knows EDA and he knows India. The industry veteran has worked for Cadence
since its earliest days in 1988 and has led the company's India operations
since 1996. He's overseen the nearly tenfold growth in Cadence India's
workforce and has enjoyed a ringside seat to the continuing transformation of
India as a silicon design hub. I wanted to check in with Ahuja--Corporate Vice
President and Managing Director, Cadence India, pictured below--to get his current perspective
on where the region and the electronics business as a whole are headed.
Jaswinder, let's start with a high level: From your vantage point, what's
driving the electronics industry today?
A: Mobile connected devices, the Internet
of Things (IoT), and cloud computing. The mobility market is expected to reach
$141 billion by 2018, growing at a CAGR of 10.8%. Wearables, the next frontier
in mobility, is forecast to be an $8
billion market by 2018. And we have barely scratched the surface in terms
of applications - currently most of them are fitness and lifestyle products,
but as the technology evolves the imagination is the limit to where this
disruptive technology will go.
What about IoT?
A: Cisco forecasts that the IoT will
involve 50 billion devices by 2020. As far back as 2010, the number of things
connected to the Internet exceeded
the number of people on Earth. This is going to be an enormous market.
Consider that Google bought Nest, the home device company, for $3.2 billion.
The industry giants recognize that the IoT is going to change the way we work,
live, and play.
The cloud represents at $6 billion
opportunity for semiconductors by 2015, according to McKinsey. Apart from wired
and wireless infrastructure, the cloud will need 32-bit MCUs, optical and other
sensors, discrete chips, disk drives, microcontrollers, etc.
Q: What does this
all mean for semiconductor and electronics systems engineers?
A: A lot of change! Change in the way we design; change in how we
manage complexity and in how we verify those complex designs. Let's take three
big design developments:
- The need for good-quality IP
- Challenges such
as low power and mixed signal
- Changes in hardware
First, with increased SoC complexity comes the need for more
silicon-proven, quality IP blocks. Increased functionality means more IP cores,
and that causes challenges in SoC integration and verification. In his keynote
address at CDNLive Silicon Valley, Krishna Yarlagadda, President
of Imagination Technologies Inc., said that the path to tackling
system design complexity runs straight through SoC IP design and methodology,
because getting differentiated systems to market in a timely manner can no
longer be done from scratch. I liked his quote from your post:
"The key is to take the existing IP
that's best in class and bring it together in a way that you can deliver your solution
faster along with your core intellectual property."
Q: Talk about the
low-power and mixed-signal challenges that never seem to abate.
A: You're right they never go away and just get more challenging with
time. Take the power consumption concerns. A successful design flow must
simultaneously consider power, performance, and area constraints in a seamless
closed-loop, multi-objective planning-to-signoff solution. Power optimization
techniques must combine seamlessly with advanced power switching and scaling
techniques applied to power domains. But these advanced techniques can lead to
component overhead and introduce new complexity to design, verification, and
testability. Engineers demand a holistic solution that manages complexity
while reducing risk and increasing predictability, and we're delivering on
That leads to my last point, which is that rapid technology acceleration
has caused rapid changes in hardware architectures. In the IoT, for
example, all of the real-world signal data coming in through all sensors must
be processed before it can be stored or consumed by the processors and
microcontrollers. Many of these applications are algorithm-intense with
low-latency requirements, so hardware implementation is a must. The most
economically viable means of accomplishing this today is to utilize high-level
synthesis. Many companies are already widely deploying high-level synthesis
tools, such as Cadence's C-to-Silicon Compiler.
Q: Jaswinder, you
have seen the remarkable evolution of this industry as it addresses relentless
increases in complexity. Companies used to be able to go it alone, but that's
A: Ecosystem collaboration has
become increasingly important in the last decade, but never more so than today.
Turning design into product requires collaboration with many different kinds of
companies in the ecosystem, from IP to manufacturing. In the new IoT era the
value is created not by the individual components but, instead, by the
combination of them, from device though hub to the cloud that holds the data
that is analyzed. Choosing the right ecosystem partners is crucially important.
Q: I had the
pleasure of interviewing
Jani, the president and chief
technology officer for Mindtree, the global IT, IP, and
design-services company. He had some interesting comments on the evolution of
India as a design center. How do you see things evolving in the coming years?
A: We cannot foresee the electronics of tomorrow, just like we could
not have imagined 15 years ago the electronics of today. But we are witnessing
a time in which startups are taking the front seat in driving innovation. That
means local entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to make a big impact. The
environment for entrepreneurship in India is ripe, with never-before access to venture
funding from investors and the government.
Cadence has been working closely with semiconductor and product
startups for many years, and we have witnessed increasing startup activity,
contrary to global trends. For India to make its mark on the global electronics
stage, entrepreneurial activity must grow. There is a world of opportunity out
there as multiple big trends drive the electronics industry to new horizons. Bleeding-edge
innovation will come from startups, and if you are a budding entrepreneur, this
is the time to grab the opportunities out there.
-- 25th Anniversary: Mindtree CTO on Electronics'
Evolution and India's Engineering Revolution
2014: Lip-Bu Tan Cites Opportunities and Challenges for Electronics-- Semiconductor Industry Outlook Continues to Brighten