Every year at the Design Automation Conference (DAC), a common theme seems to arise. Most times it’s a chip design oriented or EDA-centric issue, like low power or system-level design, which makes sense since most attendees are deeply involved with design tools and the technical challenges they address. This year, I was pleased to see that the topic on everyone’s minds was a more customer centric one: the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT has certainly picked up a lot of momentum over the last year or so and everyone seems to want to jump on the bandwagon. The result is there is a lot of hype and confusion about exactly what IoT is. This is not uncommon for an emerging market segment and I am sure things will be more defined as it matures.
But there are some clear requirements for anything that falls into the IoT space, and that is good news for Coventor and our customers. A fundamental necessity is the need for MEMS and sensors – lots of them – to enable the IoT. These sensors will be located in entirely new areas, and as such, will require power, wireless sensor networks to transmit their data, and sophisticated algorithms to harness this data and bring new types of value and services to our lives.
MEMS obviously play a big part of enabling the context awareness and data sensing required to build out the IoT. Whether it’s a wearable application like Google Glasses, a personal safety aid such as fall detection, or a wide network of sensors deployed in an urban environment for a safety or security application, MEMS are the key to many of the critical sensing functions needed.
I was honored to present at the DAC Pavilion that was organized by the MEMS Industry Group (MIG). My talk was called “Sensors and Semiconductors” and it gave me an opportunity to discuss MEMS in the context of IoT. In this talk, I shared statistics regarding the growth in connected and context aware products and the impact this will have in all of our lives. These new applications are predicted to continue fueling a large surge in MEMS, a market segment that is growing 2x faster than the overall semiconductor market. In addition, Freescale predicts there will be 22X more data traffic in 2020, due to IoT.
Of course, all these great applications of the IoT present new and tougher design challenges – which is why we are at DAC to begin with. I was happy to discuss on this panel, as well as throughout the course of DAC, how Coventor is helping to address these challenges. Bigger, more sophisticated designs require new modeling and simulation techniques, both at the system and circuit level. Our MEMS+ platform is gaining wide acceptance for its ability to quickly and accurately model the complete MEMS design – including all of the critical aspects associated with designing MEMS (electro-mechanics, fluidics, packaging and the controlling IC as a complete system).
It wouldn’t be DAC unless there was some deep technical issues discussed and a popular topic was 3D FinFETs. This emerging implementation approach drew a lot of attention to the other key product Coventor offers– our Virtual Fabrication Platform SEMulator3D. With Coventor’s booth directly across from Samsung, our team had the opportunity to engage with technology leaders from the world’s largest foundries, key players in the EDA space, and potential collaborators from the equipment area. SEMulator3D’s unique ability to provide structural verification of the manufacturing processes makes it possible to significantly reduce learning cycles for teams developing 10nm, 7nm and beyond.
DAC continues to be a great meeting place to network with customers, partners and industry experts, learn about key trends and new technologies, and discuss the most pressing challenges that chip and systems designers face. At Coventor, we’re pleased to be focused on the important issues our customers face – the manufacturing challenges of advanced process technology such as 3D FinFETs and the realization of IoT via MEMS sensors. Both will bring exciting new products and services that can significantly change human life for the better.