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DAC 2022 – Is it too risky not to adopt RISC-V?

I was fortunate enough to attend the 59th Design Automation Conference (DAC) in San Francisco last week. Aside from the Covid closure in 2020 I’ve been going to DAC since 1995. Many people, including me, arrived to the San Francisco with a bit of trepidation. After all, 58th DAC had low attendance and it was only ~7 months ago. What was the DAC 2022 conference going to be like? How would Covid affect things? Would international travelers come to San Francisco?

Frankly, I was impressed! Yes, the exhibit hall is smaller than it used to be. Yes, the attendance is not what it was in the 2000’s… and yes, there were times where it was quite slow on the exhibit floor. At the end of the day the many international travellers did show up and the conference and exhibits were quite well attended. At Codasip we met with customers and prospects from all over the world — Korea, Japan, Europe, the US, and more.

The Codasip team at our booth
The Codasip team at our booth  

Moore’s Law continues to slow

I started the week on Sunday at the well-attended Needham analyst event with Charles Shi. Charles mentioned there were concerns about a semiconductor down cycle but thought that the EDA and IP companies could push through without too much trouble. Charles expanded on his talk from December 2021 noting that Moore’s Law continues to slow and this is, at least partially, driving wafer and transistor costs higher as transistor density is no longer doubling in each new node.

I latched onto a comment that Charles made — that leading systems companies were designing their own chips. Companies like Apple, Tesla, and others were beating Moore’s Law and differentiating their product by building their own custom chips.

Slide from Charles Shi's talk - System providers designing their own custom chips
Slide from Charles Shi’s talk – System providers designing their own custom chips

If scaling is no longer an option in most situations, optimization means customizing a processor for your specific application. The only way forward to differentiate is architectural innovation. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to look at our whitepaper on semiconductor scaling.

The demo at our booth showing the benefits of adding custom instructions on our L31 RISC-V core raised a lot of interest

The demo at our booth showed what Jon Taylor, our Director of Application Engineering, presented at Embedded World 2022 on customizing RISC-V cores to accelerate neural networks. You can watch his talk here.

Optimism around the industry, RISC-V, and Codasip

One of the highlights of my week was the executive dinner hosted by the Codasip management team. The intimate event included customers, partners, and industry supporters. We shared ideas, told stories, and had a lot of laughs together. There is nothing quite like having this time in person – the online meetings just can’t compare. One takeaway from that event was the optimism around the industry, RISC-V, and Codasip.

Executive dinner hosted by the Codasip management team

Is it too risky not to adopt RISC-V?

A couple of weeks ago, Embedded World 2022 showed us that the RISC-V genie is now out of the bottle. It was therefore no surprise to see that a key theme of this DAC was RISC-V. RISC-V appeared in papers, posters, presentations, tutorials, and in the exhibit hall. There were new university ideas, cool security projects, open-source and commercial implementations of RISC-V, and verification technologies, to name a few.

The question is no longer if RISC-V is too risky too adopt — but is it too risky not to adopt.

And companies are adopting RISC-V. The RISC-V International community is made up of over 200 companies from 50 countries. A quick search on shows over 400 job postings referencing RISC-V in the US alone. This doesn’t even include the dozens of jobs that Codasip has open!

One very interesting thing we heard at DAC is about John Deere designing their own ASICs to improve customer productivity and help to deliver more value to farmers. The company, by investing in building its internal capabilities around data science and analytics, is transforming into a data-driven technological manufacturing company. The John Deere Operations Center delivers value to farmers with tools and features that enable them to easily access farm information to better manage their daily operations. This article is a nice summary of how John Deere is leveraging AI, IoT and data analytics.

All in all, it was a great week at the Design Automation Conference. I’m certainly looking forward to the 60th DAC in 2023. It was great to see all of the new innovation in the industry and especially around RISC-V. RISC-V is here and the team as Codasip is proud to be leading the way with our unique approach to RISC-V.

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