AI now drives industry says EDA chief

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — It’s the age of AI, Moore’s Law is not dead, and technology is changing everything, according to Aart de Geus, co-chief executive of Synopsys, in a talk at the company’s annual user group conference here.

The advent of AI is a mile marker on par with the invention of the printing press and the steam engine, De Geus said.

“It will drive the semiconductor industry for the next few decades because Big Data needs machine learning and machine learning needs more computation, which generates more data. This will impact health, transportation and other vertical markets as they go digital,” he said.

AI made its first debut in a Synopsys product in 1986 in the form of an expert system called Socrates that evolved into its Design Compiler tool, he said. Today, Synopsys has several projects applying machine learning techniques to its chip design tools.

One challenge with the rise machine learning today is “you have to be careful not to start so many projects you lose focus on the meat and potatoes” of chip design, he said in a brief interview after his talk.

Representatives of a research center exploring use of machine learning in chip design said earlier this year that one hurdle is getting access to large data sets needed for AI, given the proprietary nature of design files. “If you can show chip designers the value of AI, this will not be an issue, de Geus said.

As for CMOS scaling, “Moore’s Law is not dead, it’s just getting more expensive,” de Geus quipped, showing a slide indicating 10nm and 7nm design starts are still in an early growth phase.

In a panel at the event, Synopsys technologists will discuss the “Path to a 2nm SoC” with experts from Samsung Foundry and Qualcomm.

De Geus says that Moore's law 'isn't dead but it is getting more expensive.' Image: Synopsys

De Geus says that Moore's law “isn't dead but it is getting more expensive.” Image: Synopsys

Despite any debate over Moore’s law, technology is no doubt spreading its influence broadly. For example, de Geus noted Synopsys now has tools for silicon photonics designers that include simulation and layout tools for photonic devices.

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