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Agile IC: All You Gotta Do To Join Is…

Agile IC: All You Gotta Do To Join Is…
by Paul McLellan on 04-24-2015 at 7:00 am

 Back last October 1st was an announcement of Agile IC Methodology. As I said then:Today Sonics has launched the Agile IC Methodology along with several collaborators. The initial phase is to create a LinkedIn group to start the discussion.

See also Agile IC Development

At that point there was just an idea and a LinkedIn group. The group now has well over 300 members from about 60 companies. In addition, Neil Johnson of XtremeEDA created a similar group called AgileSoC which has over 500 members. So there is a lot of interest. The Design Automation Conference (you knew that is in San Francisco from June 7-11th didn’t you?) has added a meeting on the subject, the Agile IC Methodology Forum. This will be in room 306 on Tuesday from 10.30am until noon. If you are interested, then just show up. There is no need to register, any DAC badge (including exhibitor badges) will let you in.

The roots of Agile IC development are in Agile software development. In software development, it would not be incorrect to call it a movement. It is not there yet in the IC world, although the needs and motivations are almost identical:

  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • working software over comprehensive documentation
  • customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • responding to change over following a plan

 The hottest buzzword in semiconductors right now is the internet of things (IoT). What is most notable about IoT is that nobody really knows what it is. Furthermore, in many areas, nobody has much idea of precisely what product features make for a winner which means that development has to start before there is a spec. The old waterfall model where marketing writes a spec and then engineering builds all the hardware and software is simply unworkable and too inflexible. Any spec in IoT will be obsolete before it has even been completed. It is not just IoT, it is pretty much any system. The next iPhone, for example, has to be ready a year after the last one to make the holiday gift-giving season.

So the methodology has to change, has to become more agile. It is not just ICs either. Almost any IC today also contains a huge software stack. Qualcomm, for example, is the largest fabless semiconductor company but it employs more software engineers than hardware designers, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that same statistic applies to Intel.

The speakers at the DAC event are:

  • Randy Smith of Sonics who told me he will give a rallying call to Agile IC Development and details of what it is and how to contribute, the top-down view
  • Neil Johnson of XtremeEDA who told me he approach from the other end and will look at bottom-up view, what individual designers or small teams can do inside an organization that is anything but agile, to create small initial successes
  • A 3rd person, probably from the FPGA world

 There will be plenty of time for discussion.

As Arlo Guthrie sang (well, spoke) in Alice’s Restaurant:They may think it’s a movement. And, friends, that’s what it is. And all you gotta do to join is to sing it the next time it comes around on the guitar

Well, that’s not how you join the Agile IC movement, you should:

  • Enrol in the Agile IC LinkedIn group if you have not already done so. The group page is here
  • Show up during DAC in room 306 on Tuesday June 9th from 10.30am to 12pm
  • Watch the presentation Solving the System-Level Design Riddle from Design World

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