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Design-Lite — new model for semiconductor development: Taher Madraswala

Taher Madraswala, VP of Engineering, Open-Silicon.

Taher Madraswala, VP of Engineering, Open-Silicon.

Taher Madraswala, VP of Engineering, Open-Silicon Inc., presented the guest keynote titled ‘Moving toward Design-Lite for Innovation’ this afternoon at the ongoing CDNLive India 2010. His mission is clear, “We want our customers to find newer ways of growing their markets.”

Madraswala first dwelt on the EDA360 vision and the rise of the applications platform. He discussed Design-Lite — a new model for semiconductor development, as well as how companies should be using derivaties to extend their market reach, and the new design derivative ecosystem.

On EDA360, he said that the semiconductor product value is now shifting to applications. The shift is providing applications focused platforms. There are also evolving integration challenges in both software and IP.

He added that non-traditional semiconductor development tasks are being pushed to the ecosystem. In this regard, the ecosystem collaboration is critical for success.

He said: “Buying an IP is one thing, but putting it together to develop a product that can be of mass usage is quite another. There was a time when we could add value in doing faster chips, etc. Now, the values have moved elsewhere. Customers also want to change the way they deliver value.”

Madraswala presented the example of Brite Semiiconductor. Open-Silicon had founded Brite in 2008 to brring its methodology to the Chinese market. Yesterday (15/11),  Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) announced that it has acquired an equity stake in Brite.

Introducing Design-Lite
Today’s global economy develops complex systems in a new manner, with design visionaries partnered with subsystem experts and uniquely skilled system integrators. Further, globalization has created the mechanism to optimize every piece of semicon design.

Madraswala introduced a new IC development model — the Design-Lite. Fabless and fablite companies are using design partners to help get more products out to the market with the same engineering staffing.

He said: “We are currently seeing customers coming to us and start at much higher abstraction levels. We are entering a busines model where customers expect us to desgn from the architecture, right up to mass production.”

So, what does Design-Lite do? It provides the ability for companies to enable core product teams to focus on future roadmap development, while tapping into opportunities only available through collaborative engineering.
This trend has been happening due to factors such as financial limitations, time to market and customized product pressures.

Madraswala advised splitting the roadmap into core and derivatives! He said: “You can focus on your core products, To serve the rest of the market, some derivatives, and some customiztion is required. Someone has to help generate those derivatives. Customers also need to compete in the cost side, in case they cannot differentiate.”

He added that the two very real needs for every product company today are — how do you do derivatives and how do you reduce costs?

Core product development
For core roadmap, a customer must do significant new design creation, which would be probably requring heavy investment to create new application platform. Often, significant customer resources are appled to completee product realization without adding any additional differentiation.

To enable derivative design — the engineering capability of collaborative desgin companies must grow, especially in areas of architecture and software. There is also a need for full vertical dervative capability — the need for archtectural and software knowledge drives collaborators to focus on select vertical markets.

He gave an example of the media processor. The old design needs cost reduction and updated features to address new markets. Typically, the customer provides block diagram feedack for feature changes. Open-Silicon develops the derivative device.

In the new derivative ecosystem, it must provide design value in form of EDA, architecture, analog, software, IP and physical design. For production, the ecosystem must provide the compete manufacturing solutions.

Summarizing, Madraswala said that when a company has breakthrough technology, they need to pick the key platforms to create it themselves. Then, they must leverage a partner and keep a focus on its core roadmap to maximize the RoI.

Semiconductor developers need not only better the custom silicon, but also a new product development model to increase the efficiency. Today’s increasingly complex systems are pushing new engineering work to ecosystem partners such as Cadence and Open-Silicon.

The new model can develop more products at lower cost, and will therefore, win out in the marketplace.

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