EDA users face a number of challenging constraints when designing products and the process can stress their underlying corporate information-technology (IT) infrastructure. In particular, the data-storage foundation is susceptible to limitations in a number of common scenarios.
A critical scenario is the matter of time-to-market sensitivity. As part of the engine driving successful product releases, EDA users face enormous time constraints that have rippling effects throughout the industry. Simply put, delays in the EDA process impact design wins, volume production, and ultimately revenue. There is little room for error and no tolerance for a slow or poorly performing storage installation.
Then there’s the matter of multiple users sharing a single data set. Many EDA users work collaboratively in teams to segment projects and speed time to market. The number of individual users per project can increase rapidly, with most users requiring high-throughput and low-latency access to a shared data set. This combination of a large number of users with high performance needs across a shared data set pushes the typical data storage solution to its limits. Historically, network attached storage (NAS) has served EDA users well, but many companies find that the ongoing reliance on NAS has spurred large and sometime unwieldy storage solutions striving to meet minimum performance levels. This is the result of an underlying server-storage performance gap between the increasing processing power of servers and the limitations of mechanical disk drives.
Frequently, EDA users rely on a collection of tools from multiple vendors. In addition to applications from Cadence, Synopsys, Magma, and Mentor Graphics, other useful applications fit specialized needs leading to a suite of tools for any given design project, each with its own impact on the storage infrastructure. In addition, software build processes take their toll on the need for powerful data processing. Supporting multiple teams across an application suite with acceptable performance adds capital costs plus days or weeks of attention from IT staff to deliver the appropriate service levels.
Strategies for EDA users to evaluate performance-enhancing options such as storage acceleration should focus on three themes, the first of which is a transparent fit with the users’ existing infrastructure. Markets move quickly, and IT departments cannot be expected to rip out and rebuild new storage infrastructure just to keep up with performance demands. There is too much existing information and data on current platforms that the IT team knows how to provision and protect. This is no small feat when dealing with hundreds of projects across thousands of enterprise users.
The second theme is that new products must complement the installed base with the minimum number of changes. That means little disruption or change to the methods for managing the current environment. In case of a directional change, the uninstall process should be equally elegant.
In the world of technology, simplicity usually wins. To maintain productivity at any level, there needs to be fewer overall processes than before. By accelerating storage, IT departments can provide dramatic improvements across a wide range of applications and build processes. Instead of tuning applications individually, the dramatic improvement in I/O throughput and reduced latency delivers a universal boost.
The third theme concerns peak load management and quality of service. For any organization, order and predictability rank high in the quest for growth. The institutional discipline to make commitments and deliver results requires a set of underlying services that are equally reliable. For EDA users, the data storage infrastructure enables creation and sharing of massive libraries, the collaboration across world-class talent, and the ability to turn a finished product into reality. Powerful data storage fosters the creative and production processes using the tools EDA users prefer. Storage acceleration enables guaranteed response times so that EDA users get the service levels they need. IT departments for companies relying on EDA tools can offer consistent and predictable performance to keep projects on schedule.
For EDA users in fast-moving markets, every second counts. Making the most of technology, people, and processes can be easier than you think. A quick look at your infrastructure, particularly the attention and dollars towards storage can highlight the need to look at storage acceleration.