EDA enterprises should create EDA 2.0 technology concept that is oriented to future application requirements, computer architecture and system chip requirements. In addition to technology, it also includes the innovation of development mode, business mode, use mode and ecological chain. In addition, the definition and mission of EDA 2.0 is to make EDA develop from automation to intelligence, so as to reduce the threshold of EDA use and the design threshold of system level chips, shorten the design cycle by more than half, and make chip design simpler and more inclusive.

2020 is destined to be recorded in history. It is also a year of mixed happiness and sorrow for the semiconductor industry. The year 2020 is about to pass. It is time to look back on the past and look forward to the future. Techsugar visited many industry-leading manufacturers and invited them to share their summary of the magic year 2020 and their outlook for the new year 2021.

In 2020, the digital economy is sweeping the world with an unstoppable trend. New technologies represented by the fifth generation mobile communication technology (5g), cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data will start a new round of industrial revolution and become the key driving force to promote social development. The application scenarios of EDA verification are more extensive than before. EDA positively compares with the complex system chip design in the past, which puts forward new requirements for the development of EDA. Wanglibin, chairman of the board of EDA rookie core Huazhang technology, shared their summary of EDA development in this year, discussed the challenges and opportunities facing EDA field, and also looked forward to the future of EDA.

Review history and aim at “verification”

The early integrated circuit design was unveiled by the way of purely manual drawing of layout. The first breakthrough was the birth of CAD. CDA can also be called computer-aided design. The second breakthrough point is the birth of EDA 1.0 technology 30 years ago, which enables engineers to describe the design in computer language, and verify it in advance through simulation before streaming, and greatly reduces the risk of chip manufacturing while improving the design efficiency.

EDA, regarded as the “mother of chips”, has supported the integration of integrated circuit design from thousands of transistors to tens of billions of transistors during the 30-year 1.0 period. However, under the premise of the development of AI, cloud, intelligent automobile, 5g and other segments, EDA is facing new changes in data structure and computing architecture. Xinhuazhang believes that EDA is facing the following challenges:

First of all, with the increasing complexity of SOC integration design, the space and scope of EDA verification need to be explored show an exponential growth, and the verification time is also getting longer and longer. Verification tools are indispensable. The more sufficient the verification, the higher the success rate of the chip. Traditional international EDA companies mostly use old tools, the underlying architecture has not changed, and the superposition of algorithms and new functions has caused great redundancy.

In addition, EDA application scenarios are more extensive than before. AI, cloud, intelligent automobile, 5g and other different segmentation fields focus on different challenges. As an indispensable tool for chip design, EDA must respond to the segmentation requirements proposed by chip design.

Based on the past data structure and computing structure, the optimization effect of eda1.0 is very limited. In the past 30 years, EDA 1.0, as the mainstream, has been developed based on the data structure and computing structure of 20 years ago. In the process of development, EDA has improved automation to a certain extent, and EDA is also trying to integrate cloud, AI and other technologies. However, due to the unchanged underlying data architecture and the adaptation of the new software and hardware framework, the optimization based on the 1.0 software and hardware framework has very limited effect. EDA 1.0 can not keep up with the efficiency requirements of chip design development. It needs to move from automation to intelligence to further improve the design and verification efficiency, reduce the technical threshold and shorten the project cycle.

Through years of experience, xinhuazhang has made a keen market judgment – choosing the key “verification” that determines the success or failure of the chip as its track. Xinhuazhang, a domestic EDA manufacturer founded less than a year ago, showed the industry the profound accumulation of its team in the five elements of EDA company’s success: talent and team, technology and products, capital and policy, market and ecology, laws and regulations. In terms of product layout and classification, xinhuazhang’s products will include hardware simulation system, FPGA prototype verification system, intelligent verification, formal verification and logic simulation, fully covering the verification requirements of digital chips.

Domestic independent research and development in 2020

In 2020, the domestic EDA has made a breakthrough, but the challenges are still severe. It is difficult to independently meet the needs of the development of China’s electronics industry for EDA. Specifically, although progress has been made in analog chip tools, there are shortcomings in digital simulation, verification and other aspects. The U.S. Department of Commerce implemented export control on Huawei in may2019. Without permission, no company is allowed to deliver equipment and software traceable to U.S. technology to Huawei. EDA software is an indispensable tool for chip design engineers to design and develop chips. There is a very high technical threshold in this field, and there is still no domestic solution that can be completely replaced at present.

However, domestic EDA companies such as xinhuazhang have accelerated the localization process of EDA tools with a great sense of historical mission. According to xinhuazhang, the design threshold of system on chip (SOC) can be reduced and the product development cycle can be shortened through the innovative software and hardware EDA framework and algorithm, and the integration of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud technology and other cutting-edge technologies. Xinhuazhang is deploying the more intelligent EDA 2.0 developed and has made a number of technological breakthroughs.

Simulation technology based on llvm architecture helps to support the related ecology of more computer architectures

Simulation technology is one of the key technologies to ensure the correctness of integrated circuit design. Chip design companies use software to simulate the behavior of digital circuits, find and repair problems. Xinhuazhang cooperates with the most leading independent high-performance computing microprocessor enterprise in China, the world’s leading Internet enterprise, and the national leading 5g communication and AI chip design company to break through the limitation that traditional simulators only support a single x86 architecture, develop EDA simulation tools based on the llvm architecture with friendly software and hardware ecology, and optimize the data structure to ensure efficient algorithms and improve verification efficiency. In addition, xinhuazhang’s new simulation technology has flexible portability, can be compatible with the current mainstream architecture and help support the future multi-core and heterogeneous large-scale computer processor architecture.

Smart support for mainstream / self-developed prototype verification platform, compatible with existing ecology

At present, on the mainstream FPGA prototype verification platform, users usually need to buy expensive imported daughter boards with a variety of different single protocols, which brings difficulties to the development. The “smart” high-performance multi-functional programmable adaptation solution released by xinhuazhang supports the mainstream and self-developed FPGA prototype verification platform, and can replace a variety of imported daughter boards for prototype verification with one card. It has powerful functions and adaptation capabilities, can release more interface resources, accelerate innovation and provide flexibility, further accelerate verification convergence, help software and hardware collaborative development, and improve the R & D efficiency of chip design.

Validate cloud platform and expert services to build industrial ecology

In recent years, more and more chip start-ups have emerged. However, these companies have very limited funds in the initial stage, but their chip design needs hardware emulators very much. Xinhuazhang launched a complete, efficient and scalable verification cloud platform to help them save costs and complete chip development tasks. In addition, in response to the increasing verification needs of domestic chip design companies and the various verification challenges they are constantly facing, xinhuazhang has also established a strong verification expert team to provide expert level advisory services.

Open source to attract talents, lower the threshold for use, and build a planning ecosystem

According to the latest China IC design overall development report in 2020, the number of IC design enterprises increased by 24.6% over last year to 2218. Among them, many chip design companies do not use the most advanced process nodes in their development. In such projects, it is a good choice to use open source EDA. As a completely open resource, open source EDA can provide source power for college projects and start-ups.

In order to accelerate EDA technology innovation and cultivate ecology, xinhuazhang took the lead in releasing open source EDA ecological projects in August, 2020, and successively launched epicsim, the world’s fastest open source EDA simulator, and epicfv, the world’s first open source formal verification tool. Xinhuazhang is also the first EDA company in China to launch open source EDA tools. To build the ecosystem of IC design community through open source EDA, we need not only open source EDA technology or open source standards, but also open source EDA products that are truly practical and easy to use.

Facing the future demand, architecture and requirements, EDA turns from automation to intelligence

In 2017, DARPA launched the electronics Renaissance Initiative (ERI), in which the intelligent design plan for electronic devices and the high-end open source hardware plan are closely related to the development of EDA. Its purpose is to cope with the sharp increase in the cost and time required for the design of advanced system level chips, system level packages and PCBs. The core of these two plans is to better apply artificial intelligence technology and big data to EDA products, so as to greatly reduce the difficulty of integrated circuit design and greatly increase the efficiency of R & D. This seems to indicate the future development direction of EDA technology.

After analyzing the challenges faced by eda1.0, Xin Huazhang believes that he has seen the breakthrough direction of EDA in 2021:

First of all, xinhuazhang said that EDA enterprises should establish the EDA 2.0 technology concept facing the future application requirements, computer architecture and system chip requirements. In addition to technology, it also includes the innovation of development mode, business mode, use mode and ecological chain.

Secondly, xinhuazhang believes that the definition and mission of EDA 2.0 is to make EDA develop from automation to intelligence, so as to reduce the threshold of EDA use and the design threshold of system level chips, shorten the design cycle by more than half, and make the chip design simpler and more inclusive.

Finally, based on the previous accumulation, xinhuazhang can innovate, integrate and reconstruct EDA software and hardware frameworks and algorithms, such as eda1.x framework based on llvm, which is conducive to the exploration and innovation of the evolution towards intelligent eda2.0.

Development ideas of xinhuazhang

The new simulation technology based on llvm and the high-performance multi-functional programmable adaptation solution “smart” launched by xinhuazhang have used the idea of EDA 2.0 and some underlying technologies, and combined with the new architecture of llvm, it will help support future multi-core and heterogeneous. Smart multi-functional and programmable features can release more interface resources, accelerate innovation and provide flexibility, The product strategy of xinhuazhang will continue to innovate based on the concept of EDA 2.0.

In this breakthrough path, as a new force of EDA, xinhuazhang can bypass the technical burden, stand at the high-tech starting point of today’s scientific and technological development, break through the existing technology siege with the advantage of later development, and hope to focus on the breakthrough in its own field in a short time, and form a joint force to supplement the EDA weakness for China’s chip industry chain, and evolve EDA from 1.0 to more intelligent EDA 2.0 with the deep R & D strength of the team.
Editor in charge: Tzh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.