We all live in the 21st century, meaning the majority of communication takes place via email, telephone or even blogging. With that said I have enjoyed putting a face to the name of a lot of ARM employees at the booth. I spoke to a colleague yesterday about the excellent Malcolm Gladwell book ‘The Tipping Point’, which really foreshadowed the theme of today’s events at DAC.
After my first day at DAC, Day 2 dawned and brought with it a whole new range of topics to sink my teeth into. Jet lag reared its ugly head and had me wide awake at 5am but this was actually perfect timing to swing by the ARM Samsung Synopsys breakfast. The lavish ballroom of the Park Central Hotel played host to a great session that gave insights into future networking, foundry and implementation. The session kicked off with ARM’s Wolfgang Helfricht talking about future networking evolution and he had a couple of key points that were quite telling:
40% of IoT data will be dealt with and analysed at the edge, meaning that data does not need to travel all the way to a datacenter and thus freeing up networks.
The other insight he had is that we will soon reach a tipping point in IT networks, and today’s excess networking capacity will be tomorrow’s bottleneck due to the infrastructure becoming overwhelmed. Therefore there is a need to invest in new, state of the art networks and datacentres in order to increase the grid’s capabilities to deal with the IoT revolution when that takes off.
Indeed, Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan mentioned during his fireside chat that datacenters are his hot tip for investment, that there is much growth potential there.
The session went on to show how the three companies collaborated to implement a Cortex-A53 processor with a CoreLink CCN-502 cache coherent network on Samsung’s 14nm LPP process in just a timeframe of 4 weeks! When people speak about short design cycles in SoC development it is normally in the mobile space but this shows that it is not just limited to that. One of the key arguments Malcolm Gladwell makes is that revolutions generally take longer to happen than you initially anticipate, but when it takes off then change happens much more rapidly than you would imagine. With that said, demonstrating the fact that a networking layout can be put together so quickly is a critical step in putting in place the networking infrastructure that will support the IoT revolution.
With that I ran across the street to make it in time for the morning keynote by Jeffrey Owens of Delphi Automotive. This is the conference event I was looking forward to most since the lineup was confirmed a few weeks ago as I have a big personal interest in automotive tech. Designing SoCs for automotive brings a lot of unique challenges, in a field where the difference between life and death is so small, the validation and quality assurance needs to be absolutely bulletproof for it to be accepted. To a certain extent this means that the pace of advancement can be hindered by security concerns but listening to Jeffrey would make you believe that even with the heightened quality requirements the velocity of innovation has not been stopped.
Listening to him speak, you get the feeling we are on the cusp of automobiles taking off in terms of technological advancements in three key areas; Safety, Green and Connectivity. While the opportunities here are massive, the automotive industry faces challenges keeping up with all of them and that's where it leans on the support provided by the design automation community to deliver on the potential for advancement that is out there. One of the major obstacles to this is software, and getting it to a release-quality level for the automotive industry as there can be no room for error.
Looking ahead, he spoke of OTA (Over The Air) updates for cars arriving as soon as 2016 which would go a long way to future-proofing the next generation of automobiles. Speaking of automotive, I have to give credit to Real Intent for having the best booth attraction at this year’s DAC! They have two driving simulators that allow you to try and beat the AI (in a case of human against autonomous vehicle) or challenge someone else to a race. From my own experience, the computers still have a bit of catching up to do before they drive faster than me
After a whirlwind morning of presentations and keynotes I took some time to breathe before checking out the ARM Connected Community booth. On Thursday I’ll bring you a full description of all the ARM partners on the booth but here’s a sneak preview with ARM's ronans.
"In this demo we're running Android on our Juno platform so we can play Angry Birds . You can see on the other screen that we have the Juno platform hooked up to Streamline within DS-5 and it is constantly monitoring the performance profile of the CPU on the platform. Within the game it’s quite low usage and run within the cache but we can see that when you load a new level there is a short spike in CPU load. It's a simple way of showing how CPU loads differ across different use cases and at particular times."
In the afternoon one of the highlights was the ChipEstimate.com panel discussion featuring williamorme, nickheaton (Cadence) and Brian Choi (Samsung) on IP configuration, integration and validation. Nick joked that ARM designs IP that is configurable, Samsung suffers the headache of attempting to configure it and Cadence attempt to solve this issue with their tools. It's yet another example of the large-scale collaboration that you see going on here at this event.
Today I got a sense of the design automation community’s unspoken mission, to build the future. Between looking at the engineering opportunities and challenges in networking and IoT to how automotives are quickly becoming the most powerful supercomputers, it seems that technological advancements are happening beyond the consumer sphere. To paraphrase a famous quote, day 2 of DAC was one of glimpsing the future and seeing just how it will work.
So tomorrow is the last day of DAC exhibitions, but there is still plenty happening on the show floor and at the conference. Here are some of the events I’m looking forward to: