CLARA, Calif.—It's a rare moment when you can see the train wreck coming and the collision-avoidance potential at
the same time.
at a moment like that now in electronics design.
occurred to me as I heard ARM CEO Simon Segars (pictured right, courtesy of Chris Edwards, Tech Design Forum), keynoting ARM TechCon 2013, utter an oft-heard phrase: "We are at the brink of a new era
first thought was "Yes, but what new era? This industry innovates new eras
seemingly every single day."
this was different: Segars was describing the potential benefits and challenges
as we embrace the Internet of Things (IoT).
his keynote came a day after Martin Fink, HP's CTO and director
of HP Labs, delivered another address. Put the two of them together, and that's
when the train wreck and the possible collision avoidance come fully into view.
train wreck looks like this:
- Global mobile data has
grown 50% this year to 900 petabytes a month, Segars said.
- Cisco says that by 2017,
mobile will grow by factor of 10 to 8 zettabytes of server data.
you think about it, that projection is probably conservative because IoT is in
its infancy and likely will explode with applications and use models in the
coming months and years.)
shift to the Fink side of the train-wreck scenario:
- The network we have
today is the network we've had for decades, handling massive amounts of
- The systems powering
those networks are based on 60-year-old computing architectures and paradigms.
- We're entering an age in
which streaming data is becoming more important and our "device-centric"
world will quickly change to accommodate consumer needs.
put it this way:
"The network we
have today just can't absorb orders and orders of magnitude more data. We're
going to have to change the network. The network itself is going to have to
evolve. Silicon content is going to have to grow."
are differing evolutionary views, but a valid one is this: Companies that are
fabless and leverage the flexible IP model
will be able to be agile, manage costs, and meet the need for the emerging class
of data center workloads, and their requirements, for optimizations.
New computing paradigm
his part, Fink sketched out a vision of a new network and computing
architecture to address these changing macro trends.
the vision, today's constrained memory approach (temporary memory space and
storage silos) is combined—a "massive universal main memory pool that
removes hierarchies of data shuttling and looks at it as a single entity."
on, 20 years of general-purpose computing is supplemented with a different
approach, "a move to energy- and algorithm-optimized ecosystems."
will start to see the data we want to process and the processors specialized to
what we want to do. Do I want to deploy a general-purpose processor ... to do
video processing and video analytics? Maybe I want to create a specialized SoC
that only does that."
where IP-based design, language-based design methodologies, and the like begin
to hold sway.
in a shift from copper interconnects to photonics interconnect and you see a
completely different approach to computing and networking that offers better
performance and lower energy consumption.
version of this vision is called Moonshot, a new server
architecture that the company claims is 80% less costly, 77%
smaller, uses 89% less energy, and is 97% less complex than
comparable contemporary servers.
that development and the large and robust design ecosystem that IP and EDA
vendors continue to build and evolve, you can see that that out there on the
railroad tracks, there's a switch that's being thrown.
the big innovation train will roar right along down a different wide-open track,
picking up steam along the way.
—ARM TechCon Panel: Embedded Software Development Goes from Isolation to Collaboration