One of the few things that remain constant in the engineering world is the desire for higher productivity. Innovation happens when engineers are designing something and creative ideas crop up when they are reviewing and analyzing the results. In between these fun steps, engineers have to deal with the necessary evil of creating workspaces, check-ins/check-outs, compiles, builds, releases, etc. These steps fall into the category of overhead time from an engineering productivity perspective.
What if you could…
How would you reimagine your EDA and SW development workflows if your design DATA were Agile?
I recently had a conversation with Scott Jacobson, EDA Solution Strategist and Michael Johnson, EDA Solution Architect, both from NetApp. I learned about some powerful capabilities of NetApp’s ONTAP Data Management Operating System that may very well be a secret to many. These capabilities, when leveraged can yield a productivity gain of 10% and above. Refer to a testimony from a “Top 3 Fabless Semiconductor Company.”
“It’s an incredibly powerful tool – instead of messing with builds / build artifacts / minor trees, where some builds have to run overnight, and messing with environments can take an hour or more a day, now the developers just take 5-10 minutes to create a clone. Now they can focus on what they were hired to do – develop chips…” —VP, Engineering
The purpose of this blog is to bring awareness of ONTAP’s powerful capabilities to a broader base, so more could increase their engineering productivity. There will be a follow-on blog that will be structured like a playbook or application notes detailing specific steps.
Changing Semiconductor Economics
The cost associated with 7nm, 5nm and now 3nm designs are growing exponentially due to ever increasing design complexity, transistor density and FinFET data growth. Development costs are dominated by the cost of engineering (people), EDA licenses and infrastructure over time. Shorten development time and we lower costs. Improve people, license, and infrastructure utilization and we lower costs. To materially impact the economics of chip development, we need to improve the time and the resources utilization.
Where are your innovation and productivity speed bumps?
Is innovation hampered by the time spent managing ever growing backend data sets?
Are your engineers
- Waiting on Daily or Weekly code checkouts and builds that take hours?
- Burning precious time tracking down regression bugs and backing out bad code commits?
- Spending time fixing or rebuilding corrupted workspaces?
- Being paranoid that a large backend design flow might break while trying to test a new idea or option?
What if you could transform all the above overhead into faster design interactions, quicker debugs, rapid innovations, lower development costs and improved development velocity?
NetApp’s ONTAP Data Management Operating System makes Data Agile
For over 25 years, NetApp’s ONTAP data management operating system has been helping semiconductors companies successfully develop chips. Most designers know about the .snapshot directory as the read-only hourly, nightly or weekly backup or “crap I need to recover a file”, directory that has saved you from potential disaster.
But many may not know that same Snapshot (or instant point in time READ-ONLY volume copy) can be created on-demand with a single API call with a snapshot name of their choice – say snapshot name of “chip-projectA-p4ID_1234”. The snapshot is an instant copy of the entire data volume.
Many are not aware that they could make another single API call and create an almost instant new READ/WRITE-able copy of an entire volume of data regardless of size. NetApp’s ONTAP operating system makes replicating massive amounts of design data as fast as the video graphics in Forte Night. ONTAP is like a data accelerator card for your development environment.
Instant Data Replication Regardless of Data Size
The ONTAP Data Management Operating System through its Snapshot and FlexClone capabilities can instantly replicate data, no matter how large the data size. It works in a way similar to 2D/3D Graphics cards off-loading CPU intensive graphics operations to a dedicated graphics rendering engine. A single NetApp RESTful API call can make a nearly instant point in time read-only copy (Snapshot) of a volume of data regardless of the size. Another single NetApp API call can make a nearly instant read/writeable storage efficient copy of a volume of data of arbitrary size. Call it data management completely off-loaded from the compute server – Agile Data Accelerated.
How would you revamp your EDA and SW development workflows with such a powerful data management tool that works for both on-prem and in the cloud?
The True Impact of Data Agility in a Chip Design Flow
Here are a couple of real-life examples of productivity gains by NetApp’s customers.
A customer who integrated Snapshots and FlexClone API calls into their design process saw Code Checkout times of roughly 1 hour followed by front-end build times of 2 hours reduced to less than two minutes. That is roughly a 3-hour faster time to productivity.
Another customer who has been using Snapshots and FlexClone in their front-end design and verification workflow has seen a reduction of Perforce code checkouts and VCS build times from around 60 minutes down to under 5 minutes. Now multiply that time savings by the number of developers in your organization who rely on fast code checkouts and builds and you get an idea of the magnitude of impact on developer productivity.
But the benefit it not limited to just engineering productivity increase. The above customer also saw a dramatic reduction in their P4/ICManage server load because of developers Cloning vs Checking out. This customer also saw a reduction in license, LSF compute and storage because the clone workspaces were already built.
The following graphic quantifies the productivity gain for a team in monetary terms for an example scenario of 500 developers. The data agility enabled by ONTAP can deliver a 10% productivity improvement as a conservative estimate. That is the equivalent of 50 additional engineers working on your designs.
Ready to transform your engineering environment?
If you are already using NetApp for your chip or software development, you already have what you need to get started. If you’re not currently using NetApp, you may want to explore leveraging it, going forward. The next blog will get into the technical details and how to get started on the path to increasing your engineering productivity.Share this post via: