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ECN Article: Roundtable Part 1: Experts Discuss Current Trends And Future Obstacles

By October 9, 2018May 12th, 2021No Comments

In this article, the staff of ECN Magazine met with Martin Croome, Kevin McDermott and Art Swift. Martin Croome is the VP of Business Development at GreenWaves Technologies. Kevin McDermott is the VP of Marketing at Imperas Software. Art Swift is the VP of Marketing and Business at Esperanto Technologies and the Vice Chair of the RISC-V Foundation Marketing Committee.
Question: Over the last year, what’s the biggest trend you’ve seen affect your field of engineering?
Response by Martin Croome: We’re starting to see the emergence of significant interest in open source semiconductors. At GreenWaves Technologies, we see this trend driven by two major industry events:

  • The tailing-off of power/performance benefits in new semiconductor designs predominantly driven by Moore’s law effects means that it is becoming increasingly necessary to optimize system on chip (SoC)/processor architecture for specific application domains.
  • The growing industry support for the RISC-V ISA means that the tools supporting it, the Foundation for acceptance of any processor architecture, are maturing fast.

RISC-V and our core upstream open source project PULP drive GreenWaves’ ability to bring innovative, new solutions to market embedding inference based on artificial intelligence (AI) into battery operated sensors with use of capital efficiencies that were hitherto not possible for fabless semiconductor start-ups.
We believe that this is the most significant business model shift in the semiconductor industry since Arm enabled companies to develop SoCs based on common processor cores.
Response by Kevin McDermott: The industry is always trying to move toward a greater level of abstraction, especially in the area of complex software/ hardware development and verification. This need historically has fueled the IP industry, as well as virtual platforms. We have seen increasing complexity, and the need for security, drive developers to implement high-level, high performance simulation as a critical part of their methodology.
Response by Art Swift: Over the last year, there has been an explosion of innovation in the chip industry. Personally, I have not seen this level of excitement and innovation since the mid-90s, when the RISC processor revolution was in full swing.
During the 90s, Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment, MIPS Computer Systems, and Arm (and its many partners) were attempting to disrupt the status quo in the computer and chip industries by building (and licensing) new RISC processor architectures. Semiconductor IP licensing soon boomed, and the fabless semiconductor industry was soon in full swing with dozens—if not hundreds—of new companies founded. Shortly after, the dotcom boom and mobile revolution fueled the next wave of innovation in chip and processor architectures.
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