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Synopsys and the Semico IP Ecosystem Conference

John Koeter, the Vice President of Marketing, for the Solutions Group at Synopsys, Inc., gave a presentation at the Semico Impact Conference:  Focus on the IP Ecosystem on May 16, 2012 that looked at the changes occurring in the market today caused by the rise in mobile devices. First, he started of by giving some metrics on the mobile market captured by Cisco.

  • In 2011, mobile data traffic was eight times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000.
  • Global mobile data traffic grew 2.3X in 2011, more than doubling for the 4th year in a row.
  • Mobile video traffic exceeded 50% of usage for the first time in 2011.
  • Average smartphone usage nearly tripled in 2011.
  • In 2011, a 4th generation (4G) connection generated 28X more traffic on average than a non-4G connection.
  • Average bandwidth available to a wide range of users is projected to increase from roughly 20Mbs in 2011 to be 10Gbs by 2020.
  • Roughly 1.2 ZB (zettabytes) of data were created and stored in 2010. This is forecast to increase to 7.91 ZBs by 2015. (a ZB is 1.0 trillion gigabytes of information)

These are very telling data points.  Smartphone shipments in 2010 registered 399.6 million units. Putting the unit volumes for 2010 together with the 1.2 ZB total for data stored in 2010 and comparing that to the forecast of 7.91 ZBs of data storage in 2015 shows how great an impact smartphones are having on the infrastructure for mobile devices. This is especially true when considering that the Semico forecast for smartphone unit shipments exceeds 1 billion units by 2016.

This means that not only will smartphone shipments more than double from 2010 – 2016, but that each smartphone user will more than triple their use of audio and video services in the same time period. However, there is an interesting twist to this story. Given how much the average bandwidth available to users will increase between 2010 and 2020 to accommodate this surge in user demand, additional types of services now become possible to the market at large. John also discussed some of the new possibilities for consumer oriented services:

  • Reality : Augmented Reality – Blended Reality
  • Search: Agents – Information that finds you and networks that know you
  • 2D - 3D – Immersive Video – Holographics
  • Medical: Mobile Medical – Personal Medical
  • Person to Person - Machine to Machine – Human Machines

Some of these trends are happening now with trials of augmented reality, 3D, mobile medical and machine to machine types of systems and networks. Given these trends, it is not difficult to envision the increases in processing power and the corresponding increases in SoC design complexity needed to deliver the silicon performance to make these classes of functionality market realities. Synopsys introduced its first Audio IP Subsystem product at the end of March 2012.

This is a complete, self contained HW and SW Subsystem, accompanied by >500,000 lines of application code, 28 industry standard audio codecs, is fully programmable, has over 200,000 hours of verification testing and has 1 or 2 ARC CPU cores included. It plugs seamlessly onto a SoC AHBA AHB and AXI bus and host software framework for easy integration and can function as a virtual prototype for software development independent of the final SoC silicon. Given that most or all of the new market possibilities listed above will probably have video functions, that means most will also require audio functionality as well.

As consumer expectations increase for an ‘immersive’ experience, audio will figure prominently in those expectations. Synopsys chose well when they decided to extend their line of Sonic Focus products with their new Audio IP Subsystem. It plays directly into these emerging applications and the silicon needed to power them.