How do I reduce time-to-market? Let me count the ways…
If you read enough advertising, white papers, application notes, or product descriptions you will quickly lose count of the various components, tools, and services that promise reduced time-to-market. It seems that everyone has a solution to the problem of shrinking design cycles and just when you’ve implemented one of them, your design cycle seems to shrink even further. So what would happen if you changed the development process itself within those design cycles?
Agile software development — methods in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams as opposed to a sequential design process — is not new. What is new is Agile IC methodology: applying agile software development methods to hardware development which historically follows the “waterfall” method of sequential design between isolated teams.
Proponents of Agile IC say the waterfall method is breaking in today’s engineering environment where IC designers face an exponential rise in new challenges while simultaneously trying to reduce time-to-market. ICs are increasingly more complex while software content has swelled. The Internet of Things (IoT)is driving device connectivity, a skillset not inherent in the typical IC designer. The demand for hardware and software co-design and verification appears greater than ever.
“Chip design can take up to 15 months but the market is demanding it be done in six,” says Randy Smith, VP of Marketing at Sonics Inc., a system IP supplier of on-chip networks, security, power, and memory subsystems. “With up to 120 Intellectual Property blocks on a chip and the inevitable late design changes, the waterfall method breaks. We need an IC design for the 21st century that allows us to get more things done in parallel and get to market faster.”
Sonics is taking an aggressive stance on getting support for the Agile IC methodology movement with Smith as a key evangelist kickstarting the conversation and encouraging debate. Recognizing that online conversation and education can lead to offline collaboration, Sonics recently launched the LinkedIn AgileIC Methodology Group. Interestingly, the group has already grown to 182 members in just 14 days.
Sonics also produced an interesting video, “Breaking point: A fundamental shift in IC design methodology” featuring Smith and other executives from chip design companies speaking to the merits of Agile IC and why “…this is bigger than Sonics, bigger than IP — it encompasses everything semiconductor.”
Hardware and software developers working together. Now that’s a concept for the 21st century.
Below are some additional resources you might want to add to your AgileIC methodology reading list:
Articles on AgileSOC.com: Agile Transformation in Functional Verification – Part 1, Growing Hardware with Agile Approach, and more.
SemiWiki.com “the semiconductor wiki project” Agile IC Development by Paul McLellan