Electronic Design

Integrated Design Flows Solve Communication Problems

Often overlooked in the rhetoric about integrated design flows is a fundamental reason why they are so important—they have helped reduce misunderstandings between design teams trying to communicate from different parts of the world.

A design-team manager recently confided to me that communications between his Silicon Valley-based design team and another based in China was often garbled, which tended to delay the project cycle. While English is the language they all use to communicate critical information, it’s a second language to most. And, naturally, some are more proficient than others. Team members were often called into discussions to translate terms or colloquial phrases for one another. Many times, he sensed frustration among team members in different locations trying to make themselves understood. It was clear that something drastic needed to happen.

After much research and evaluation, this consumer-electronics company implemented an integrated design flow. The decision was made for a number of reasons—many on technical merit—and the result has met with enthusiastic reviews. But perhaps the most dramatic change is that misunderstandings due to language barriers no longer occur.

Misunderstandings or a failure to communicate something clearly runs rampant throughout the corporate world. As offshoring and outsourcing become common practices in emerging business models, good communications will be evermore imperative for an electronics company. Executives need to carefully assess how their business actually can benefit from offshoring or outsourcing, or determine whether they are creating a different set of problems. And communications leads the list of problems, especially between geographically and culturally disparate teams. These executives who lead electronics companies must think outside the box to identify where they can get help.

For hardware designers, there is a solution in the form of methodology change or, more precisely, implementing an integrated design flow. We’ve all heard that a unified front-end and back-end flow, along with the unified data model architecture, eliminates iterations between the synthesis and place-and-route. One single data model, with a tight link between front- and back-end design, creates better communications.

Communications is the most fundamental element necessary for the success of any engineering project. An integrated design flow is able to streamline the flow of communication and eliminate misunderstandings of any kind. You may wonder, as I do, how discussion within the industry has overlooked such a vitally important element. Isn’t this reason enough to begin evaluating an integrated design flow?

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