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Toshiba at DATE

A Random Presenter and Panelists Before the DATE Keynote
Originally uploaded by brillianthue.

It’s been a busy first day at DATE. The morning kicked off with keynote addresses given by Dr. Tohru Furuyama, General Manager, Center of Semiconductor Research and Development at Toshiba and Alan Naumann, President and CEO, CoWare. Tohru’s talk, entitled “Challenges of Digital Consumer and Mobile SoC’s: More Moore Possible?” was heavily technical for a keynote and focused on the need for Electronic System Level (ESL) tools and methodologies in order to keep up with increasing design complexity in the SoC market.

According to Furuyama, development costs are increasing rapidly with the advent of each new manufacturing technology, and costs have soared from between $8M to $50M to develop a chip from scratch. In order to reduce cost and decrease time to market (TTM) he claims it is necessary to adopt a strategy of developing system models in advance of the availability of RTL or silicon so that schedules for the software and hardware teams can overlap. To prove his point, he cited internal project experience suggesting that it took about 130 days after first samples returned from the fab to debug software before Toshiba started using system level modeling, and only 41 days after. Furuyama felt that was a significant improvement, and so do I!

Furuyama also proposed taking advantage of behavioral synthesis techniques to speed hardware development and simulation times. Experience at Toshiba suggests that C models can provide a 5-10x improvement in simulation performance over RTL. Additionally, the performance of synthesized designs was found to be very close to that of manually written RTL, though the gate count was potentially higher.

I was surprised at the amount of technical detail that Dr. Furuyama went into during his talk, but it was interesting to hear. The moral of the story? Use ESL tools and methodologies in order to save development time and reduce project costs. Perhaps one of our astute readers can comment on whether the results Dr. Furuyama described have been seen elsewhere.

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