Artificial intelligence and machine learning are reshaping electronic system design as consumer-facing companies like Facebook and Google design their own hardware. Electronic system design is enabling rapid changes and new innovation in automotive. Designing microchips for the commercialization of outer space faces stiff challenges.
These are just a few topics that companies driving technology innovation in electronic system design will discuss at SEMICON Europa, 12-15 November 2019 in Munich, Germany. In the run-up to the event, SEMI spoke with Bob Smith, executive director of the Electronic System Design (ESD) Alliance, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, about how the integration of the ESD Alliance with SEMI’s global platforms is extending design expertise in the worldwide electronics industry. Smith shared his views ahead of the SMART Design Forum, 14 November 2019, 14:30 to 17:00, at SEMICON Europa. Registration is open.
Join the forum to meet experts from ESD Alliance and other key industry influencers. Attendance is free of charge for all SEMICON Europa visitors (Hall B1, TechARENA 1).
SEMI: In August of last year, SEMI announced the ESD (Electronic System Design) Alliance joined SEMI as a Strategic Association Partner. How does this partnership benefit the design and semiconductor industries?
Smith: As indicated back then by Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of SEMI, “Design is the very foundation of semiconductor innovation and manufacturing.” The integration of the ESD Alliance with SEMI’s event and global platforms enables the design community to expand its expertise to the worldwide electronics industry. The integration helps streamline collaboration and connection of SEMI members with the electronic system design, IP and fabless communities.
ESD Alliance members are now able to more efficiently engage with the electronics manufacturing supply chain on technical and business issues and gain access to comprehensive global resources and platforms. Those resources include SEMI’s technology communities and activities in areas such as advocacy, international standards and environment, health and safety (EH&S), industry statistics, trade and regulatory initiatives.
SEMI: And what were the main opportunities for the ESD Alliance to present the scope of the brand-new collaboration? How did the ESD Alliance enlarge the scope of the semiconductor and design industries?
Smith: Although the ESD Alliance has international member companies, the reach and focus of our activities was limited to North America. SEMI’s global platform allows us to spread our design initiatives worldwide. In 2019 we introduced design at SEMICON events in China, Taiwan, the U.S. and now Europe with our participation in SEMICON Europa’s SMART Design Forum. By introducing design into these global events, we are advancing SEMI’s expanded mission to represent the entire global electronic design and manufacturing chain and tighten the connection between the semiconductor and design industries.
Industrywide events like SEMICON Europa and its SMART Design Forum bring the entire electronic product supply chain closer together by focusing on commercial achievements in design and presenting forward-looking, system-centric views. The Smart Design Forum is a great opportunity for attendees to deepen their understanding of the links across design and manufacturing and throughout the supply chain during sessions and informal discussions at networking and social events. These exchanges help foster the collaborations essential to addressing technical challenges and ushering exciting new electronic products from concept to consumer.
SEMI: How is the semiconductor design ecosystem evolving? What disciplines are becoming integrated with those that have historically governed the scene? Can you tell us more about the concept of system-centric view?
Smith: In the early days of electronic design automation (EDA), design was largely separated from manufacturing. On the design side, the goal was to design and tape-out chips. After tape-out, the chip was handed off to the manufacturing group and the design team went on to a new project. We refer to this era as chip-centric.
Now, given the complexity of both chips and electronic systems, design and manufacturing can no longer be separated. Instead, they must collaborate from the beginning of a project on all aspects of system design. This system-centric view enables the delivery of smarter, faster, more powerful, and more affordable electronic products. This is a big responsibility and meeting it demands tight cooperation and collaboration across multiple disciplines including semiconductor design, packaging, software development, materials and manufacturing, system integration and testing.
SEMI: What’s one of your strategic objectives for 2020?
Smith: In 2020 we plan to launch our Connecting the Divide initiative to bring the design and manufacturing communities closer together to help both better understand the role of the other, the value each provides and the unique challenges each community faces. The goal is to increase the rate of collaboration between design and manufacturing in answering both industries’ need for a system-centric approach to new electronic product/system design.
SEMI: Do we have good reason to be optimistic about opportunities on the horizon? What’s one prediction for the future of semiconductor design solutions you’d like to share?
Smith: We seem to be surrounded by almost limitless opportunities. In terms of design, my prediction is that we will see higher levels of system design abstraction that will allow systems to be rapidly configured and verified in a way that we cannot do today. In essence, we will be able to build virtual systems rapidly to reduce the risk and cost of developing new electronic products.
SEMI: What are your expectations regarding the SMART Design Forum at SEMICON Europa 2019 in Munich?
Smith: We are excited to be bringing the design conversation into SEMICON Europa at the SMART Design Forum. Europe has been recognized as a leading region in embracing and driving system design. Our objective is to move deeper into system-centric design through the exchange of information and ideas at the SMART Design Forum.
Robert (Bob) Smith is Executive Director of the Electronic System Design (ESD) Alliance, a SEMI Strategic Association Partner. The ESD Alliance is an international trade association of companies providing goods and services throughout the semiconductor design ecosystem. Bob began his career as an analog design engineer at Hewlett-Packard working on disk drive technology. Since then, he has spent more than 30 years in various roles in executive management, marketing, and business development primarily working with startup and other early stage companies in Electronic Design Automation (EDA) and semiconductor IP. These companies include IKOS Systems, Synopsys, LogicVision, Magma Design Automation and Uniquify. He was a member of the IPO teams that took Synopsys public in 1992 and Magma public in 2001. Bob received his BSEE from U.C. Davis and his MSEE from Stanford University.
Serena Brischetto is a marketing and communications manager at SEMI Europe.