Semiconductors and systems-on-chips (SoC) play an important role, when it comes to electronics for various automotive products and systems. SOCs combine processors, memory, analogue components, and interface protocols, among others, to help electronic devices perform various tasks seamlessly. Along with this, electronic systems demand a large amount of embedded software, and semiconductor companies are increasingly expected to provide them.
Cadence is a company that offers electronics design automation (EDA) tools, solutions, IP and design services to help integrated device manufacturers (IDM), chip designers, as well as foundries that manufacture electronic chips. On the sidelines of its 11th annual CDNLive user conference, Nimish Modi, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, Cadence Design Systems, spoke about the company's recent activities and offerings.
Cadence provides tools for chip makers, system makers and developers at system companies. Currently, about 40 % of revenue comes from system companies, who are comparatively newer users of the company's tools. Cadence also provides tools to design chips for system integration and analysis, which forms the third part of its strategy. The most-recently launched product of Candice is called Joules, which is a power analysis tool for designing chips or systems. This provides early prediction of power dissipation by running a real-life work load based on the applications that will be powered by the chips or systems. Jules is also claimed to deliver time-based power solution up to 20 times faster, with 15 % accuracy.
Apart from telecommunication and consumer wireless verticals, automotive is a new area that the company is looking into, by applying some of its existing solutions, and re-targeting them. The company has been working with Tier II suppliers, its traditional customers. But now, Cadence is working more often with Tier I suppliers as well as OEMs, thus breaking the traditional hierarchical approach of customers, Modi said.
One of the recent acquisitions Cadence made in the automotive sector was that of Tensilica, which provides solutions in computer vision processing. These processors are mainly used in the automotive industry for the development of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which require a high amount of computation capacity due to the features they offer. Additionally, since ADAS is a safety system, it needs to be of very high efficiency and highly-reliable.
Cadence also helps its customers to supply chips for components that need to adhere to set standards, like that of the ISO 26262 functional safety standard. The company has achieved this by adding functional safety as a feature on its traditional simulator. Customers of Cadence may manufacture chips for purposes like infotainment, functional safety, Ethernet and ADAS, and each has different requirements and needs, but needs to come together. Modi noted that the system needs to maintain a balance between user experience and safety.
Tools for the designing of chips for automotive applications are distinguished according to the end-usage that these chips are being put to. These usages could be for infotainment, safety and ADAS, navigation, and other specific areas. They are also segregated according to design, verification and IP. In terms of design, the tools are required for analogue, mixed signal design and advanced geometry design, sophisticated running, Android capability, and real-time processing.
For verification purposes, there needs to be adaptation of tools for specific requirements, with the ability to work on different engines, said Modi. He added that Cadence provides a continuum for customers in this regard, making it relevant to customers and also making it more productive and efficient. The final area of the tools focused for automotive use is in terms of identifying and providing the correct IP. The company is in its early stages with regards to IP, and a lot is currently being done in this area, Modi noted.
Cadence invests back about 35 % of its revenue into R&D. India is the second largest R&D centre for the company, with research taking place across locations in Noida, Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad. The majority of its 1,400 personnel works on R&D activities of the company, Modi stated.
Modi said there is an increasing requirement for carmakers to provide seamless connectivity to customers with their vehicles and other electronic devices. Solutions need to provide seamless connectivity, require to be developed as fast as that of consumer products, lower power usage, having increased computational capacity and having the ability to provide analysis functionalities. There is also a completely separate range of challenges and requirements for electric vehicles (EV), Modi said. Range anxiety, heat dissipation, lower powered chips and a complete ecosystem are some of the important requirements that need to be addressed for EVs to become successful.
Text: Naveen Arul