ANAHEIM, Calif. Most observers agree that mobile handsets have become an engine not just for the electronics industry but also for the global economy. And they agree with John Paul Shen, research fellow, head of Nokia Research Center (Palo Alto, Calif.), who said here Wednesday (June 11) at the Design Automation Conference that rapid mobile growth is going upward on " an exponential curve."
Well, not everyone agrees.
While chairing a DAC panel entitled "Next Generation Wireless-Multimedia Devices — Who Is Up For The Challenge?," Jan Rabaey, professor at Berkeley Wireless Research Center at University of Calif., asked the following question:
"What is the biggest threat to the mobile industry's growth?"
The top five threats identified on the panel ranged from regulatory issues to mobile phone users, complexity of software concurrency and verification of mobile chips.
"We could get stuck in some regulatory issues," predicted Ted Vucurevich, CTO at Cadence Design Systems, Inc. He downplayed any suggestions that EDA tools could become a bottleneck. "Technology momentum [for mobile phones] is there. The industry will do whatever it takes to succeed."
Tuna Tarim, mixed-signal wireless EDA methodology manager at Texas Instruments, identified "people" as the biggest threat to the mobile growth. "People decide. If they are not thirsty for new applications, industry growth could slow down," she said.
Cormac Conroy, vice president of engineering at Qualcomm CDMA Technologies, disagreed. "We are still far from satisfying consumers' demand. Data rates, for example, are nowhere near what consumers expect. There is a lot of room to improve," he said. Conroy, instead, fingered software as mobile growth's biggest threat. "Managing the complexity of software concurrency" could be where "we could get bogged down," he predicted.
Ikuya Kawasaki, general manager at Renesas Technology Corp., sees "verification" as the biggest issue. He said that "too many use-case scenarios" in cell phones make verification too complex.
"Global population stagnation" could certainly affect mobile growth, said Nokia's Shen. But more seriously, concurring with Renesas' Kawasaki, Shen called "verification" the biggest bugaboo. "Full system simulation and emulation capabilities are becoming more difficult, as use-cases today are so diverse in different parts of the world," he said.