What Makes A Chip Design Successful Today?
By Brian Bailey, Semiconductor Engineering
“Transistors are free” was the rallying cry of the semiconductor industry during the 1990s and early 2000s. That is no longer true. The end of Dennard scaling made the simultaneous use of all the transistors troublesome, but transistors remained effectively unlimited. This led to an era where large amounts of flexibility could be built into a chip. It didn’t matter if all of it was being used; greater flexibility made the total market opportunity larger.
There are other inherent advantages of smaller, simpler products. “Simpler products offer a smaller attack surface, thus improving security,” points out Sergio Marchese, technical marketing manager for OneSpin.
Tools with greater focus can help. “What is more important is focusing the technology on the specific problem at hand,” says OneSpin’s Marchese. “If you try to create a model that is good for many different problems, that might save some development effort but might not be optimized for any specific application. This is especially true in formal tools where small changes in the internal model can have a huge impact on performance. A similar argument can be made for tool ease of use. The key here to present the user with only the options and features that are relevant for the task at hand.”