You are here

A New Class of Data Center SoCs: John Koeter of Synopsys

John Koeter of Synopsys spoke at the Semico Impact Conference: Focus on the IP Ecosystem (November 6, 2013) about a new class of data center SoCs. Koeter is vice president of the Marketing Solutions Group at Synopsys. In this capacity he is responsible for the marketing of Synopsys' DesignWare® Intellectual Property (IP), Professional Services and System-Level Design products.

Koeter noted the trend of increasing internet traffic which is being driven by the mobile market. Globally, peak Internet traffic is expected to grow 3.5x from 2012 to 2017, a 29% CAGR. This will impact the IP world, as semiconductors are expected to meet the changing needs of the data centers. He foresees a major sea change in the data center. The trends are for software defined networks (SDN) and low power micro servers. Also, there will be improvements in the cost/performance ratio achieved through application acceleration with PCIe SSDs.

According to Koeter SDN will reach 35% penetration of the Ethernet switching by 2016. Data centers are moving away from proprietary solutions that are vendor specific. For semiconductor companies this represents $3.7 billion market for SDN and network infrastructure. New architectures are emerging to meet the needs of the data centers. The new semiconductor devices will be SDN-enabled switch ASSPs and SDN-enabled communication processors. Highly integrated processors for new micro servers which are focused on reducing power are necessary.

These SoCs integrate 64-bit CPU cores, networking, security and storage. The new class of SoCs will have targeted workload application acceleration and high speed industry standard IOs. Intel will be offering a 64-bit Atom for this market, but there are a number of ARM vendors working on the 64-bit ARM v8 cores. These devices need to address new storage standards and interfaces. The new micro server SoCs can lower power by as much as two-thirds. Micro servers are not suited for all applications. Serving up web pages and lookups are best served by micro servers.

Koeter pointed out the growing complexity of these designs. Citing Semico Research, he noted that the average number of IP blocks on a chip will grow from 140 in 2013 to 180 by 2017. But IP vendors are helping designers with reuse as the percent of IP reuse increases from about 40% today to almost 80% by 2017. Companies are providing more third party IP. Synopsys sees more customers flip from internally developed IP to licensed IP. The IP for data center SoC’s is driving the migration from 28nm to the 16nm/14nm node with FinFET.

Synopsys’ DesignWare offers an IP portfolio for datacenter SoC’s. Synopsys has a lot of experience designing FinFET. There are designs with Synopsys IP for FinFET in production right now. Leaders in datacenter are moving quickly to FinFET SoCs with tape outs expected in mid- to late-2014. Synopsys has invested three years in this area. FinFET drives power and performance. Koeter said that FinFET will keep Moore’s Law alive and could go down to the 7nm process node. The company has a close partnership with ARM for software development kits.

Koeter stressed that IP must address the right features, namely low latency, low power and energy efficiency. In addition to TSMC, Synopsys works closely with other foundries such as Samsung, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, UMC and others. The kind of IP offered by Synopsys, scale (volume) is necessary in order to be successful. The company has made significant investment in quality. For example, it has invested over $20 million in lab and computing infrastructure in the last three years, employs 1,900 engineers and has 20K CPUs running over 1 million regressions per week. Koeter emphasized that Synopsys has invested in IP to meet the needs of the data centers.

Monthly archive