Once the design is finalised, you need to start prototyping and producing, and here, the third aspect of Silicon Thinking comes into the picture. There are processes that allow you to define the factors you are going to gauge from the product. One simple design can be used in different chips, different packaging and different functions, and these factors are manageable from the platform. Once you have the package, you can check if it meets the specifications. After you begin production, you can use the data to even optimise the application for manufacturing, using Silicon Thinking.
Q. How do you re-create the customer’s point-of-view?
A. We personally go talk to customers and check on how they are finding their experience on a platform like ours. It is most important to understand the problem right, as, when you give a customer the correct medicine for a problem, they come back to you the next time. Once we return to our offices, we discuss the problem at length with our research and development (R&D) personnel.
We try to incorporate what the customer wants, but we ask them to only state the problem and not offer any suggestions. We follow this as their views are either specific or very generic. Our aim is to provide a generic solution that can be customised as per the needs of the customer. At times, it also takes a bit of convincing from our end to show the customer that the solution offered and the words spoken are beneficial to them. We need to take into account the customers expectation, if you want to build a solution of the customer’s interest.
Q. Has there been any situation where a customer’s needs led to a feature being included in your tool?
A. About six years before, one of our customers modified our tool for a particular application. They had spent a lot of man-hours to figure out the perfect application, building each and every step, defining what the system should behave like. But things did not work out the way they wanted it to. When our engineers looked at it, they realised that although what they had produced was good, it was violating few design methodologies or rules, and product architecture. One such issue was with a process flow for a model they had built. After much deliberation, we gave them a wizard with the help of which they could create their own flow. They were very happy in the end. We ended up having the wizard in the product, instead of coding and delivering the flow that the customers made. 3D is a universal language, and sometimes, showing people virtually instead of using words works better.
Q. Is there any feature you have newly introduced into your platform?
A. There is one application called ‘Pinpoint’. This application helps engineers close down their designs in 3 critical areas. When you design a chip, especially a digital chip; you need to take care of three factors – timing, power and area. The lower/smaller each of these are, the better. Pinpoint is very valuable as it helps designers get reports of all three parameters on a single screen, so you can quickly identify focus areas. It is like a dashboard, and you can choose to access needed pop-ups once every three or four hours.