EDTN Network     October 15, 2000

The Technology Site for Engineers and Technical Management

 arrow Home : Design

Advanced Search

Click Here To Visit Sager!

EDA News

News Channels
Systems & Software
Design Automation

In Focus
Special Reports
Immortal Works

  Ask the Headhunter
Salary Survey
Times People
Mentoring Board

Conference Coverage
On-line Seminars

  Product of the Week
Focus on

EDTN Network
  EDTN Home
EDTN e-cyclopedia
Broadcast News
Planet Analog

EETimes Info
  Editorial Contacts
Sales Contacts
Media Kit
Reader Service
Product Central
Custom Supplements

Click here! Click here Network Partners

 Privacy Statement


Panel pits quality design versus EDA tools

By Nicolas Mokhoff
EE Times
(03/21/00, 3:22 p.m. EST)

Semiconductors News

  President backs FCC on 3G spectrum study
  Auto giants launch rival safety bus standard
  Infiniband silicon nears as spec rolls
  Dearth of candidates plagues Washington State hiring
  Content Bridge alliance gains hardware vendor support

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The ever-present gap between design capabilities and the EDA tools needed to complete them were revisited at a panel session held at the first IEEE International Symposium on Quality Electronic Design. Weighing whether the quick results obtainable with an EDA tool were more important than the quality of those results, panelists agreed that it depends on the priorities of the designer.

As market windows close ever faster on system-on-a-chip designs, designers need to make frequent trade-offs between satisfying results from imperfect tools or awaiting "perfect" data from "perfect" tools. "Integrated EDA tools lag behind Moore's Law, and are the primary cause of the 'non-correctness' being experienced with many complex IC designs today, " said Robert N. Blair, chairman of RNB International, and the panel's organizer.

"You can live with mere results over quality results for checking out technical readiness and development, but you need quality over mere results for product development," said Ghassan Yacoub, advanced EDA tools program manager at Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.).

Most panelists supported Yacoub. Nancy Nettleton, ASIC design technology manager at Sun Microsystems Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.), said, " Quality becomes a barrier when it impacts productivity."

The notion of having a UL-style label for EDA tools was ridiculed, although the idea of having a third party ensure tool quality was not dismissed. "The UL [Underwriter Laboratories] approach used in the consumer industry is unworkable for evaluating software tools," said Dan Lincoln, chief technical officer of ASIC International Inc. (Oak Ridge, Tenn.), a design services firm. "Needed is statistical correlation of data that can be accepted by the industry. I believe designers will refrain from using UL-designated tools because these tools will never be at the bleeding-edge."

Some tool users in the audience were more adamant about getting EDA tool vendors to become responsive to their needs. "Cars have warranties and one can be assured that the vehicle you bought will work. The same cannot be said of a million-dollar EDA tool, and vendors should be held legally accountable for tools that don't deliver on their promises," said one attendee. Panelists quickly assured him that such accountability would retard industry creativity and place EDA tool producers into a self-defensive mode. "Remember that we stand on the collective shoulders of the tool developers who came before us, " said Lincoln. "The sophistication of today's tools reflects the inputs of a lot of intelligent minds."

"Rather than blame vendors for inadequate tools, we need to characterize the class of design problems we have and choose the tools that fit that class of designs," said Sun's Nettleton. "If they perform according to the original characterizations, then we have done our job properly."

Addressing the proper design flow, Nettleton said: "The primary vehicle for selection of a quality EDA flow is to review design results produced on design problems roughly equivalent to those planned for the flow."

Nettleton said two degrees of complexity come into play in such circumstances. First, for leading-edge design problems, an existing design collateral may not exist for a roughly equivalent design. And second, the quality of design results can vary as much or more with the skill set of the design team as with the design of the flow. "In general, I would never select a design flow without also considering the team that will run it, whether it is an in-house or contracted team," she said.

Search EET's
Web Site

Sponsor Links
News from Abroad
Top News from the UK Electronics Industry

How to find news and tools for your design? Visit EEdesign.com

EDTN Mobile News
The latest news now available to go.
Palm VII users click here

Planet Analog
Sign up for FREE Analog Newsletter Now!

Click Here for Level One

All material on this site Copyright © 2000 CMP Media Inc. All rights reserved.
red line

Click here!

Click here to visit Develop Online!