AI will be increasingly important in EDA, reducing design costs and supporting engineers

Artificial intelligence (AI) is having one of its periodic days in the sun, and dominates the conversation at almost any industry event. The Design Automation Conference (DAC 2023) was no exception, with AI seen by the semiconductor community as both an opportunity and a challenge. 

An opportunity, of course, because AI requires so many chips, from the huge and complex system-on-chips that will power the AI engines and models, to the semiconductors that will be embedded in every device to bring AI to every application.  

The complexity of the chips fuels demand for a wide variety of IP, but this is where some of the challenges are seen. Integrating many blocks of sophisticated IP to form an AI system-on-chip – which may also integrate yet more functionality such as 5G – is a long process, and it requires very advanced skills. There may be hundreds of IP blocks that need to be tested and integrated, with the results recalibrated every time one of the blocks is changed or enhanced. Identifying the cause of a fault or failure may take many engineer-weeks. 

This is true of other chip applications too, of course, including 5G. Engineers with the required skills are in short supply in many markets, and that shortage is worsened by two factors – the number of AI-focused chip start-ups that are now competing for talent, and the increasingly long design cycle for a complex chip, which will consume a growing number of engineer hours before it is ready. 

At DAC, Alberto Sangiovanni Vincentelli, from the University of California at Berkeley, said in a presentation: “The scarce resource of the future is talent. Everyone and his brother wants to study AI. But we don’t have the people to design the chips to implement that AI.” 

DAC buzzed with discussion about how to address the skills gap in electronic design and manufacturing. Some of the ideas were conventional – making electronic engineering more attractive to young people at school and college level, for instance. But of course, another option is to use AI itself, to help or even replace the engineers. 

Some attendees were positive about this development, claiming AI could reduce the time to develop new chips, by taking on some of the tasks of design assistants.  

Of course, others believe such an approach would eventually threaten jobs altogether, especially if the skills shortage eases in future, and the use of AI also entails disruption to tried-and-tested processes and organizational structures. 

But, at least with the current state of AI technology, replacement of engineers is fanciful. Where AI excels is in rapidly gaining actionable insights from huge quantities of data, such as that generated by EDA tools, and that can support the engineers and make their design and verification tasks quicker and less onerous. 

An example is Thalia’s AMALIA software platform. This is an IP re-use platform for analog and mixed-signal ICs, that allows designers to re-use IP blocks quickly and optimise existing IP for new applications. The suite of tools are designed to free up engineers’ time for complex and high-value tasks by automating key processes. The powerful combination of two of the AMALIA tools, the Technology Analyzer and Circuit Porting, which use unique AI algorithms, can be combined typically resulting in up to 70% of IP blocks needing minimal or no changes before they are re-used. This saves a significant amount of engineering time because every block doesn’t need to be manually checked and verified. 

This example shows how AI is already being incorporated into design automation toolsets in order to boost efficiency and improve commercial outcomes. In other words, AI can be a valuable way to support engineers and reduce the time to produce and test complex chips – including those that will, themselves, enable AI processing and applications in future. 

Thalia announces new additions to its senior management team and Board

Thalia, analog IP reuse specialist, has made a number of appointments to its senior management team and Board to drive its recently announced expansion plans. 


Syed Ahmad, VP Product Development

Joining as Vice President of Product Development, Syed Ahmad brings a wealth of experience, having worked with a variety of start-ups and multinational technology companies for over 15 years. Prior to joining Thalia, Syed helped companies to conceptualize, design, plan and manage the delivery of leading-edge communication and collaboration solutions, throughout Europe and USA – bringing an international perspective to all aspects of product management and solutions development. 

Commenting on his appointment, Syed said: “I am working with an excellent and dedicated software development team and looking forward to adding my own mark and supporting team Thalia in the exciting journey to igniting innovation in EDA design automation. More will be revealed as we continue to embark on our path to help our valued customers of semiconductor IPs simplify and drastically reduce time, resources, and costs by leveraging AI & ML algorithms together with some software magic to efficiently speed up IP reuse and deliver design automation.” 


Guillaume d’Essautier, Chairman

Guillaume d’Essautier has assumed the role of Chairman on Thalia’s Board. With a distinguished career spanning four decades within the semiconductor industry, d’Essautier brings an extensive track record of leadership roles in prominent companies across Europe and the USA. 

Thalia’s Founder and CEO, Sowmyan Rajagopalan, says “As Board Chairman, Guillaume will play a leading strategic role in guiding our business through its next exciting stage of growth as we broaden our AMALIA platform and expand our geographical reach. Guillaume is highly-respected within the semiconductor industry and his expertise will be invaluable to the Thalia team and business.”

Most recently Guillaume was CEO of DelfMEMS. Prior to that he was CEO of ADD semiconductor which was acquired by Atmel in 2011. Other businesses that have benefited from his leadership include picoCHIP, Cadence, IBM, Rockwell, GEC-Plessey and Philips. He also holds an MSc in Material Science and an MBA from INSEAD. 


Ron Black, Board Director

Ron Black, CEO of Codasip, a German EDA and RISC-V IP company, has joined Thalia as a Board Director. Ron has over 30 years of industry experience in semiconductors, software, design automation, and IP. He has run a total of ten global technology businesses and been a director or advisor at many more, all of which involved scaling and/or corporate transformations.

Commenting on his appointment, Ron said: “I am excited to join Thalia, which is poised for dynamic growth through its class-leading EDA tools that help customers efficiently scale and optimize their analog/RF designs across process technology nodes.”  

Thalia’s strategic leadership appointments underscore the company’s dedication to pioneering advancements in EDA design automation and transforming the semiconductor IP reuse landscape.