By Lauro Rizzatti
April 2, 2018
A business acquaintance recently asked me to name a few books she could recommend to a newcomer to the semiconductor industry and, more specifically, the system design ecosystem. What began as a casual “ticking off” of a few titles on my fingers soon transitioned into a return to the bookshelf in my office for a serious look at the various offerings. I pulled down and skimmed through several dozen books, and eventually settled on several that I think give a good overview and help explain this unique and ever-changing industry.
“SoC Emulation — Bursting into its Prime” is a recent addition to the compendium of books about verification and EDA. Written by Semiwiki’s Bernard Murphy and Daniel Nenni, it explains hardware emulation, describes its origins, and discusses its 30-year path to becoming today’s verification tool of choice. It’s available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2E5KU3V
If better understanding verification methodology is the objective, then a good bet is the Verification Methodology Cookbooks on UVM/OVM and coverage that offer easy-to-understand recipes and learning guides. These are downloadable chapter-by-chapter and can be found on Verification Academy from Mentor, a Siemens Business: https://bit.ly/2pImkkI
Moving on to the evolution of the semiconductor industry, I recommend “Fabless: The Transformation of the Semiconductor Industry,” a look at the fabless semiconductor ecosystem. This was written by Nenni and Paul McLellan, a blogger for Semiwiki at the time and now at Cadence Design Systems, with contributions from a variety of industry experts. Also available through Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2Gi1ofA
Another contribution from Semiwiki to add to the pile is “Mobile Unleashed: The Origin and Evolution of ARM Processors in our Devices” by Don Dingee and Nenni. The book tells the story of ARM and how its processor IP ended up in Apple, Samsung, and Qualcomm smartphones, tablets, music players, and more. Find it on Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2GGTwU0
Back in 2010, McLellan compiled a year’s worth of blog posts into “EDAgraffiti,” which wraps his more than 25 years of experience in the EDA and semiconductor industries into a single book. He deftly covers the semiconductor industry terrain, from venture capital to sales, marketing, engineering and management. McLellan’s book can be purchased through Amazon at: https://amzn.to/2pOk0tk
Clive “Max” Maxfield (a.k.a. Max the Magnificent) and Editor-in-Chief of EEWeb may have started the cottage industry of books on the system design ecosystem. “EDA: Where Electronics Begins,” published in 2001 from the prodigious writer, continues to be an instructive must-read. Other books Max has penned include: “Bebop to the Boolean Boogie,” “Electrical Engineering: Know It All,” and “Designus Maximus Unleashed (Banned in Alabama)!”
Additional titles from Max are, “How Computers Do Math,” “The Design Warrior’s Guide to FPGAs: Devices, Tools and Flows,” “FPGAs: Instant Access,” and “FPGAs: World Class Designs.” All can be purchased from Amazon.
Once our industry newcomer graduates from overviews to hard-core books on semiconductor design, it will be time to move to the more technical tomes, including the seminal “Introduction to VLSI Systems” by Carver Mead and Lynn Conway. For the time being, though, there’s plenty to read and absorb with the books I propose. Please let Max and me know what books I’ve overlooked. Until then, keep on designing, and keep on reading on…