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Innovation Landscape
Ash Tankha
Friday, February 1, 2008
Breaking the Complexity Riddle

It’s no secret that the best way to reduce complexity has been to modularize and bring about higher levels of abstraction. This process stratifies the products and services in the industry and allows innovators to operate at higher levels of abstraction, reducing complexity, and thereby setting the stage for breakthroughs at every level.

Exemplarily, we now feature novel approaches by entrepreneurs who are striving to provide tools and solutions that overcome the major challenge to design flexibility in the semiconductor industry. The need of the hour is to reduce integrated chip (IC) design complexity by adopting a higher level of abstraction. What separates the winners from the runners up in the highly competitive world of semiconductors is the ‘time to market’ factor. And the one primary force that decides this key parameter is how the design complexities are addressed. Taking this task forward is Atrenta Inc, an early design closure company. It was started to realize the need among its customers to move the design analysis and optimization up from the gate level to the Register Transfer Language (RTL) level. “Fixing problems early has many benefits. One important benefit is that the iteration loop is cut short early in the process, so fixing problems at that stage is easier and quicker. To accomplish this goal the company has developed products that can essentially “predict” what will happen to a design as it moves into implementation. This ability to perform early analysis and optimization is the foundation of Atrenta’s innovation,” says Mike Gianfagna Vice President – Marketing. On the question of evolving trends in IC design, “complexity management” is cited as the term that sums up the scenario and higher levels of abstraction as the key to the solution. Further, the need to re-use IP is found to be critical, as well as recycling of architectures in the form of platform-based design.

Breaking Traditional Models

Traditions implicitly bring about inflexibility, which in a changing world results in escalated costs. This inflexibility in the ASIC market had a stifling effect, which proved to be the opportunity for Open-Silicon Inc. It has set about challenging the traditional supply chain for ASIC chip development. “Our strength lies in the Open model, whereby our clients are given a host of choices,” says Dr. Satya Gupta, VP Engineering. The chip supply chain optimization is achieved through providing and advising on a wide portfolio of fabrication process technologies, pre-qualified IP, package assembly and test solutions.

Also the company differentiates itself from being just another design service provider by taking charge of a larger section of the product design life-cycle. By doing so, it has also tapped into a larger portion of the revenue sources.

Breaking Information Opacity

Shifting from the world of semiconductors to more real world problems plagued by nature’s fury and opaque market forces, the need of the hour is ever greater data visibility. Today, given the overdose of information, the difficulty in making a decision based on the facts in hand results from the complexity in sifting through and processing information from a variety of sources.

No doubt there are ample disparate technologies such as the various enterprise resource tools and geographical information solutions that address different aspects of the problem. However, there is a need for a user interface that gives a contextual meaning of all these tools. This interface should aid the state authorities and company management in making informed and timely decisions. The greatest hurdle in any problem is acquiring information and visualizing the conditions holistically. Natural calamities and market dynamics are events that can be spread out in vast time and space geographies. To aid in such circumstances is a visual display created by the interpolation of data and maps that should help the concerned authority in taking timely action. It is this task that Enterprise Horizons Inc. has charted out to accomplish. “Several utility companies use our product, in conjunction with Google technology to analyze the impact of natural events like forest fires on their infrastructure. During the recent San Diego fire, our technology was used to track the spread of the firestorm and deactivate critical infrastructure assets in a timely manner,” says Krishna Kumar, CEO.

The potential applications extend to all spheres where a space and time relation has to be captured. In the industry context many of the supply chain issues, customer relationship management problems, market demographics can be captured and studied. This is achieved by interfacing with appropriate SAP modules and Google Earth tools.

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