With this posting, the Cadence Community is
launching a Low Power Design blog. This initial posting was written by Pete
Hardee (right), director of solutions marketing at Cadence.
sixteen years in EDA has taught me anything, it's taught me that success needs
two main ingredients. The first is a real tough design problem, experienced by
a significant portion of the market, which has a high economic value to solve.
The second is a differentiated solution that really solves that problem. That
is why I am really happy to have joined Cadence six months ago, assuming
marketing responsibility for the low-power solution.
The more I
get into this, the more I realize that we have both of those criteria. Don't
get me wrong -- I'm not saying our solution is perfect -- but we're solving the
problem in a way that many big customers seem to believe is the right way, and
moreover they seem to be very willing to help us get the kinks out. For a
marketing guy, this is a great place to be!
for low power design is almost ubiquitous. It's always been there for mobile
equipment such as cell phones and digital cameras, but the advent of convergent
Internet-enabled mobile devices has recently accelerated the need. Your "phone"
has rapidly become your multi-function communication, entertainment and productivity
device, much-vaunted for so long. It uses the same small form-factor we've been
used to for years, with seemingly exactly the same size of Lithium-Ion battery
-- a battery with which we get really upset if it doesn't make it through at
least a complete day without needing a recharge.
worked pretty closely with mobile device manufacturers and their semiconductor
suppliers over most of those sixteen years in EDA (most of which was spent at
Synopsys and CoWare), that came as no surprise. What was an eye-opener for me
was the rate at which home consumer electronics and high-performance computing
segments are adopting advanced low power design techniques.
The Consumer Mandate
consumer electronics, cost and quality are paramount. While the attractiveness
of "green" and reduced power consumption per
se is becoming more of an issue, for equipment that plugs into the wall
socket, low power design is really about managing the thermal profile of the
device. This reduces cost by reducing the need for expensive chip packages,
heatsinks and fans, and improves quality in the form of reliability.
people have some device in their home that demonstrates the effects of poor
thermal design. For example, I must have gone through about six different DVR
boxes. I won't mention the manufacturer, or even let on whether it's cable or
satellite to protect the names of the (not so) innocent. The device
consistently fails when it gets hot, so now I make sure that its airflow
circulation is unobstructed, and so far so good.
issues are definitely a big deal in high-performance computing. The classic
illustration is from Intel back in 1999 -- a graph that shows
power density in a single processor on a trajectory towards that of a nuclear
reactor or a rocket nozzle. Hence the industry is going towards
multi-processors, instead of continuing to push clock speed further into the
Going For Green
A bigger surprise
for me is that "green" really is a big deal in this segment. If you're a
natural skeptic like me, you may view "green" as a feel-good,
environmentally-friendly marketing bandwagon that companies like to jump on.
Then I read somewhere that all the U.S.
data centers put together consume more power than the state of Utah. Utah's reaction to this seems to be
to attract all new US
data centers to set up in that state -- they have been doing a good job of that
closing, a further attraction for me of working with the low power solution at
Cadence is how well it fits with EDA360.
I can think of no other solution that illustrates better the need to span
silicon, SoC and system realization -- all the way from transistors to system
software -- to help our customers build more power-efficient products. I hope you've enjoyed this first entry for
the Low Power blog category. It would be great to hear from you, and you will
be hearing more from me and the low power team at Cadence in the near future.