Clouds, Not Fog, Hung Over San Francisco’s Moscone Center During DAC

Based on what attendees saw at DAC, the forecast for EDA could be cloud-based and changeable with heavy cloud cover but little rain and loads of potential.

Source: EEWEB

By Lauro Rizzatti (Contributed Content) | Friday, July 27, 2018

Design Automation Conference (DAC) attendees, expecting heavy fog to shroud the Moscone Center in San Francisco last month, were in for a surprise — it was cloudy, not foggy. That’s because they were treated to demonstrations for a variety of cloud-based solutions, including hardware emulation. This is a notable change from the days when no one expected chip designs to leave a company’s secure data center until they were ready for tape-out.

Rajesh Shah, CEO of Softnautics, supplier of IP-based embedded software solutions, voiced what so many of us now think: “Everything is moving to the cloud, both personal and business. The cloud has adequate bandwidth, latency, and security. Most software and analytics tools are in the cloud. FPGAs and GPUs are already in the cloud. It’s time for our EDA industry to adopt the cloud.”

And indeed, it is. Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, has a program for semiconductor design, with longtime EDA insider David Pellerin heading AWS worldwide business development for the infotech and semiconductor markets. David offered his perspective in a DAC presentation, titled “Migrating Design, Verification, and Emulation to the Cloud,” during a lunch hosted by Mentor, a Siemens Business, to highlight the hardware emulator Veloce Strato’s move to the cloud.

Pellerin outlined the benefits of a cloud-based verification platform, contrasting it with the traditional EDA infrastructure that lacks some flexibility and could suffer from poor utilization. He lamented that the traditional EDA data center always seems to have the wrong number of servers.

Much is changing in the chip design world, he added, including attitudes. EDA’s growing comfort level with the cloud is due to a variety of factors, including security, a well-known concern for IP, workflows, and tools. Computational power, memory, and networking — especially throughput, latency, and consistency — were major drawbacks, he said, as were automation and cluster/job management. Pellerin also noted remote graphics for interactive applications and independent software vendor support, including license management, as other concerns. Access to emulation technologies was yet another stumbling block.

Latency is no longer a problem, being solved by high-bandwidth connections. Everything else has been addressed, which means that migrating EDA to the cloud gives users secure and well-optimized EDA clusters that can be automatically created, operated, and torn down quickly. The cloud can scale accordingly with no constraints.

“Shape the compute to match the work to be done and optimize EDA using application-specific storage,” affirmed Pellerin.

Mentor demonstrated its cloud-based version of Veloce Strato, now available as a cloud-computing emulation platform directly accessible on-demand on AWS. According to Jean-Marie Brunet, senior director of marketing from Mentor’s Emulation Division, the move gives chip design verification groups three good reasons to embrace emulation in the cloud: choices, convenience, and confidence. He cited a wide range of options to access hardware emulation with a standard AWS contract and emulation capacity availability as needed when needed. Hardware emulation is available now across a broad range of deployment scenarios.

Back to Softnautics, which worked with Mentor on the Veloce Strato pilot project to validate hardware emulation’s viability in a cloud-based design verification environment. CEO Shah enthusiastically noted that this move will enable a new set of emulation users because of its convenience and flexibility for small-sized companies with limited budgets. Softnautics plans to put all of its IP blocks in the cloud, concluded Shah, who added that there is a paradigm shift in how semiconductors are designed and verified.

The move to the cloud offers chip design groups “have-it-your-way” options. As Brunet observed, “It’s now an expense, not capital.” Of course, cloud offerings are just some of the many options available — Mentor’s Veloce hardware emulation platform will continue to be a data center resource as well.

Based on what attendees saw at DAC, the forecast for EDA could be cloud-based and changeable with heavy cloud cover but little rain and loads of potential.