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EDA360: Enlightenment for Silicon Test

Comments(0)Filed under: Test, Logic Design, EDA360, ATPG

At a macro level EDA360 is about driving the semiconductor industry toward sustainable differentiation.  It represents a Cadence mission to help its customers' customers achieve industry leadership and profitability through enabling technologies, methodologies, and services.  Ultimately it is a charter for driving a global community forward in a transforming economic environment.

This new charter, significant as it is, relies on fundamental changes in organizational philosophy and activity -- moving from separate and distinct goals to those with more symphonic momentum, clarity, and direction.   Organizational transformation is necessary for providing industry enablement, and it comes at a time when semiconductor manufacturing (and Moore's Law) faces its most challenging obtacles. It's a time when semiconductor technology nodes, required for meeting today's functionality and software application demands, are behaviorally impacted by atomic level uncertainties.

Given these lofty yet rational challenges and goals, it's no wonder some might question where IC Test, or silicon verification, falls within this charter.  Why and how is IC Test impacted?  And what changes are necessary regarding how we think about and develop IC Test solutions?

The Dawning Of IC Test as a Differentiator

EDA360 represents the dawning of IC Test as an essential component to enabling differentiation and profitability.  It marks the enablement of more complex, hierarchical testing methodologies for IP, memory, block, and chip level design with greater predictably.  Within the context of silicon verification, it is an assurance that only the highest quality devices with the lowest defect count (DPPM) are produced profitably.

At an IEEE test symposium in 2008, Phil Nigh of IBM stated "The role of IC testing is changing from being viewed as mainly a non-value (cost) operation, to one which provides additional value to products."  The value of test is analogous to a piston within an engine -- it is power producing.  Without it fully integrated and firing, the engine's performance is inefficient and will ultimately fail.

With consumer markets driving increasing volumes, decreasing profit windows, and application-driven differentiation, finding and in fact traveling the road to "zero" defects has never been more important.  With at-speed physically-aware test methodologies dominant, power-aware ATPG under adoption, and process-aware ATPG on the horizon, the highest levels of tool integration, automation, and downstream predictability for both physical design and test design flows are required for SoC and Silicon Realization.

Economies of Thought Leadership and the Age of a New Enlightenment

To accomplish all this successfully, organizations and their contributors must likewise adopt mind-sets of far greater coordination and integration, and move beyond economies of scale to economies of technological thought leadership.  These transformations are most welcome at a time when design complexity, IP reuse, growing memory requirements, and high quality silicon are absolute building blocks for enabling differentiating software applications and profitability. 

What does EDA360 mean for test and the test community? It marks an overdue age of enlightenment.    

Ed Malloy

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