This article originally appeared in the Synopsys Insight Newsletter
Supporting the diverse requirements of IoT requires a wide range of different technologies for successful implementation – not necessarily just the most advanced technology. Many IoT devices are heterogeneous in nature, with a high degree of integration. The integration could be monolithic silicon, packaging or other means. What matters is the end result, not necessarily how we get there. The nature of the design means that the traditional ‘cost per transistor’ metric is becoming irrelevant. A more meaningful scaling metric is the system-level ‘cost per function.’
Advancing the process and packaging technology by itself is not enough to extract the full value from the product and translate it to IoT-level differentiation. Design teams have to consider the designability of the product by looking at the system-level and software challenges at an early stage in the design process, and choosing the right IT and EDA flows for implementation. The manufacturability aspects are generally not critical for many products in this sector but form factor (incorporating battery) and cost are important. The right choice of packaging remains important.
How we approach the design ecosystem is also vital for the success of the IoT market. We need a broad ecosystem that is both advanced and open so that design teams have the freedom to choose the design environments that best support their needs. We will move away from having customized flows that take a lot of time and money to set up and debug, in favor of modular, configurable platform flows that are pre-qualified and proven.
Generally, product teams are seeking roadmaps rather than point solutions. They want a high-level flow to enable them to differentiate at the technology level and a route from technology to product launch. They also need a clear path that defines how they will get to the next level of the application and next-generation product.
The IoT market is re-shaping the semiconductor supply chain. It is unlike other ‘killer app’ opportunities that we have seen before in that it is application-driven, highly fragmented and diverse. By contrast, the mobile phone sector, for example, is a high-volume single-product market built on common platform architectures.
Fulfilling the needs of diverse applications requires interoperability between IP, the ability to mix heterogeneous technologies and perform common optimizations. It is in the interest of the whole industry to work towards an open and transparent ecosystem if we are to take full advantage of the market potential for IoT.
Customers should have the flexibility to go wherever they want and select the best in any of the pieces of the solution in the supply chain, with the confidence that the pieces will fit together. To enable this, we need to focus on trusted collaborations to make those interoperable solutions available for customers to pick and choose.
The cost, competition and time-to-market challenges in the IoT ecosystem are limiting the time and resources that design teams have to create and qualify IP, flows and technology. It’s critical that the industry provides configurable, qualified solutions that are optimized for specific applications which work ‘out of the box’.
GLOBALFOUNDRIES is committed to working with Synopsys, and many other partners, to support open, yet tightly integrated and optimized solutions that will ensure design teams are successful in the IoT market.
Subramani Kengeri, Vice President of Global Design Solutions at GLOBALFOUNDRIES, is responsible for world-wide design engineering, semiconductor design eco-system development and design-technology co-optimization. He is also responsible for determining technology feasibility, competitiveness and manufacturability of technology platform through design-technology Interactions with customers, technology R&D and design eco-system. Subramani has 25 years semiconductor industry experience and has been granted 38+ U.S. patents. He holds a Master’s degree in electrical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT, Delhi) and a certificate in executive management from AeA/Stanford University.