Interview with Analog Devices

Vaishali of Electronics Maker conducted telecon interview with Analog Devices Spokesperson. She interacted with Dan Liebholz, Engineering Director, General Purpose Digital Signal Processing (GP-DSP) Division at Analog Devices and Dr. Samuel H. Fuller, Vice President of Research and Development and Chief Technology Officer at Analog Devices.

DSP-based applications still are built around performance, determinism and low latency and our core programmable processors were developed and evolved with these requirements in mind.
Dan is responsible for the strategic direction and execution of the development of high performance, complete solution DSP products and technologies across multiple industry verticals.
What is most promising about DSP technology that you would like to share?
Digital signal processing covers wide application space that includes defense and military systems that require high end processing and ranges to mobile phones and consumer electronics devices where power requirements are stringent. The architecture of a digital signal processor has to be scalable to cover these requirements which move in multiple directions. On the high end, we have seen a great demand for systems that require a multiple step up in terms of sophistication and system level architectures. The data processing capability within our systems has increased greatly with each generation. Areas such as safety, security and connectivity are all required as part of the standard technology. On the lower end, while the data throughput is lower and power requirements are stringent, the same types of system levelrequirements are also present. The most promising aspect is that we are able to provide a roadmap that addresses these needs in a balanced manner. We also continue to augment our programmable cores with focused accelerators that are easy to program and use. The common thread is that our DSP hardware and software technology allows us to innovate at the system level and make digital signal processing even more integrated into the signal chain.Some specific examples include larger integrated memory, more signal chain integration, a continued move to higher level programming languages, lower power, multi-core for additional p e r f o r m a n c e , a n d s t a n d a r d i z i n g o n microcontrollers for the control plane.
Which are the trends driving the expansion of DSP technology?
Some of the trends include requirements that have driven the pervasive system architectures that accompany the DSP technology. This includes features such as safety and security, for example. It also includes the level of connectivity that the systems must include. Macro level trends are also d o m i n a t e d b y a d v a n c e s i n v i s i o n a n d communications. For example, vision has worked its way into many applications and the need for image processing and video analytics has driven DSP technology. On the communications side, both the need for more bandwidth and also for secure communications helps expand the technology.The pervasive system level features also allow the technology to propagate into expanded markets. For example, the addition of security may mean exposing breakthrough technology without the risk for IP theft or malicious attacks. The integration of safety-friendly features may expand the type of system the technology is use in.
Can you overview the DSP market growth globally?
Digital signal “processing” is the broader category for discussion. In this sense, digital signal processing applications are pervasive globally. Developers have many options in the products they select. Digital Signal Processors are a subset of both embedded processors (which do control and signal processing) and digital signal processing, which includes nonprogrammable analog and digital elements, such as conversion, signal conditioning, filtering, etc. We continue to make a strong investment to expand our reach in these application spaces with Blackfin and SHARC. At ADI, we also have the advantage because we can leverage, integrate and build on the entire signal processing signal chain.
What do you think about India’s R&D
potential and design innovations?
Analog Devices started its India Product Development back in 1995 with 10 SHARC® Engineers. Fast forwarding to today, The India design center is involved in some of the most challenging designs today, including complex Application Specific Standard Products (ASSPs), high performance DSPs, Analog/Mixed Signal ICs, and embedded software that powers these semiconductor chips. The team at IPDC hasdeveloped Multi-generation of industry leading SHARC® processors and Blackfin® products, Signal processing ASICs for Inertial MEMS, advanced analog and mixed signal products. Engineers at IPDC are involved in all stages of product development from “Concept to Silicon to Production and Supporting Customers Worldwide”. Today, the engineering teams in India for global MNCs, Indian OEMs and design houses are extremely competitive globally. We see our customers as well having their design centers inIndia doing significant amount of innovations and latest generations of products in India.Our team in India is critical to our success. Every one of our functional teams has a major presence in India. This include hardware design, product test and engineering, software and tools and applications engineering who support customers globally. The teams execute projects on time. They drive system definitions, they innovate. More and more of our key projects are being done entirely in India.
Can you overview this year R&D strategies for Analog Devices India?Analog Devices India design center is involved in some of the most challenging designs today, including complex ASSPs, high performance DSPs, Analog/Mixed Signal ICs, and embedded software. The team in India has developed Multi- generation of industry leading SHARC® processors and Blackfin® products and our India design center is frequently referred to as the “Home of the SHARC®. Signal processing ASICs for Inertial MEMS, advanced analog and mixed signal products including both precision and high speed converters are designed here which is particularly important as ADI has close to 50% of the market share in converters.
The team here in India has taken complete productownership of the products they design include design, test, and supporting customers globally and hence the strategy has always been for scaling up in terms of value, expertise and skillset and never so as a support center for engineering tasks or simply as a lower cost center.What are the challenges facing by India design engineers?

Design engineers in India face the same challenges of design engineers elsewhere: continual learning to stay abreast of the rapid advances in integrated circuit and software technologies.

Tell us more about Analog Devices DSP products? What are the key and modern applications?
We continue to serve a broad customer base with our products. These products operate in conditions that span from consumer devices to automotive systems to industrial and military systems. This diverse customer base has allowed us to evolve our offerings to include some stellar products. Our customers want a balance/trade-off between performance and low power at a commensurate cost. This typically includes a flexible peripheral set with large on- chip memories. DSP-based applications still are built around performance, determinism and low latency and our core programmable processors were developed and evolved with these requirements in mind. These attributes are foundation items for our products and technology.
Because our customer base spans such a range of applications, our products find homes in many emerging spaces. Our focus has continued to be on outstanding performance and ease of use. Some of the more recent applications include automotive driver assistance, energy, and industrial vision. The balance of programmable processing and system level architectures enable our success. Our most recent Blackfin® based product has integrated connectivity, but it also has a focused vision-based accelerator. Because it will be used in automotive driver assistance systems and industrial vision applications, it has a high level of safety features.
One quick item to note here is the Vision based multi-core DSP processor used for automotive vision was design here in India.

What do you think about DSP future advances in emerging applications?
The broad range of applications we serve and the wide availability of our products and tools often give us an early window into emerging applications. Some examples include energy- related applications and vision-based systems. We continue to see DSP adoption in emerging applications. Part of the reason is in the flexibility our products provide in terms of processing capability, peripheral mix and memory. We have a range of fixed-point (Blackfin®) and floating point SHARC® –based products that map to emerging applications. We offer scalable options so that high-end products can be used in the first generation of emerging applications but scaled down lower end products can be used for cost optimized version of the more mature applications.
Have you noticed any interesting market trends in India?
As I have noted earlier, the past decade was a consumption story in India. The signs are emerging this decade as a “Designed in India” story. The most important factor that is increasing India’s role is that a number of Multinational companies (MNCs) and Independent Design Houses are now doing entire system designs in India. Engineers working for system companies have gone through a significant maturation over the years. What initially began as an IT and software hub, a low cost center primarily for software and IT, has expanded over the years to include embedded software, PCB Layout, system re-engineering, module or sub-system engineering to complete and complex system design including architecture definition and component selection. Companies doing designs in India are at different stages of this value–addition pipeline. Though still small, this community is growing. These designs are not only for the India or the emerging markets, but have been successful in the global markets as well. The Indian government also has realized the importance of the Electronic Systems and Design sector and putting more emphasis in this area in t e r m s o f p r o m o t i n g m o r e d e s i g n a n d manufacturing.
What do you think about India opportunity to drive global market?
In terms of Engineering leadership, Analog Devices India is already doing it. The product teams in our Bangalore design center engage with their marketing and product management counterparts in different parts of the globe and take the products from concept to silicon to supporting customers worldwide. In terms of engineering leadership, Indian engineers not just in Analog Devices, but inmany cases in our India customer locations have demonstrated and proven it.
As the India and emerging market opportunities grow, there will be several occasions for the India teams to demonstrate product leadership as well where the entire product is conceptualized and designed in India. While this has started in few pockets mainly with our systems customers, in the India arm of the MNCs and Indian design houses, this will accelerate tremendously in the next few years. While the past decade of India has been primarily a Consumption story, “Conceptualized and Designed in India” will be the story this decade.applications: automotive, health care and general purpose digital signal processors.
Besides, systems engineering and worldwide applications engineering teams supporting key products and market verticals are also present in India.
How do you predict the shape of India’s
University in future?

The IIT’s, IISc and Regional Engineering Colleges are a solid foundation for educating the engineering talent of the future. ADI is seeing a growing ability of Indian Universities to graduate Bachelors and Masters of Engineering students capable of joining Analog Devices product design teams and quickly becoming productive members of the design teams.
We at Analog Devices are working closely with the academia to build more practical knowledge among the graduating students. We recently initiated Anveshan – a fellowship to nurture the system design skillset and expertise among the student community which has been widely popular with close to 100 teams participating.
We also initiated our university program (http://www.analog.com/india/university) with the launch of an affordable and portable personal circuit design lab for students this January 2013 at the VLSI conference in Pune. This circuit design lab helps students to design and experiment anywhere and anytime without the need for expensive lab equipment in a sophisticated lab setup.
What are the core competencies of the
Indian design center?
The India Design Center has multiple groups working on several areas across Analog Devices product portfolio. Digital Signal Processing, algorithms and software tools, MEMS, precision and high speed converters are a few product areas that are handled by the India design center. The India design has a core competency in System on Chip(SOC) design methods. The center applies its core competence in SOC design to embedded systems in a range of signal processing

Tell us about your innovations for India that will face these challenges?

The India team has taken on tremendous challenges in the last few years. From designing one of the largest chips at Analog Devices to integrating the complete signal chain on a single chip, the India team has demonstrated the keen ability to deliver on the promises with quality and on time.Vice President of Research and development and Chief Technology Officer at Analog Devices.

The most important factor that is increasing India’s role is that a number of Multinational companies (MNCs) and Independent Design Houses are now doing entire system designs in India.

Dr. Fuller is an Engineering Fellow at multiple prestigious organizations and in his current role, is responsible for determining the strategic R&D direction at Analog Devices globally.

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