By Adam Wilson, Internal Sales Manager, FirstEDA

I do very much enjoy my
job and I swear I’m not just sat here dreaming of holidays all the time! I just thought I’d clear that up first, because much like my last blog post (ramble?), I am again starting on the subject of holidays… This time it’s because I’ve just returned to the office after a lovely week off with my family, down on the Devonshire coast in the UK. The weather was glorious, we spent every day on a beach exploring rockpools, sunbathing, bodyboarding (attempting) and eating ice creams. Despite the current coronavirus pandemic, everywhere was bustling, campsites and holiday parks were full and unless you were queuing at the local supermarket, everything felt relatively normal. 


We were sensible and did our best to maintain social distancing. To make this a little easier for ourselves, we decided to play it safe and not visit any pubs or restaurants during our week. From what we could see, the local businesses were all doing their best to comply with the guidelines. But unfortunately, not every holiday maker was taking it seriously and with everywhere being so busy, we felt it better to be safe, rather than sorry. Unfortunately, this meant that I was not relieved from duty as the ‘family cook’, but we also faced another problem… no internet for a week! You see, the area is a 4G black-spot, and with our family’s retreat sitting empty most of the year round, it makes little sense for anyone to fork out for a wifi connection. Usually, I’d be a wifi vampire; Lurking in the shadows, waiting for the opportunity to suck data from unsuspecting pubs, restaurants, and shopping centres! But not on this occasion. My devices would have to go hungry. 


So, for the first time in a long time, we were completely offline for most of our holiday. Although it was nice to have a social media cleanse and to not even be able to check my emails if I wanted to, it also meant we had to explain to a five-year-old why she couldn’t play certain games on her tablet, or why she couldn’t watch ‘Barbie: Life in the Dream House’ on Netflix This really got me thinking about quite how reliant we all are these days on connectivity and how younger generations have never really experienced a time without all this connectivity. The number of connected devices we now own is crazy and it is set to get much, much higher. At FPGA-forum in Trondheim a couple of years ago, a keynote speaker from Intel estimated that in 10 years’ time, the average household will have 125 connected devices at any one time! With advances in IoT meaning you can now run a bath from an app on your phone, this is not difficult to believe. 


As connected tech advances and the number of devices and their applications increase, the associated challenges of designing and verifying them increase also, particularly in relation to safety and security. Imagine if someone hacked into your bath and increased the temperature beyond your preferred 42.6°c? You could be left very “red cheeked”, and I’m not talking about your face… Burning someone’s bum is likely not on your list of concerns, but when designing for an application with more pertinent safety or security implications (automotive for example), a bug or malicious software making its way in could have very severe consequences indeed. To provide the all-important connectivity securely therefore, you need to be more diligent than ever during design and verification, to ensure not just correct functionality, but also safety and security. Better to be safe than sorry! 


Luckily, the EDA industry is evolving alongside these challengesOneSpin are the only EDA company solely focused providing a complete and exhaustive set of IC integrity verification solutions based on formal technology. Through their leading-edge technology, including FPGA Equivalence checking, GapFreeVerificationPortableCoverage, High-Level Verification and FMEDA (failure modes, effects, and diagnostic analysis), they can help ensure hardware assurance, safety, trust and security. 


Who knows, with 5G on it’s way, promising better connectivity than ever and with Mr Musk’s toys in low orbit around the Earth, one day we might be better connected at our little flat in Devon. Although after my blissful week of being offline, I’m not sure we’ll be the better for it. At least I’ll be able to rest easy, knowing that my car will get me there safely and all my connected devices are all secure.