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EDA Impact on Vision Sensor System Designers

An interview with Greg Lebsack, Mentor, a Siemens Business

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Could you tell us about your background?

I am the General Manager of the ICDS division at Mentor, a Siemens business, where I oversee the Tanner custom IC design and verification solution. I joined Mentor in 2015 as part of the Tanner acquisition where I was then the President of Tanner EDA. I have over 25 years of executive and technical management experience. 

What trends are you seeing in image sensor system designs that impact your business?

We see an explosion of new solutions in the computer vision market which is providing a wide array of opportunities for electronic design automation: from the design of self-contained systems that include analysis of the images, to the chip development for servers in the Cloud that are used to perform deep learning. Custom IC and FPGA design flows are well established but are seeing a new audience of computer vision and deep learning developers. This opens up the market to new ideas for existing companies and start-ups. Suddenly, sensor-based product development is exciting again and we see design teams tackling new challenges from IoT to Industrial IoT in order to deliver new solutions. From hobbyists, to universities, to small and large companies, designers are taking their new ideas to market by taking advantage of intelligent vision sensors. A new breed of designers has arrived and they are making hardware design trendy again.

How does the Tanner custom IC flow address this new breed of designers that are creating vision sensor-based systems?

We recognized early the opportunities that the IoT edge opens up to the new breed of designers and offers them a unique solution, tailored to their requirements. These designers are reshaping design flows and they have new expectations. They typically work in small teams and require integrated design flows to quickly and easily produce a functioning device while spending as little money as possible. They require the capability to develop a proof-of-concept for system validation in order to capitalize on the opportunity of the IoT market. Design teams need to rapidly implement products using integrated design flows that allow them to quickly develop all the pieces needed for the sensor-driven IoT edge device, including: sensing elements, analog circuit interfaces, analog-to-digital logic, digital logic, and RF, all at a low cost compared to traditional IC and systems design.

What makes the Tanner solution a best-fit for IC designers creating vision-based systems?

Many design teams employ the integrated IC design and verification solution from Tanner to create intelligent vision sensor-based IoT systems. Why? Creating a sensor-based IoT edge device is challenging, due to the multiple design domains involved. But, creating an edge device that combines the electronics using the traditional CMOS IC flow and MEMS sensors on the same silicon die can seem impossible. Tanner provides a single, top-down design flow for IoT design, unifying the analog, digital, RF, and MEMS design domains. Whether you are designing a single die or multiple die IoT device, you can use the Tanner design flow for design, simulation, layout and verification.