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For System Design Complexity, a New Type of Engineer?

Comments(0)Filed under: EDA, engineers, Frank Schirrmeister, design engineering, DesignCon 2014

Some describe it as a tension. Others described it as a cultural gap or a cultural unfamiliarity. Some suggested, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, completely new naming conventions.

But any you slice it, there seems to be agreement that the level of electronic system design complexity that the industry grapples with today requires a new approach to engineering and perhaps a new type of engineer.

The software teams have to move to do more from an RTL perspective, but the validation guys need to have the platform healthy enough so that when it gets there, at least some validation has been done."

Culture Divide?

Cadence's Frank Schirrmeister, group director for product marketing of the System Development Suite, pushed the discussion further, raising the question whether we need a "new species" of system designer:

"Whenever I see a meeting at which both the software and the hardware guys attend, the first thing they do is introduce themselves to each other with business cards. Both of them are so busy, and both are facing increasing complexity. Do we need a new type of engineer—a new person who is deep enough to do both?"

Sandeep Pendharkar, vice president and head of product engineering at Vayavya Labs, by way of anecdote, cited one manager who has hired three software engineers to be part of the design verification team. Those software engineers wrote device driver code in C, while verification engineers sat next to them to understand it and then apply it to their jobs.

"It's difficult to get people to understand this, but it might be like having software guys be part of the verification team," Pendharkar said.

Knowlson said that while a new "species" of engineer probably is not required, a new type of system engineer is emerging, which he called "really more like glue engineers."

"The glue is to know enough about the specific firmware that you can take it and modify it, and then work with the design guys. Getting to the software guys early enough is really tough. You can get the architects. But getting people who know the code early enough is always a challenge."

Paging Dr. Phil

Schirrmeister responded that the "glue" engineer is becoming more like a moderator or, in his words, "let's call him Dr. Phil." "He knows enough about both sides to be dangerous and to challenge a bluff from software or hardware guys that it's not their problem," Schirrmeister added.

So, let's put the question to you: Moderator? Dr. Phil? Glue engineer? New species? What do you think we need to manage the relentless increase in system design complexity?

Brian Fuller

Related stories:

DVCon 2014 Video: What's the Missing Piece in Verification?

DVCon 2014 Panel: Did We Create the Functional Verification Gap?

Jim Hogan at DVCon 2014: Functional Verification Faces "Abundant Chaos" from New Technologies

Lip-Bu Tan at DVCon 2014: EDA/Silicon Ecosystem Crucial to Innovation



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