HSINCHU, Taiwan " Taiwan's ascendancy in the electronics design food chain seemed official on the floors of the fourth annual Embedded System Conference-Asia and the twelfth annual Electronics Design Automation & Test-Taiwan Conference & Exhibition here this week.
The conferences showed the resilience of the island's technology practices in the electronics landscape. The EEs assembled here pondered Taiwan's shift from circuit and logic design to system design, in which complex system-on-chip devices are becoming the dominant game. The two conferences were organized by eMedia Asia Ltd., a joint venture of Global Sources and CMP Media LLC, and expected to attract an estimated 3,000 Taiwan engineers. CMP Media publishes EE Times.
A principal theme was how value-added SoCs can boost Taiwan designers' fortunes amid a shift from maturing computing products to greener pastures in the wireless and digital consumer space. That was also the topic of the opening forum at EDA&T-Taiwan, "Understanding the Next Phase of Taiwan's IC Design Road Map," moderated by Joseph Ting, corporate senior vice president of Etron Technology Inc. The session featured speakers from Synopsys Inc., Via Technologies Inc. and Socle Technology Corp.
An ESC-Asia forum, "Powering Next-Generation Embedded Devices," also addressed the topic. That session was moderated by EE Times Taiwan managing editor Karen Kou, and featured speakers from MontaVista Software Inc., Wind River Systems Inc. and Renesas Technology Corp. Capable MCUs
In line with the predominant SoC theme, Sharp announced two reference designs for low-to-medium level portable media players, handheld video players, picture books and audio jukeboxes.
Sharp also demonstrated its ARM-based BlueStreak family of 16-bit and 32-bit MCUs and SoCs along with development kits for these devices.
"We are targeting LCD-centric rich media applications for our MCUs so Sharp can leverage the existing customer relationships in the display segment," said Chris Chene, senior director of IC marketing at Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas. "In this case, MCU and SoC are practically the same entity as for low and medium-level media players; you don't need a separate DSP. MCU does everything from coding/decoding and OS handling."
Sharp's MCUs will cater to QC and QVGA resolutions for low-end media players, which Chene reckons will eventually replace MP3 players.
A number of vendor seminars provided a hands-on view of the inner workings of embedded, chip and system-level design. LogicVision Inc., along with its Asia-Pacific representative, Siprox Corp., demonstrated logic and memory BIST solutions for silicon debug. The discussion outlined how these technologies impact debug turnaround time and the ability to identify failure modes, issues not typically addressed by standard design-for-manufacturability methodologies, a LogicVision spokesman said.
Other vendors hosting seminars included Agilent Technologies Inc., Mentor Graphics Corp., Philips Semiconductors, SafeNet Inc. and Virage Logic Corp. In addition, EDA vendors showcased their latest design and test tools. Ansoft Corp. showed its Designer software for microwave and RF designs, and EverCAD Navigators Corp. showed its full-chip circuit simulation and analysis tool suite. Other featured products included Faraday Technology Corp.'s array of semiconductor IP and Metrowerks' CodeWarrior family of software and hardware development tools.