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All change please!

The last decade has seen profound changes in the way design engineers work. What does the future hold? By Vanessa Knivett.

Change is a constant and nowhere does this apply more than in the electronics sector. That change means electronic design is a much different discipline than it was a decade ago.
What technology trends have had the most impact on organisations? Plextek’s managing director Colin Smithers highlights two issues from a system level perspective. “Design tools have improved and broadened in their scope. This is changing the way people work, from the cad design flow to the end result. It has resulted in a requirement for learning: of the tools themselves and the implications of their use.” The second issue is thermal design. “As device sizes decrease, getting heat out of them is becoming an issue for everybody.” Power consumption is a related issue. “This was traditionally a problem only because it generated heat. Now, it is an issue that leaves no design untouched,” he observed.
From an academic perspective, Tony Harker, ceo of the Institute for System Level Integration (iSLI), says: “The main trends are the march towards complex verification of large digital systems, mixed mode design in the analogue and digital domains, concurrent hardware and software development and, of course, the move to multi cpu systems. All of these have meant that iSLI’s material has required constant appraisal against industry trends.
“The vital QA mechanism within UK universities means the academic world may not be able to respond quickly enough to match industry’s tack. iSLI’s way of addressing this is through targeted Continuing Professional Development in key areas.”

Vanessa Knivett

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