SANTA CLARA, Calif. A year after announcing its Web-based design environment, Fujitsu Microelectronics Inc. claims the system is proving its mettle and has been particularly useful in block-based design of systems-on-a-chip (SoCs).
Speaking at the IP2000 Business Forum, David Dick, director of advanced technology development at Fujitsu Microelectronics, described the lessons learned so far from the company's IPSymphony Web-based design environment. Fujitsu is using IPSymphony for "multimillion-gate designs," with a goal of moving from net-list to tape-out in 21 days, Dick said.
IPSymphony has become particularly relevant for the system-on-a-chip, Dick said. The need to develop complex chips quickly has forced companies to adopt parallel, block-based design methods, and that's led to the employment of design groups across multiple geographies, using disparate tools and methodologies. "As SoCs have become a reality, the design teams have become distributed," he said.
A Web format like the one used in IPSymphony lends itself to block-based design, because different blocks can be represented by different Web pages, Dick said. "You can even have different design teams work on the same block if you partition it right," he said.
Handled properly, Web-based engineering also can tie multiple methodologies together, Dick said. IPSymphony, in conjunction with some company-wide standards for setup files and data entry, ties those methodologies into a common framework, and thus ensures their outputs can be stitched together to form a final chip.
Dick noted that Fujitsu's environment before IPSymphony was more chaotic each design group had developed its own way of doing things, even different file-naming conventions. Designs couldn't be traded easily, and there were differences even in simple functions su ch as setup files for the design tools.
The Web-based approach can also be used to record documentation for future designers.
Share the knowledge
By reining all design activities to a Web server, the Web promotes design reuse and gives designers access to one another's work, Dick said. In particular, Fujitsu was able to get the "gurus" of particular processes to put their knowledge onto the Web. "The guy that knows how to do something captures it once," and the rest of the company can then share that knowledge, Dick said.
The process had its headaches during its creation. "I've been involved with this for the past year-and-a-half, and believe me, getting the entire world to behave like a single design group is not an easy task," Dick said.
In the future, Fujitsu plans to allow customers or designers working remotely at a customer's site to access parts of IPSymphony through firewalls. But "everybody wants their own little version," Dick said, and Fujitsu isn't int erested in developing all those versions.