| SAN FRANCISCO Henry Potts, vice president and general manager of Mentor Graphics Corp.'s System Design Division, said Wednesday (April 13) that electronics companies are searching for new strategies to manage intellectual property (IP) in a global setting as a way to offset a host of emerging challenges. |
Electronics companies all over the world are looking for new system design methodologies that will allow them to reuse as much of a design as possible in order to help them meet the challenge of trying to reduce design cycle times while simultaneously coping with increasing design complexity, Potts said in a keynote address at IEEE Wescon Wednesday in Santa Clara, Calif.
"Designers are interested in technology," Potts said, "but business people are interested in how to manage the projecthow to select components and IP blocks that will allow them to speed up the design cycle."
Potts told the audience that the increasing complexity of systems is a "self-feeding" problem, because increases in integrated circuit (IC) complexity create the need for more complex printed circuit boards (PCBs) and other components.
While companies are dealing with this increasing complexity, Potts said, global pricing pressures and other factors are simultaneously forcing them to dramatically reduce design cycles. As a result, they are using more "off-the-shelf" components and reusing more portions of a system design.
Potts offered the aerospace industry as an example. "Five years ago," he said, "Aerospace companies would not consider off-the-shelf components for their designs. Today, off-the-shelf components are very common in avionics because of shorter design cycle times."
Other challenges, such as electronics industry globalization and outsourcing, are also negatively impacting the systems design landscape, Potts said, adding that more than 55 percent of electronics companies today have all or part of their PCBs designed outside of their company. Working with outside design teams creates an entirely new set of challenges, including the possibility of multiple electronic design automation (EDA) environments as well as providing access to the same design libraries and manufacturing data.
"This creates a complexity that 10 years ago was only faced by a very few companies," Potts said. "This complexity is adding a great deal in terms of business demands for many of our customers."
Potts noted that with design teams scattered throughout the world and the need for systems design reuse stronger than ever, the ability to document design intent as well as content is critical. While the content of a design can easily be captured by tools such as schematics and bill of materials documents, he said, capturing design intent has been much more difficult.
"During the design process, many individual, localized decisions are made about placing components within a design," Potts said. "Traditionally, that information has not been captured because those decisions have been arrived at through a process."
Because design intent has become more important, Potts pointed to the emerging field of constraint editing and management as an important new systems design tool area. He highlighted his own company, which recently announced the integration of a constraint editor system into its Expedition Series and Board Station design flows, and Cadence Design Systems, which offers constraint management system in its Allegro PCB Design 610 product, as early leaders among EDA companies in this emerging area.
"It is difficult to do," he said, "but it's a high value proposition. I think we are going to see more activity from the EDA companies in this space."