By Burkhard Huhnke, VP Automotive, Synopsys Inc.
Automotive electronics require exponential complexity along four dimensions:
1. Information synchronization by consolidating dozens of ECUs onto a centralized, high-performance computing board
2. Increased Intelligence by combining this newly centralized domain information
3. Increased connectivity for both wireless system updates and sensors for autonomous operations
4. All while Increasing Functional Safety and Reliability
These simultaneous requirements are causing intractable problems as the industry strives to create military-grade products at consumer prices.These changes must be implemented. But how? The good news is that this as a problem has been solved before in other industries.
The term “shift left”comes from the software industry and refers to finding bugs early in the design process rather than catching them through post-release testing.
Triple Shift Left encourages designers to find mistakes earlier in the design process where they are not only cheaper to fix, but it gives OEMs visibility into the earliest parts of the design through virtual prototypes
IBM found that fixing a software bug during the design phase is 100 times less expensive than fixing it after release. The cost stakes are even higher with semiconductors, requiring the use of logical and physical simulation models to identify design issues at the earliest phases of the design.
Synopsys has been helping system-on-a-chip (SoC) designers chip designers keep up with Moore’s Law through a strategy it calls Triple Shift Left.
Triple Shift Left
Triple Shift Left encourages designers to find mistakes earlier in the design process where they are not only cheaper to fix, but it gives OEMs visibility into the earliest parts of the design through virtual prototypes:
Shift-left I (Full System Verification)
Virtual ECUs allow hardware/ software co-design tasks to be completed up to 18 months before silicon manufacture. Virtual prototyping encourages collaboration across the automotive supply chain, enabling early software development and early chip architecture design to increase the quality of results (Q0R) and reduce time to production.
Shift Left II (IP and Design Implementation)
An IP portfolio of reusable blocks of logic, interface, and processor designs shaves staff-years of design effort from the development cycle. SoC implementation tools help increase functional reliability (e.g. LBIST, MBIST) and physical reliability (e.g. Triple Mode Redundancy, double-vias, power reduction).
Shift-left III (Software Security)
With over 35 percent of a 2025 automobile’s BOM consisting of software, OEMs must address software security. A software security partner offersboth products and services to verify libraries, identify security holes, and the perform of services like penetration testing.
Addressing the four-pronged problem (synchronization, intelligence, connectivity, and functional safety) will be difficult, requiring constant tradeoffs between cost and failure rate. But it must be addressed now. Those failing to do so will fall far enough behind where recovery is unlikely. Now more than ever, OEMs need to introduce the Triple Shift Left methodology into their entire supply chain.
Synopsys wants to be your partner, from silicon to autonomous vehicles. We propose a collaboration to produce the safest and most reliable automobiles. Such collaboration will give OEMs more visibility into the earliest parts of chip design, creating a framework for sharing cross-functional information between design, manufacturing, supply chain partners, and even marketing.