Yesterday I received an email about a panel organized by Jonah McLeod of Kilopass titled: Is Lifecare the Next Killer App?. The panel was moderated by Rick Merritt, EE Times Editor at Large. Kristopher Ardis from Maxim Integrated Products, Fabrice Hoerner from QUALCOMM Inc., and Greg Fawcett from Palo Alto Research Center were the panelists. The email stated that their discussion examined the semiconductor opportunity to facilitate health, energy conservation, safety, and productivity that will improve "Lifecare" for a world population of over 7 billion inhabitants. It had a pointer to a video recording of the entire panel.
I had not seen the panel during the conference, so I viewed this morning. Given its contents I would not advise a high school or college graduate to consider EDA as a career. What the panelists discussed is relevant to Kilopass and its business, but not to traditional EDA vendors. Only toward the end, responding to a pointed question from Rick Merritt, did two of the panelists addressed how EDA may be relevant to what they were talking about. And the three fields of relevance were: security, low power, and system level integration.
Security is directly related to Kilopass's business and is primarily addressed through IP and not EDA tools. Kilopass products help directly to solve security issues, both in hardware and in software. Low power is nothing new: as long as we do not figure out how to power our personal devices using personal power sources, we will continue to look for ways to make batteries last longer. The third field was system level integration of MEMS devices with traditional electronics components. I have already written about this issue a number of times and I will continue to point out that we need to connect our computing device with the real world.
The new buzzword for investors is: the internet of everything. Fundamentally it means complete connectivity among all electronic devices and the ability to rationally manage a large volume of data and transform it into relevant information as quickly as possible.
All of this will require large computational capability and probably novel architectures, but have little impact on changing the requirement for EDA creativity. We need to make our tools more efficient, but to stimulate more creativity we must change the nature of the industry: from a semiconductors orientation to a system orientation. And that means givi9ng much more attention to the software and system engineering problems.
That the audience at DAC was stunned or confused can be seen by the lack of even one question from the floor: after all what do you ask aliens?