India’s chip designing ecosystem boasts of a highly skilled talent pool of semiconductor design engineers, who make up about 20% of the world’s workforce1. These skilled professionals are at the forefront of cutting-edge chip development, contributing to both global semiconductor giants and domestic design service companies.
According to the Invest India website, India is the second largest mobile manufacturer and second in the number of Internet users in the world. Low cost of Internet – one of the lowest globally - and digitization of many citizen’s services mean that more people are using electronics in everyday life – from smartphones to smart wearables to payment gateways. Globally, increasing consumer demand for smaller and faster devices, advancements in technology, and changing consumer preferences are aggressively driving the semiconductor industry.
These factors have resulted in rapid technology advancements in which the semiconductor design has taken center stage. To keep up with market demands, chip design engineers need to quickly learn cutting-edge trends like Artificial Intelligence and, 3D-IC integration. In addition, sustainability-focused chip development is coming to the fore.
AI in chip design
Artificial intelligence is already revolutionizing our world as we know it, playing a key role in helping design engineers tackle chip design challenges with better results and greater efficiency. While the trend has kicked off, in 2024, we expect to see more adoption of AI technology in the chip design process.
Machine learning algorithms are becoming instrumental in optimizing chip layouts, enhancing performance, and addressing design challenges more efficiently. The comprehensive analysis of historical designs, performance metrics, and manufacturing parameters is fueling the development of more innovative and more compact chips.
One must note here, however, that AI in chip design is an enabler - it serves as an augmentation tool rather than a replacement for deep engineering human expertise required for specific analysis or solving complex problems.
The collaboration between human expertise and AI insights is not just a trend; it's a paradigm shift that is reshaping the very essence of chip design.
Emergence of of 3D-IC and heterogenous integration
3D-IC (three-dimensional integrated circuit) is a relatively new technology where multiple layers of integrated circuits (ICs) are stacked on top of each other rather than being placed side by side on a single silicon wafer. This three-dimensional stacking enables more efficient use of space, improved performance, and enhanced functionality in comparison to traditional two-dimensional ICs.
While 3D-IC technology has been under development for several years, it is now gaining substantial momentum as a prominent trend. This technology allows engineers to combine and customize various components, technologies, and materials, tailoring the design to meet specific requirements.
The technology enables the integration of specialized circuits, including high-performance processors and memory, within the same package, leading to the development of faster and more efficient systems.
As chip designers continue to explore the potential of 3D-IC technology, they are expected to improve the efficiency and speed of electronic systems, while also creating opportunities for sustainable innovations. This promises to bring about a significant change in the landscape of chip design in 2024 and beyond.
Sustainable chip design
In today’s business landscape, sustainability is not a mere buzzword, but has evolved into a business principle with social and economic ramifications. Energy efficiency stands out as a paramount concern, and sustainable chip design techniques, such as optimizing power consumption and exploring the use of recyclable materials, are poised to make significant contributions to greener practices within the industry.
Sustainable chip design not only aligns with global environmental goals but also caters to the growing consumer preferences for eco-conscious technologies by increasing the lifespan of electronic products and reducing electronic waste. The need of the hour is for the ecosystem to join hands and share best practices, conduct joint research, and collectively address challenges related to sustainability.
Collaboration across the ecosystem stakeholders, from chip designers to manufacturers and end-users, is crucial for creating a circular economy where the lifecycle of electronic components is optimized for both resource efficiency and reduced environmental impact.
In 2024, the industry's commitment to sustainable practices is expected not only to contribute to a greener future but also to emerge as a key differentiator in the competitive landscape. This commitment is likely to influence consumer choices and shape the direction of technological advancements.
Towards a brighter future
We are currently experiencing a significant digital transformation, with ever-increasing reliance on electronic devices for communication, leisure, and work. The relentless demand for high performance, computing power, and energy efficiency is driving advancements in chip design.
The combined impact of AI, 3D-IC, and chip design for sustainable technologies on the future of technology is poised to redefine the capabilities, efficiency, and ethical considerations of electronic devices.
-- Alok Jain Corporate VP, R&D, Cadence Design Systems.