BANGALORE, India Configurability is key to the viability of the semiconductor industry, while platform development helps cut costs, speakers said here the final day of the Vision Summit of the India Semiconductor Association.
"Investing in application-level knowledge, the programmability of solutions, exploiting parallelism of system architecture at every level, looking for a new processor family to break the efficiency-flexibility paradox and the fact that SoC firms have a lead in exploiting new silicon technology are all vital to the future of the semiconductor industry," said Chris Rowen, president and chief executive of Tensilica Inc.
According to Rowen, opportunities for high-functionality and low-power devices abound, with low-barrier entry barrier markets having difficulty scaling Moore’s Law to reach performance and energy goals and 90- and 65-nanometer process technology facing noise and tool-flow problems. "There is still huge design potential to harness 130- and 90-nanometer process technology," Rowen added.
Cypress Semiconductor is working on platform development to cut design cycle time and costs, said Nagendra Cherukupalli, vice president of the company’s Asian design centers and chip integration.
"We are striving to cut costs and design cycle times since consumer electronics is a quick-changing opportunity. But CAD tool complexity, adding to overall design complexity, is a problem. Therefore we start with arriving at specifications for a family of products rather than a single product, with backward compatibility along the way being the watchword," he said.
PortalPlayer's chief systems architect Jason Kim said the way out is to help design products that win over customer hearts rather than compete in merely adding new features.
"Helping design simple-to-use products are better than competing in a scenario where it is merely the survival of the fittest," he pointed out, giving the example of Apple’s iPod.
ARM believes in re-use as device evolution gets even faster. "A platform of standard processors helps cut design cycle time. Having delivered 1.67 billion SoCs in 2005 indicates that products such as ARM’s are the way to go," said Atul Arora, president, commercial operations, ARM India.