DATE: The rise of the power architect

By Paul Dempsey |  1 Comment  |  Posted: March 20, 2013
Topics/Categories: Blog Topics, Commentary, Blog - EDA, - ESL/SystemC  |  Tags: , ,  | Organizations:

The challenge of meeting declining power budgets has seen a new breed of architect emerge alongside the system architect and the design manager. The power architect may have an architectural background, but an increasing number of wireless chipset companies are creating the new role.

“We’ve seen a number of the leading players – mostly tier one but also some tier two – specifically recruit people for this position,” said Ridha Hamza, sales and marketing director for Docea Power.

“Power has become so complex as an issue, especially for these [wireless] companies that they are bringing in specialists to handle it.”

With Docea’s role as a key supplier of system-level power analysis software, it is well placed to see the trend gather pace. And Hamza has noted a second allied shift.

“There is also an increasing amount of importance placed on thermal modeling,” he said. “Again, there has been a need there to bridge between the traditional role of the system architect and the thermal specialist.

“Thermal is becoming important for not just the wireless chipset manufacturers but also the handset manufacturers and in markets like server.”

Earlier this month, Docea announced the 3.1 release of its main Aceplorer software and the 2.0 release of its newer AceThermalModeler. An important aspect for the two is their much closer coupling, as well as hooks for Aceplorer that allow it to work with third party tools for co-simulation with timed virtual platforms and more detailed performance analysis.

A lot of the enhancements to both tools are aimed at smoothing the interplay between the power and thermal domains, as well as acknowledging the subdivision in the architects’ roles.

“Historically, there has needed to be a lot of interplay and communication between the different areas,” said Hamza. “And there is often also the need for input from external input owners.”

The goal is for an expert, power or thermal, to be able to feed analysis and data into the system and for the high level architect to then combine that within more realistic use cases more autonomously.

On the thermal side, runaways are becoming an increasing problem as users demand more functionality of mobile devices and Hamza says there was another significant ramp after DAC 2012.

AceThermalModeler seeks to simulate operation and monitor for runaway conditions, at which point it can suggest a system throttling and analyze its impact on ongoing performance.

Docea plans to announce further enhancements to its emerging thermal business at DAC 2013 in Austin.

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