Open standards are better than open source
Gabriel Lezmi, v-p European sales at Synopsys tells Electronics Weekly about the rise and rise of IP and the importance of open stantards rather than open source in the design software market.
What impact is the open source revolution having on traditional design tool software?
Gabriel Lezmi says: Software may have had some impact on open source a few years back, but today that is not the case in EDA.
In EDA, the focus is on making tools compliant with standards that are open rather than on developing tools that are open source.
Interestingly, the only successful implementation we are aware of in support of an “Open Source Revolution” in the EDA area is that of the SystemC reference implementation by OSCI. That effort was driven by, and strongly deployed in, European participant companies such as STMicroelectronics and NXP.
Another example in the US is that of UVM (Universal Verification Methodology) which has recently come up under Accellera.
With Accellera and OSCI merging by the end of the year, these types of collaborative implementation efforts may gain more traction.
What challenges in global markets are keeping you busy at the moment?
Gabriel Lezmi says: The semiconductor industry went global very rapidly. Back-end manufacturing, testing and assembly have been global for many years and there is now a clear trend for globalisation of design activities.
It is common to see large design teams spread across the world and this only adds to the overall complexity of the design effort. When you add this complexity to the increasing challenge to deliver designs that have better performance and power use, are delivered sooner, and are cheaper to produce, you can see how delivering on our customers’ expectations is keeping us busy.
If you had to name one design technology with the largest commercial potential this year, what would it be?
Gabriel Lezmi says: Intellectual property (IP) is the highest area of growth for us this year. We estimate that only about 25% of IP is currently outsourced.
Today, next to ARM, which focuses primarily on embedded processors, we are the second-largest IP supplier and the leading supplier of standards-based interface, analogue, and memory IP. All of these are in great demand for the mobile market.
What does the UK/Europe need to do to ensure it retains a leading position in the global market?
Gabriel Lezmi says: Europe holds several leading positions in key market segments such as automotive, telecom infrastructure and mobile devices. Europe has a real expertise in analogue, analogue RF, and processor core technology.
We believe Europe will also have a key role in the emerging “smart everything” market. Several European companies already lead these markets.
This expertise is one of the reasons we have a European team of more than 1000 R&D engineers working from system level to manufacturing, and collaborating with European partners to continue to innovate.
Fabless companies in the UK and the rest of Europe need to reach a critical size and become global. CSR is a successful example of a European fables company. A dynamic environment for startups is also needed to maintain European leadership.
What is the biggest opportunity in terms of chip design technology and/or markets in 2011?
Gabriel Lezmi says: Three major market opportunities have risen to the top in 2011 – mobile devices, ‘cloud’ infrastructure, and “smart everything”.
In the mobile market, semiconductor companies are grappling with the technical challenge of increasing speed without increasing power. These highly competitive customers are racing to meet market windows while, of course, also aiming at the lowest possible production cost.
The ‘cloud’ is a system of massive datacenters running very high-performance servers offloading compute and storage-intensive tasks from the portable devices.
The technical need here is symmetric: decrease power while delivering the highest possible performance.
The rest of the electronics industry, be it in the automotive, industrial, or consumer segments, is seeing significant growth in silicon content through an explosion of embedded “smart everything” chips.