ClioSoft is well known for their SoC design data management software SOS7 and more recently for their IP reuse ecosystem called designHUB. What is less known is how designHUB enables design teams to collaborate efficiently and better manage their projects by keeping everyone in sync during development. Not only does it provide a platform for design teams to more easily integrate IPs into their designs and collaborate more efficiently, but it also enables cooperation among diversified groups that normally would not work that closely together. This is an essential element of project management for complex systems-on-chip (SoC) and systems-in-a-package (SiP) designs.
With the advent of the Internet-of-Things (IoT), systems are becoming much more complex as they use heterogeneous system architectures both on the SoC and within a package. These systems can have multiple different CPU cores, hardware accelerators, memories, network-on-chip (NoC) fabrics and numerous peripheral interfaces. Added to this are the complexities of the package, interposer and production board, not to mention boards designed for silicon bring-up and for prototyping. IoT system projects can have hundreds of engineers with different backgrounds and expertise working on them. The question then becomes how to manage and coordinate efforts between system designers, software engineers, IC designers, package and interposer designers, design-for-manufacturing (DFM), design-for-test (DFT) and test engineers.
ClioSoft’s designHUB turns out to be an excellent platform to bring these diverse groups together. When design data management is discussed we tend to gravitate to the various design data formats that needs to be shared between groups. We forget however that there is a much larger set of data represented by the knowledge base of the engineers that create the design. Additionally, for any given function, there is meta data about the function such as specifications, verification methodologies, test methodologies and manufacturing assumptions to which that function is being designed. This is true whether you are designing hardware logic, embedded software, NoCs, or last-level cache memories for the system. ClioSoft’s designHUB provides a rich environment that allows data of any form to be documented, versioned, stored, linked to other dependent data, searched and retrieved.
The unique thing about designHUB is that it provides a dashboard that tracks all activities in which an engineer is involved. The dashboard gives each designer a customized experience that can be set up to notify them upon specific events that may impact their work.
As an example, if a software developer is writing a device driver that is dependent upon some custom logic, and details for that custom logic are changed, designHUB can be set up to instantly notify the software developer of the changes. The software developer would have access to a knowledge base for the design part in question, where they could get details about the changes that occurred. Similarly, impacts to the developer’s code may propagate on to system test engineers who are working on the modules that will be used to validate the device driver once parts are back from manufacturing. Schedule changes can also be propagated to those with dependencies as well as to a master schedule that is reviewed by project management.
ClioSoft’s designHUB also has a social media component to it that allows for crowdsourcing type interactions. Open questions can be asked of the project with anyone in the project being able to share their insights and knowledge. All knowledge shared becomes part of the knowledge database for the project as well as for the part of the design that is being discussed. Some subjects such as verification and test tend to cut widely across a project. Proposed changes in these types of areas can be quickly discussed. Management can also play a part in these discussions enabling fast decision making and easier dissemination of policy changes to project team members using the communications capabilities of designHUB.
The best part of all this interaction is that the conversations and data are preserved for the next revision of the project or for derivative designs that may use parts of the current project. Not only is the basic design data stored and versioned, but also the meta data about the design including dependency relationships between different modules. This means that project managers can track the impact of proposed changes to modules to gauge the impact of a desired change and to check that affected areas are indeed re-verified to ensure the new changes have not inflicted collateral damage in other parts of the project. In addition, if a designer leaves the company the design knowledge remains captured within designHUB thereby protecting the company from any major problems.
Lest this sound a little too open or lacking in controls, rest assured that you can also use designHUB to enable workflows with approval and signoff procedures for the various design objects such as IPs, documents etc.. ClioSoft’s designHUB can also track time through various project phases which can later be used for post tape-out lessons-learned reviews. The idea here is to make decisions as transparent as possible without giving way to total anarchy. Projects are still “managed” but it becomes much easier for management and engineering teams to make informed decisions and to stay abreast of changes being made to the project that might affect them.
All in all, designHUB is a great suite of tools that is only just beginning to see reveal some of its features and use models. For now, we can check off IP management and Project management. It will be interesting to see what users come up with next.