at the physical or register transfer level (RTL) are now being increasingly impacted by system architecture. Much of the challenge of low power design used to be limited to the physical implementation, but now the primary impact is at the system architecture level. As a result, system design trade-offs are becoming an increasingly important part of the job of the chip designer.

Walden Rhines

Rhines: Merger of embedded software development and verification with hardware development and verification is driving analysis tools.

In 2011 and beyond, more and more of the design task will entail evaluating the chip architecture at the system level to optimise power and performance.

Previously, chip designers used to work independently from the embedded software developers. Now the development and verification of embedded software with hardware is the largest component of chip and system design.

Electronic design automation (EDA) companies used to ignore software and focus only on design of the chip hardware, but that has changed. For decades, integration of embedded software with hardware has been the place where the most significant problems have arisen. Although for the past 15 years EDA vendors have provided hardware/software co-verification tools, they have taken further steps recently as part of the movement towards system design. In a significant change, core development and verification of embedded software is now becoming a primary activity of EDA suppliers.

Embedded software can easily impact the power consumption of a chip design. Yet embedded software developers are usually unable to evaluate their software with quantitative measurements of expected power dissipation.

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