Enhancing Semiconductor Design/Manufacturing Collaboration

By Eric
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Whether for a single customer or a larger market, investing in new semiconductor products is a high risk business with the potential for strong profitability, but also significant loss. Mitigating risks in the manufacturing process go a long way in assuring that those business investments are profitable. Risk mitigation can be done through comprehensive automation of the collaboration between engineering to manufacturing.  A number of benefits accrue through automation:

  • Consistent use of best practice know-how
  • Reduction of ECO costs  from best-practice process deviations
  • Enhanced oversight and compliance for material and chemical content reporting
  • Acceleration of product introduction time
  • Faster, lower cost accommodation for unexpected supply chain change decisions

 

This automation requires an integrated approach to configuring and managing the sourcing network as it applies to the IC BOM. The notion of an inverted IC BOM (see figure below) provides a model for defining the steps from which a wafer then is transformed into integrated circuit parts inventory. This becomes especially important when singulated dies find their way into a wide variety of finished goods SKUs.

IC BOM Example

The automation of this process is best done using a configurable rules system and process definition editor that creates hierarchical process that defines the execution of wafer-to-parts transformation. That transformation must not only embody best possible scenario that maximizes profitability, but also be configurable to accommodate unforeseen business and technical factors that require deviation from best business case in order to meet customer commitments. It should also  accommodate corrective workflows for possible process deviation errors.

The rules engine should be able to define the complete sourcing network including fabrication, bumping, singulation, assembly, sorting, testing, marking and inventory storage and shipment. Process managers should be able to create and change these processes without resorting to low-level IT coding support, so as to quickly respond to supply chain issues. The resulting process should also provide up-to-date requirements and test result traceability from NPI to manufacturing. It should include  analytics for flexible, end-user configurable assessment of process performance.

This process engine is then the structure for distributing manufacturing requirements and instructions, collecting test and operational data, creating a single go-to resource for design-to-manufacturing oversight.

Come visit us at the Design Automation Conference in San Francisco next week where our process architects for design-to-manufacturing process coordination will be discussing and demonstrating solutions and best-practices. We’ll be offering a full presentation and demo agenda, a cocktail hour and prizes.

Design Collaboration – What do we gain with integrated Design Analysis

By Eric
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High-Tech IndustryEven from the early days of chip design the different tasks involved from architecture, logic design, layout and verification were accomplished in most part as individual efforts. The considerations of the “other disciplines” most of the time were not part of the equation in accomplishing ones task. “Once the logic design is done the back-end person can figure out how best to implement the layout”. When chip complexity and size were not so great we could get away with this kind of approach.

Today with large scale SOC designs and aggressive design targets, sophisticated nm technologies and schedules, this can no longer be the norm. More and more design tasks are being parallelized to compress design schedules. Design teams are much larger and can be located in different parts of the planet. The complex silicon technologies require deeper, more time consuming analysis of an increased list of parasitic effects such as cross-talk, inductive and capacitive coupling, junction leakage, etc. to achieve functional, performance and power design targets. In addition, sophisticated design tools produce volumes of analysis data over hundreds of modes and corners for each design flow step in the implementation process which allow engineers to evaluate if the design is converging toward budget targets.

So how can we manage this torrential flow of data in a way that keeps us on track and meet aggressive schedules? We need the ability to collect all this data from all project instances consistently from each design step, where ever it is produced, to a centralized location. The data needs to be organized in a way that allows review in a systematic approach from a project level to detailed issue presentation. The hundreds of analysis corners that may be generated for each flow step covering different process and operating conditions should be captured and organized for quick review. Important key metrics need to be displayed and highlighted making it possible to to make decisions where to focus first. As shown in Figure 1 below, the system should allow all aspects of the analysis data to be viewed in context (such as timing, layout, power, congestion, etc.) to see how different metrics could be contributing to specific issues. Historical data collected by such a system can then be compared by various analysis capabilities (tables, plots, metric aggregation, views) to assess metric trends and determine if the design is converging to expected targets. The system would enhance the ability to weed out non-issues from “project-critical” issues, allowing focus on key resolutions for the next pass of implementation. Finally, the system should help in constructing the current status and progress of the design and highlight problematic blocks that need further attention.

Figure 1

This integrated system would be useless without the ability to share the organized database with others to collaborate on issues, resolutions and trends as the design matures to completion. A centralized database where all team members can view the same picture of issues allows better decisions to be made and help with communication between disciplines (i.e. front-end and back-end).

With the ability to collect data from anywhere at any stage the flow, automatically keep track of design progress and analyze issues from an integrated view the prospect of meeting or bringing in schedules for these complex SOC design projects becomes more attainable.

Also, we’re going to be at the Design Automation Conference in San Francisco this year again. We will have a full presentation and demo agenda, a cocktail hour and prizes, join us!

Why do Fashion brands and Retailers have to adopt an out of the box PLM solution?

By Celia
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Fast fashion, right fashion, on-time fashion, think global, act local, these are not just buzz words, they are real challenges big and not so big fashion brands must meet to satisfy consumers. The fashion landscape has changed because consumer buying habits have undergone a tremendous swing from the 1980s when clients used to shop at departments stores all stocked with the same product offering. These temples of fashion, which enjoyed a comfortable 10% share of the retail market at the time, have since lost their shine (attaining only a 2.6% share in 2011) in favor of smaller, more intimate specialty channels that cater to the specific tastes of the local consumer.

So what happened?

Fashion Collection for SMBPeople are tired of the global, impersonal model and want to be taken for who they are — individuals. The popularity of mobile technology and social networks confirm this individualization.  So, if brands want to reach these new consumers, they must speak their language so to speak, get closer to them, and cater to their local cultures, their likes, and their “individual-ness”. In an article published this month on whichPLM the author mentions another trend in which consumers long for a return to the friendly and available local shopkeeper of yesterday. The challenge is therefore twofold: on one hand brands can no longer exploit one channel with a uniform offering and hope to satisfy a global population that has become ever so ”individual” and on the other, they need to take into account a consumer’s desire for a more personal and intimate shopping experience. SH Lee, chairman of Tesco’s Korean Home, declared the “age of imperialism” over and urged retailers to tailor their offer to local cultures. And bingo! Focusing its efforts on the Korean consumer helped propel his company from 12th to 2nd largest retailer in Korea.

Keeping a profitable balance, however, between producing en masse but with a local twist is not easy. Not only do brands have to manage local differences in their product offerings, they have to turn out new collections fast to satisfy consumers’ desire for renewal. Success depends on whether brands and retailers can stay in touch with consumers’ changing needs and interests. PLM technologies can give brands better visibility when managing consumer feedback as well as assortments, designs, suppliers, manufacturing, and merchandising. As a matter of fact, industry experts predict fashion brands will invest billions in technology. IDC foresees that as product assortment refresh cycles quicken, 25% of mid-sized retailers will initiate new PLM or sourcing projects in 2014. And according to Just-style.com, the PLM market, “could grow up to 40% annually by 2014” boosted by medium-sized apparel firms that are planning to implement this technology.

Big vs. not so big

Fashion Collection for SMBAs speed to market and evolution in consumer tastes accelerate, apparel companies will need the power of PLM technology to  survive. But are all PLMs equal? Can large brands and not so large or niche players use the same PLM? When faced with the  question “to PLM or not to PLM”, how does one choose? When it comes to investing in PLM technology, big and not so big  brands pay attention to different things. 5 years ago a Tech-Clarity study had already pointed out that SMBs have their own wish  list for PLM that includes ease of use, rapid implementation, pre-defined templates, built-in best practices and a solution that  evolves as they grow. Yet today, PLM can still scare some SMBs away because they think it is too complex or too expensive to  implement. They do not have the same resources the big players have. But if the PLM in question is powerful yet packaged as an out-of-the-box pre-configured solution, it levels the playing field by reducing investment and cost of ownership for an SMB whose limited cash flow is not uselessly invested in functionalities that are too broad for its needs. Fashion Collection for SMB is for those not-so-big fashion companies that want to have the power of a PLM solution but scaled to their requirements. This out-of-the-box solution is also easy to learn and implement –a critical factor for user adoption.

The numbers speak for themselves

Brands that have adopted the 3DS solutions have produced some pretty impressive results: 200% increase in technical design productivity for a European outdoor brand that is able to review and approve 5 times more samples in the same amount of time or a medium size ready-to-wear apparel company that experienced threefold growth in product breadth and overall product lines. So if you are an SMB looking to grow your business and strengthen your brand, Fashion Collection for SMB is your door to PLM.

Learn more about Fashion Collection for SMB.

Celia NEWHOUSE is a member of the Consumer Goods Industry team.

 



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