First-Hand Experiences using Hardware Emulation

The 2016 Mentor Graphics’ User Group boasted five technical sessions focused on emulation

Source: EETimes

The 2016 Mentor Graphics’ User Group, or U2U, was held at the Marriott Santa Clara on April 26. According to the opening remarks by Don Kurelich, Americas technical director at Mentor Graphics, it was attended by about 900 visitors. I had the pleasure to be one of them.

The day was packed with two back-to-back keynotes, a panel discussion, and nine breakout sessions, each covering a specific Mentor design tool: Calibre I and II; AMS Verification; IC Digital Implementation; Functional Verification; Emulation; High-Speed Design; PCB Flow; and Silicon Test & Yield Solutions. Each session included four or five in-depth technical presentations delivered by engineers dealing with real-world experiences using Mentor tools to design leading-edge products. The exception was the Silicon Test & Yield Solutions session, which comprised eight presentations.

The first of the two keynotes was presented by Dr. Wally Rhines, Mentor Graphics’ CEO. Titled Merger Mania, Dr. Rhines started by reviewing the M&As (mergers and acquisitions) in 2015, accounting for about 30, and remarked that the valuations in those deals reached an historic peak, with a number of multibillion-dollar transactions. He also noted that the average size of the merging companies were five times as large as those in the past five years.

Dr. Rhines then reviewed the M&A landscape from the 1950s. He noted that the top 10 semiconductor players have changed dramatically since that time as the industry transitioned from germanium transistors to silicon-based integrated circuits made with a bipolar process, metal-oxide-semiconductor memory chips, memories/microprocessors, and system-on-chip (SoC) devices. Another change was in the top industry segments, he said. From computing at 50% of its chips versus 25% for communications a decade ago, the trend has shifted with communications overtaking computers as the leading segment.

After making a joke on the initials of the acquiring and acquired company names that led to the acronym “M&A,” he concluded that there is no correlation between size and profits.

The second keynote, titled Driving Beyond IoT, was from Zach Shelby, vice president of marketing for the Internet of Things at ARM. Shelby comes from the family that made the sports car icon of the 1960s, the Shelby Cobra, and he was the co-founder, CEO, CTO, and chief nerd of Sensinode before its acquisition by ARM in 2013.

Shelby said that ARM is not just a fabless semiconductor company; instead, its “silicon-less” since it is involved in developing and licensing technology to be used by other companies designing silicon. In the past few years, ARM has been targeting the IoT as its next area of investment since the requirements are leading the next wave of evolution in SoC design. Driven by robust demands for security and connectivity to support services in the cloud and end-to-end security, ARM acquired Sensinode, PolarSSL, and Sansa Security to build the foundation for the design of all future ARM-based IoT devices.

With a tip of the hat to the automotive industry, deeply ingrained in his DNA, Shelby said that, while some see automotive vehicles as “expensive mobile phones,” they are actually becoming autonomous drones. And he added, “The auto is the ultimate intelligent connected device.”

Dr. Rhines and Shelby later participated in the panel session Ripple or Tidal Wave: What’s Driving the Next Wave of Innovation and Semiconductor Revenue? Moderated by Don Kurelich, this panel included James Hogan of Vista Ventures, Brad Howe of Altera, and Kelvin Low of Samsung Semiconductor.

On to the technical sessions, which were the main reason for me to attend the U2U conference. Focusing on my area of expertise — that is, hardware emulation — I spent the entire afternoon attending the five technical sessions focused on emulation, each highlighting the successful deployment of Mentor’s Veloce emulation platform in a design verification flow.