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Mike Gianfagna on EDA360

Monday, June 7th, 2010

mike-gianfagna534c2x3x3003Mike Gianfagna, well known and long time EDA executive, has quite a bit to say about the EDA360 manifesto that’s electrified the EDA world. As vice president of marketing at Atrenta, Inc, Mike has been an astute, articulate participant in the EDA value discussion. I was able to grab a few minutes with Mike to ask how EDA360 helped define the 2010 and beyond definition of EDA value and how it might alter the industry’s direction.

ED: EDA360 has caused quite a buzz. Why?

MIKE: Simply put, it’s one of the first times a major EDA vendor has focused on growing the industry and not just winning the next deal.

ED: It’s curious that EDA people have embraced it so vigorously. After all, it’s not a “how to” but more of a “here’s the vision, the dream.”  What’s the impact of EDA360 on the EDA industry? The EDA user community? The EDA media?

MIKE: Let’s face it, the EDA industry has been stuck at roughly the same size for a long time. This lack of growth, in my opinion, has a lot to do with the predatory practices most suppliers pursue. That is, “I win the current budget and you lose.” Growing the business takes a broader view, and a good dose of vision to see beyond today’s budget and determine how EDA can serve new customers tomorrow. EDA360 articulates such a vision.

I’d like to think all this will have a positive impact on our industry overall. As for the EDA media, I am honestly not sure who that is anymore, so it’s hard to comment.

ED: This is a Cadence-generated document. How effective can it be if there’s a significant “other” camp?

MIKE: This point is what I find most interesting (and refreshing) about the concepts of EDA360. It’s not a Cadence document per se. It’s a blueprint of where EDA can go to find new customers and add new value. The piece articulates this in terms of current industry trends. It aims to exploit adjacencies in order to grow the market. And it clearly states that everybody needs to start thinking differently if it’s going to work.

ED: Rightfully, some people could view EDA360 as a Cadence effort to regain some of its industry momentum and influence that it has NOT had for years. Why should the rest of EDA buy into a company initiative?

MIKE: As I mentioned, I don’t see this as a company initiative. I see it as a call to action for our industry. We can all keep chasing the same budget, or find new customers and new budgets. A “dog food dish” image is spinning around in my head right now, but I’ll leave that discussion to the class historians among us.

ED: How will EDA360 affect the big 6: Atrenta, Cadence, Magma, Mentor, Springsoft and Synopsys?

MIKE: Wow, thanks for the flattering reference. It’s not every day that Atrenta gets mentioned in the same sentence with Cadence, Synopsys and Mentor. The reference is correct, however. Atrenta is now at a size, and a popularity level  that gives us the opportunity to make a real difference, if you believe the DeepChip readership.

How can we make a difference? First of all, a consistent focus on serving the new and emerging user base referenced in the EDA360 vision will help. That is, the software development community that requires advanced silicon to get its job done. The changes implied by EDA360 will take time – all design paradigm shifts do and they usually take longer than you like.

If a group of forward-looking companies can work together toward the vision, the time required to get there can be reduced. And that spells opportunity for everyone.

ED: How will EDA360 affect the medium sized EDA companies?

MIKE: I think the effect here will be similar, except many mid-size EDA companies may necessarily be slower to respond. Pursuing new markets and new customers takes discretionary resources, and many mid-size companies don’t have a lot of that.

ED: How will EDA360 affect the slew of small and startup EDA companies?

MIKE: For the current crop of startups, I don’t believe the effects will be that noticeable. Some will figure out how to re-invent themselves in new, emerging markets but most will continue on the path they are currently on.

The interesting part for venture-funded startups is what happens next. Will the venture community start writing checks for new business models that address the application software developer’s needs? If this happens, we’ll have another proof point that EDA360 is more than a nicely done White Paper.

– end –

Jim McCanny on solving electrical modeling challenges arising from IP integration

Monday, May 24th, 2010

jim Jim McCanny, co-founder and CEO of Altos Design Automation, Inc., is one of the most vocal voices on the use of characterization technology and what trends will be coming down the chip design pike.

I was able to catch Jim to talk about where EDA was heading and how characterization technology plays into those trends issues and chip design challenges.
……………
Ed: I was at an event, recently, where the premier investor in EDA startups cited Altos as one of his startups that did it right.   Altos also got mentioned in Paul McLellan’s book, EDAgraffiti, as a company that did it right.    What did Altos do that was “right?”

Jim: The things we did right? Well, I’d say that we focused on a real need – characterization run-time was too long to support the electrical analysis needs of 90nm and below. We used an experienced team and got a product to market quickly. And finally, we took only a relatively small amount of funding and relied mostly on organic growth and kept control of the company.

This last item, I think, is the one that has resonated with private investors. It made us somewhat immune to the big economic downturn in early 2009, as we had always been operating in a very fiscally responsible way.

Ed: Good point.

Jim: Finally while it was nice to be mentioned as a company who did it right, I don’t think we can be the “model” for every EDA startup. We did it right for the particular market we were going after and the current economy. Other target markets at another time might require a different approach.

Ed: I’m still fuzzy on what characterization is. Can you give me the 30 second elevator explanation?

Jim: I’d be glad to lessen some of the mystery, Ed. It’s elevating the behavior of a group of related analog transistors to a higher level of abstraction that is fundamental to digital design. For example a simple Nand gate typically has four unique analog transistors. Characterization enables each Nand gate to be modeled as a cell with equivalent timing, power and noise characteristics. That is equivalent to a 4X reduction in the circuit size to be analyzed.

Ed: So how big are we talking about?

Jim: For complex cells and blocks, there can be hundreds or even thousands of transistors and for memory instances there are often millions of transistors so the abstraction dramatically reduces the number of distinct elements that the digital design tools have to work with. Without characterization, there would be no synthesis, place and route or static timing analysis. There would be no IP reuse, basically no SoC design flow.

Ed: So characterization is obviously extremely significant to chip design. I recall that Altos started off back five or six years ago, touting the onset of statistical timing analysis (SSTA) and how characterization would be a required element in SSTA-based design flows. Adoption hasn’t really been overwhelming, yet it appears that characterization helps with static timing analysis driven chip design as well as SSTA driven chip design. What’s the difference in productivity and value that characterization brings to static timing analysis and SSTA based chip design?

Jim: SSTA is one of the areas that we saw as driving the need for faster characterization.

Ed: Now, can you remind me what SSTA is again?

Jim: Sure. SSTA is a methodology for predicting the impact of process variation of the performance of your design. It requires an accurate library that captures the effect of variation on timing (delay, slew, constraints etc.). Creating accurate models in a reasonable time frame is a big challenge. For example, the most accurate method is to use Monte-Carlo simulation but that would take thousands of times longer than “nominal” characterization (which itself can take days or even weeks). Clearly this “brute-force” approach wasn’t going to work if SSTA was to be feasible. We are able to create an SSTA library hundreds of times faster than using Monte Carlo, but still with great accuracy. Without this capability, SSTA would not get anywhere.

Ed: So is the push to lower manufacturing processes a factor in the increasing use of SSTA?

Jim: Yes! We are now starting to see serious usage at 28nm. You actually bring up a good point. There are several methods for predicting process variation such as “corner” analysis or “advanced on-chip-variation” (AOCV). Both of these solutions require either more characterization or longer characterization run-time; so our “ultra-fast” characterization technology is still very relevant whether SSTA is used or not.

Ed: As we get down to finer processes, what problems will chip/SoC designers encounter?

Jim: For most of today’s designs, the key challenge is optimizing both power and timing. Variation can play havoc with this process which is why SSTA is starting to get some traction. If you add too much margin then you can kill your power budget. However if you don’t account for variation you can have a dead part on your hands or suffer from low yield.

Ed: What else will crop up?

Jim: Another key challenge is what to do with all the available silicon real estate. The most obvious thing is to integrate more and more components on-chip. To get to market quickly this means using off the shelf IP. Making sure all the IP works together in a consistent way is tough. If you rely on pre-built models from the IP vendor you may suffer from over-guard banding or simply that the models are not up to date with the version of the process you are using. The best way around this is to either re-characterize everything to a single well defined set of characterization criteria or run an independent validation of your IP before using it.

Ed: IP quality is definitely a challenge. Harking back to that EDA investor, he seems to be saying that the valued technology will be in the front end, going forward. What’s your take and how does characterization play into that supposed trend?

Jim: There has always been value at both ends in EDA. Layout verification, layout editing, place & route, post-layout simulation, static timing analysis are all back-end solutions and major EDA markets. Sure integrating systems and software has huge potential but so does any solution that can make sure your chip will work in silicon or can improve its yield.

Ed: So what’s ahead for EDA? Is it a stagnant, mature industry, as so many people were saying a year and two years ago? Or maturing but vital in the semiconductor supply chain?

Jim: I don’t think it’s mature. There is simply too much churn in customer needs. Current tools are continuously getting enhanced and new tools are always coming on the market. Just look at the Spice simulation market. Three years ago, I think everyone would have said it’s stagnant. But look at all the new players and new capabilities that have come out in the last few years.

Ed: What do you see here?

Jim: There have been big improvements in performance, capacity, new models, new integrations into other solutions and innovative use of distributed processing.

Ed: So what is the technology development/adoption cycle for EDA?

Jim: I think EDA has cycles of about 8-10 years from the leading-edge adopters to trailing-edge users. There were a lot of new solutions around 2000 that have served the industry well for the past decade, but are now aging. Obviously, sometimes the EDA industry gets ahead of itself and has to go through a few lean years like we have just done. The danger is that when the industry needs new tools and solutions they won’t be there, as the past year and half has been pretty brutal and instead of investing in the future, many of the big EDA companies had to make cuts. Key areas such as analog automation, IP integration and verification and system and software design still need a lot of work.

Ed: Keeping in mind that there could be a reduction in new tools, what technologies do you see rising above the others in terms of user need, value added and just plain necessary for, say, 28nm designs that are full of complex IP blocks, many of which don’t integrate easily with one another?

Jim: Tools that truly enable IP integration and verification. By verification I don’t mean “will the IP work stand-alone” but “will it work as desired in the integrated system,” e.g. at the voltage levels being used, at the process corners being used, with the expected amount of process variation etc.

Ed: And what issues will we see rise to crisis level in power? Timing? How will they get fixed?

Jim: Power is really dynamic but timing is usually analyzed statically. How do you really model dynamic, temporal effects such as IR drop, crosstalk and substrate noise using static methods without gross “worst-casing”. In addition noise effects can cause very analog like waveforms that break the assumptions of today’s delay models that assume a linear or piecewise linear ramp. There is room for better timing models and smarter ways to statistically model the impact of dynamic effects like noise and IR drop and possibly hybrid static-dynamic analysis tools.

Ed: So what’s ahead for characterization technology? For Altos?

Jim: Our focus is in “enabling a world of IP.” By that, we mean that we want to make reuse of any form of IP highly productive, be it cells, complex I/Os, embedded memory or custom blocks. To do this we are working on bringing the same kind of automation and performance we have brought to complex cell characterization to IP block characterization. We also see characterization as more than model creation but also as a means to validate IP. A characterization tool tells you how the block will perform under a range of different conditions but doesn’t tell you if it performs as expected or how much margin you have to deal with the “unexpected”. We are on a path to change that.

Ed: Seems promising! I look forward to hearing more on this front down the road. Thanks, Jim, for taking time out of your busy day to share your viewpoints on these topics.

– end –

EDA Sizzle

Monday, March 1st, 2010

img_2419Steve Leibson in Leibson’s Law did a comprehensive and insightful job of covering the Hogan/McLellan entrepreneurial workshop in his blog on Wednesday.  Thank you, Steve!  And thank you, Jim and Paul, for enlightening us on how to start up an EDA company.

Jim and Paul made some very hard-hitting points in this valuable how-to workshop (at DVCon Tuesday night), one of which was emphasized by Leibson: “Sizzle is the highest leverage marketing point” said Hogan.

Afterward, a couple of attendees shared with us that “there is no sizzle in EDA!”  And “as we all know, many engineering driven startups (even some engineering driven mature companies) undervalue or don’t understand the importance of sizzle – a big mistake.”

What is sizzle? How do you define it?

Is there sizzle in EDA? Why or why not? Who has it, if there is sizzle in EDA?

Let us know what you think……

~Liz Massingill

So you want to start up an EDA company?

Friday, February 5th, 2010
Jim Hogan

Jim Hogan

Paul McLellan

Paul McLellan

Contrary to what we read last year,  EDA is not dying…


In fact, there are areas of high growth and lucrative start up opportunities in the decade ahead.

 

Who says so?  EDA and IP investor Jim Hogan and start up CEO Paul McLellan.

 

 

Take a look at this upcoming interactive workshop to be given by Jim and Paul at DVCon.

 

To register contact me at liz@leepr.com. (see details below) — Liz

 

 

 

 

So you want to start up an EDA company? Here’s how…

 

An interactive workshop with angel investor Jim Hogan and start up executive Paul McLellan

 

Dire predictions about the death, stagnation or maturation of EDA are premature, says noted angel investor Jim Hogan, a major shaper and influencer of the EDA industry. He and cohort Paul McLellan actually see lucrative opportunities in EDA. Startup founders just need to see end-product design trends and find problems to solve that’ll appear in the next 18-24 months.

 

Come to this workshop and hear how to get a startup going in EDA. Get Jim and Paul’s take on what areas in EDA and IP are potentially successful – and those areas that won’t yield a reasonable return on your efforts.

 

Talk to Jim and Paul about the process of starting up an EDA company – what the angel investment process is, what to expect, how to figure out your exit strategy.

 

When?

 

Tuesday

February 23, 2010

6:30 – 7:30 pm

@ DVCon (DVCon registration not required)

 

Where?

 

DoubleTree Hotel

Oak Ballroom

2050 Gateway Place

San Jose, CA 95110

1-408-453-4000  

 

RSVP to:

 

Liz Massingill

liz@leepr.com

 

 

 

RICHARD GOERING: one year later

Monday, February 1st, 2010

(As we all know, Richard Goering is a longtime EDA editor who went to work for Cadence in March 2009, where he writes the Industry Insights blog and works on various writing projects. I recently had a chance to talk with Richard about his year on the corporate side of editorial writing and the state of EDA editorial: where it’s going and what it’ll look like, if it continue to exist. It will, but…BTW,  something’s different about Richard’s photo…)

richard_goering1a1

ED: It’s been about a year since you moved from editorial over to Cadence. What differences, if any, do you see?

RICHARD: First, there’s a difference between blogging and news reporting. A blog is shorter and more personal, and is written in a different style. After many years of conventional news reporting, blogging has taken some adjustment.

Also, writing a corporate-sponsored blog is different from writing for an independent publication that covers news from all vendors. With the Cadence Industry Insights blog , I’m writing about most of the same issues I would have covered for EE Times, but where appropriate I’ll include a Cadence perspective or product mention. I don’t generally write about developments from other companies, unless some sort of Cadence partnership is involved. I should note, however, that since I’m focusing on issues rather than products, I don’t often write blogs about new Cadence products.

ED: So it’s been a change to come over to the dark side…not that there’s much of a “light side” any more, huh? What did you perceive as the dark side and what does it look like now, to you?

RICHARD: I don’t really think of it in terms of a “dark side” and a “light side.” Independent publishers are not doing charity work – they’re in business to make money like everyone else, even if they don’t succeed!

For me, working for a major EDA company has certainly been an educational experience. I now have a much better idea of how EDA companies function. Before EDA companies were mysterious monolithic entities that spit out press releases and products. Now I see the “people” side of the industry – lots of creative and diverse people who have many different ideas, and somehow come together with a consistent message.

ED: You’ve covered EDA for over 20 years. Clearly the publication world has changed, is collapsing as we speak. What lies ahead for EDA publications and coverage?

RICHARD: A lot less coverage, as we’ve seen already. Still, publications like EE Times, EDN, Chip Design Magazine and Electronic Design do have some EDA coverage. But a lot of the coverage going forward will come from blogs, forums, and various social media outlets.

ED: Where EE Times is concerned, it seems that there has to be some connection with a chip design issue for there to be EDA coverage. Otherwise, it goes to EDA Design Line. I think that’s fine, but it sure says something about how that once-mighty publication has changed, huh? Well, don’t let me put words into your mouth. How is the change in EE Times emblematic of what’s happened to EDA editorial?

RICHARD: It’s not just EDA editorial – EE Times has a lot less editorial, period. There is still some EDA reporting once in a while, but there seems to be more of a semiconductor focus. That probably makes sense given the lack of EDA advertising and the greatly-reduced editorial resources.

ED: What role will the new era bloggers (indie, corporate, editorial, PR) play? How will those roles evolve?

RICHARD: Blogging provides a new information channel that’s hopefully written in an engaging style, by someone with expertise in a given area. Given that some EDA bloggers are chip designers or consultants, it can be a “peer to peer” communications channel. It can also be a two-way channel if a conversation develops.

Independent bloggers, I suppose, are those who are not paid by a company to blog, although many do have employers. While every blogger has her or his own biases and points of view – a point of view, after all, is what blogging is all about – independent bloggers have the potential to be on neutral ground with respect to EDA vendors.

Corporate bloggers will reflect the positioning of their companies, but they can also provide a good deal of useful, in-depth information that you won’t find elsewhere. With Industry Insights, I have been able to write some “inside look” kinds of blogs that it would have been difficult to write from the outside. For example, I wrote a series of blogs about what it takes to port EDA software to multicore platforms, drawing upon Cadence’s experiences in this area.

Due to the lack of editors, there are very few EDA editorial blogs. Those that exist are picking up some of the coverage that’s missing from the electronics trade press. An example is Ron Wilson’s Practical Chip Design. I haven’t seen much in the way of blogs from PR people, although yours is an exception.

ED: OK, since you bring it up, what role do EDA PR bloggers have in EDA blogging?

RICHARD: I think PR bloggers would do best to focus on issues like social media, PR, and advertising, as opposed to technology. With all the changes in the media, there’s plenty to write about.

ED: But blogging seems more opinionated than EDA editorial, which you covered for so long and so rigorously. I mean, clients were intimidated by the perceived “wrath of Goering” and would oftentimes minimize their hype when being interviewed by you. Thus, we got a comprehensive and objective overview of the technology area from you, even when you covered new products. Will we see objective reporting disappear?

RICHARD: No. As I noted, there is still some EDA reporting in the traditional media, and some bloggers do objective evaluations of major new products and announcements. But the days when every EDA announcement would receive coverage are long gone.

ED: So what role will traditional press play?

RICHARD: I think there will be some continuing coverage of really big announcements or developments. But there will be a lot less product coverage and new company coverage than there used to be. Unfortunately, there are a lot of press release rewrites in the press these days. That doesn’t provide much useful information for the readers.

ED: How possible is it that an EDA press disappear? Why?

RICHARD: Very simple – lack of advertising. It’s part of the meltdown we’re seeing across the publishing world. Also, EDA stories don’t get tens of thousands of readers. There’s a very small, specialized audience, although they have big wallets.

ED: What’s there to keep EDA honest if there’s no longer an “industry press?”

RICHARD: There is an industry press – there’s just less of it. There are also a growing number of bloggers watching EDA developments. But more and more it will be up to the users to help keep EDA vendors on the right track. With the ability to start a blog or comment on blogs, join on-line forums, speak at user group conferences, and participate in Twitter groups like #EDA, EDA users now have a voice – and they will hopefully use it for the betterment of the industry.

ED: What’s your sense of pay for play in editorial? Good, bad or necessary?

RICHARD: I’m not going to say it’s bad, but if a company pays to have an article written, I think that should be made clear to the reader.

ED: Well, EDA’s benefited from your historic participation in the industry. Witness your DAC award a few years back. It’s been, what, over 20 years, starting at Computer Design? I’m not sure anyone can see an EDA industry without Richard Goering in place. Thanks for taking the time to catch up.

RICHARD: And thank you for the opportunity! After interviewing your clients for years, it’s an interesting turn of events to have you interview me.

– end –

Yet another 2010 EDA Trends write up?

Monday, January 18th, 2010

2009 was a rough year for an already stagnant EDA world. Looking to 2010, Liz Massingill and I asked industry colleagues, opinion makers and friends what each of them saw as the BIG trend for 2010.

Here’s what they said.

Karen Bartleson, Blogger, The Standards Game, Synopsys
http://synopsysoc.org/thestandardsgame/

The big trend in EDA for 2010 will be the acceptance of social media as an additional means for communicating with customers, partners, and competitors.

Now that blogging is settling in as a viable source of information from media people, company experts, and independent publishers, more new media tools will come into play. Not all tools are right for everyone or every situation, so the EDA industry will explore the options and experiment with a variety of community-development activities.

LinkedIn and Facebook will offer special interest groups a place to congregate. Twitter will be tested by more people – who today are curious or skeptical – as a means of immediate, brief interaction. EDA suppliers will offer new communication channels and those that are truly value-add will thrive.

The EDA world won’t change overnight, but the trends in social media will be noticeable.

Graham Bell, Director of Sales and Marketing, EDACafe
http://www10.edacafe.com/blogs/grahambell/

The BIG trend will be that designers need ALL of the technology that EDA companies have been working on and introduced in the last 18 months.

There is a lot of design work being done at 45nm and all the established tools are running at the edge of their capabilities.

New generations of parasitic extraction, static and statistical timing analysis, and automated property verification are just some of the important technologies that will be needed by design teams.

Mike Gianfagna, Vice President, Marketing, Atrenta, Inc.
http://www.atrenta.com

In 2010, we’ll see an accelerated move to doing more design at higher levels of abstraction.

Chip complexity and the skyrocketing cost of physical design, along with the advent of 3D stacks is forcing this. Designers just won’t be able to iterate in the back end in 2010 and beyond. It’ll take too long and cost too much.

Power management, design verification, design for test and timing closure will all be “close to done” before handoff to synthesis and place & route. The traditional backend flow of IC design will become a more predictable, routine process, which will accelerate its trend toward commoditization and consolidation.

This move to higher levels of abstraction will also have implications for IP selection and chip assembly. This will compel a new genre of tools to emerge. Standards like IP-XACT will help this process to take hold. Perhaps this is what ESL will become.

Richard Goering, longtime EDA editor and currently manager of the Cadence Industry Insights blog
http://www.cadence.com/Community/blogs/ii

I think the Big EDA Trend for 2010 will be SoC integration.

There will be a renewed focus on the challenges of integrating existing IP, providing breakthrough technology for design teams to quickly and reliably
assemble complex SoCs from integration-ready IP blocks, and then run
full-chip verification including both analog and digital components.

ESL is part of this story because there’s a need to move to
transaction-level IP creation, verification and integration. Hardware/ software integration and verification and will also become part of
the drive towards SoC integration.

Harry Gries, the ASIC Guy, EDA blogger
http://theasicguy.com/

As for the EDA trend in 2010, I think that EDA companies, when they recover, will choose not to hire more sales and marketing people but will invest more in other marketing tools on the Web or using social networking strategies.

A good example is a company like Xuropa, which is actually a client of mine, under full disclosure. They help EDA companies put their tools on the Web in order to help them reduce their costs for demos, product evaluations, etc.

I think that will see a lot of interest in the upcoming year as companies look for ways to do “more with less”. User group events may also move online, just like this year’s CDNLive was a virtual event rather than a real live event. Xilinx and Avnet sponsored an X-Fest this year that was also an online event. Things are moving online fast and economics will drive that.

Grant Martin, EDA blogger
http://www.chipdesignmag.com/martins/

In 2010, we’ll see the steady progress towards usable ESL tool and methodology adoption by design groups.

The areas of greatest real ESL use are the high level synthesis of data crunching blocks used in various DSP-type applications (signal and media processing), the increasing adoption of processor/SW-centric design methods, and the increased creation and use of virtual prototype models.

(Brian Bailey and I have a new book from Springer coming out in the new year on practical ESL use methods: “ESL Models and their Application: Electronic System Level Design and Verification in Practice”. See for a summary. )

Dan Nenni, EDA blogger
http://danielnenni.com/

For EDA, 2010 will be the year of the foundry. Foundries will drive new EDA flows and business models.

The TSMC Open Initiative Platform
is but the tip of the iceberg. If EDA and IP companies do NOT join forces with the foundries and take arms against the sea of semiconductor troubles – they will continue to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous economic misfortune.

Coby Zelnik, CEO, Sagantec North America, Inc.
http://www.sagantec.com

In 2010, we will see more designs taping out in 40nm.

In an effort to minimize risk, cost and time to market, design reuse will be
maximized; many of them will be migrations of existing 90nm and 65nm products or derivative products with minor updates and tweaks.

– end –

Harry’s Job as a blogger: Harry the ASIC Guy talks about his EDA role

Monday, January 11th, 2010

(Liz Massingill concludes her conversation with Harry “the ASIC Guy” Gries)

hgries1

lizonedsblog

Liz: What do you feel that your job is as a blogger?

Harry: By “job”, do you mean “responsibility”?

Liz: Responsibility or purpose.

Harry: I wanted to make a distinction there because a lot of people view bloggers like the next generation of journalists. That’s not me. I don’t feel I have a responsibility to cover any one issue or to be non-biased.

Liz: Well, no, you aren’t a reporter, but I would call you a commentator or columnist. Would you agree?

Harry: I suppose, if a journalist is supposed to be totally objective and a commentator is allowed to have an opinion, then I’m more of a commentator. There’s been a lot written lately about bloggers vs. journalists and I’d rather stay out of all that argument. We’re different, period.

Liz: So what is your responsibility or purpose or duty?

Harry: I write the blog because I want to write and it gives me a unique connection to my audience. I can have this conversation, debate, commiserate, etc that I could not do otherwise.

Liz: I get that.

Harry: Ron Wilson had an interesting insight at DAC.

Liz: What was Ron’s insight?

Harry: He said that in the past, conferences were the way that engineers socialized and networked. Also, when EE Times or EDN came out, they’d stand around the coffee machine and talk about it. Now, this kind of interaction is happening online. As a blogger, I’m kind of like the instigator for those conversations. In fact, some of my best blogs were where I put out some idea, and the most interesting insights came from the comments.

Liz: Kudos to you that you were able to elicit so many comments. That isn’t too far off from what we have tried to do with our blogfests and what we were trying to do with Jim Hogan’s presentation at ICCAD. We were trying to initiate a discussion. And this brings me to…..What do you want or not want from PR folks?

Harry: I’ll tell you about someone in PR who I think does a good job working with bloggers.

Liz: I’m all ears…

Harry: First off, she follows my blog and follows me on Twitter, so she has an idea of what I write about and what I am interested in.

Second, if there is some news or item she thinks I’d be interested in, she will email me or tweet me, but not a SPAM press release. She’ll say something like “I know you are interested in XYZ. We have an upcoming announcement regarding that, would you be interested in learning more.”

Last, if I am interested, she’ll help me to know more about it, either through material or talking to someone at the company.

Liz: That makes sense. I think it’s pretty clear that bloggers do not want press releases.

Harry: It’s not that I don’t want press releases; it’s that they are 90% out of my area of interest. Hold on, lemme just take a quick look at my Inbox:….Ok, so the last 10 items I got either from PR people or thru EDA company mailing lists, are not my area of interest. That’s why SPAMming press releases doesn’t work.

Liz: So what are your favorite topics in EDA?

Harry: I look for something that will be disruptive because that interests me the most and generates the most interest. When the OVM/VMM battle was going on, that was a hot topic. When Oasys Design Systems claimed to have a Synopsys-killer synthesis tool, then that was interesting.

Harry: Dog is barking at the UPS guy :)

Liz: I’m familiar with that scenario….esp. lately. ;-) So let’s talk about something controversial….

Harry: uh oh

Liz: Jim Hogan insinuated during his ICCAD presentation that EDA is complacent. In your opinion, how complacent is EDA?

Harry: I probably would not choose that word to describe EDA. I’d probably pick the word ‘angst” to describe EDA. In the last year we had a DVCon panel called “EDA: Dead or Alive”, we’ve had several companies go under or get bought, and we’ve had a lot of talk about new business models and where EDA provides value. I think EDA is struggling, like it always has, to find out where it fits in the design chain and the supply chain. So there is a lot of angst in that way.

Liz: What do you think the trend will be for the next 10 years?

Harry: 10 years is a long time, especially the way that technology is accelerating. I think that over such a long time, you need to look at the bigger trends going on overall, not just in EDA, and then see how EDA will need to respond. On the economic side, I think the entire IT and software world will change significantly. Cloud computing is a big buzz now but it is for real and companies are going to continually want to rent IT infrastructure rather than own it.

Liz: EDA is driven by the Intels and AMDs of the world.

Harry: Yes, and even Intel and AMD are embracing cloud computing even though they may stand to lose out in the short run. The economics are such that it is more advantageous to build a large data center somewhere that power and cooling are cheap rather than everyone have their own data centers. Companies, like Amazon, rent computing time for 10 cents per CPU hour; and that allows companies to make their IT costs into a running expense rather than a capital expenditure. I think that EDA will need to embrace cloud computing and eventually a Software-as-a-Service model.

I think the technology trend will be that custom ICs will be too expensive to design. In 10 years you’ll have standard off-the-shelf ICs that have hundreds of processors and 10s of millions of gates of reprogrammable logic, like an FPGA on steroids. Most products will be designed with these, so today’s chip design will become tomorrow’s software development.

– end –

Harry the ASIC Guy on what blogging about EDA has done for him

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

(Liz Massingill was fortunate enough to snag Harry Gries … the ASIC Guy for an interview on a rainy Friday morning. Here’s what they had to say.)

Liz: Harry, why do you blog?

Harry: There’s really 2 parts to that … why did I start and why do I keep doing it. I was having lunch with a good friend a few years ago, who is also a blogger, and I was sharing my opinions about some subject when he said “you should have a blog.”

I always liked to write and always had an opinion, so I said, “what the heck.” It was right before SNUG (Synopsys Users Group) so I also thought it would be a good way to do some personal marketing since I’m an independent consultant. So I got the blog up just in time for SNUG.

Liz: Was your first blog successful?

Harry: When I first started writing the blog, I told a few friends and colleagues about it and they subscribed and commented. Then, one day, I got a comment from someone I did not know at all. That was the first time I knew that people were reading this other than my friends.

Liz: That first comment must have gotten the adrenaline going. So why do you continue to blog?

Harry: As for why I keep going, I think I actually get a lot out of writing it. It keeps me plugged into what is going on in the industry. Also, I’ve met people through the blog that I never would have had a chance to know.
One example: There was a press release related to something one of the big 3 EDA companies was doing for training for their consultants. I wanted to write something about it on my blog so I emailed the VP of Consulting, who I did not know, and he answered back and did the interview. I never would have been able to do that without the blog.

Also, I’ve found that the people who read my blog are pretty influential, so it’s good to know them as well.

Liz: It never ceases to amaze me how small the internet has made our world. Who is your audience?

Harry: That’s a good question. With RSS, you never really know exactly who is reading. However, from the comments I get, from the people that follow me on Twitter, and from the analytics, I can tell that there are a lot of people in EDA companies, especially sales and marketing types.

Liz: Do you have Google analytics to find out how many hits you get?

Harry: Analytics helps, but not in the way you might think. I’m more interested in learning how people find my blog rather than who they are. I can tell what keywords they might have used in Google or what links they came from and that helps me to understand what they are looking for as valuable content.

Liz: Can you give me an example?

Harry: Well, lemme pull up my analytics right now: I just did a quick scan and noticed that “verification” and “FPGA” were used as search terms several times to find me. So I might write my next blog post on “FPGA verification.”

Liz: Then it is very useful.

(End of Part One.)

Dan Nenni on Bloggng in EDA (part 2)

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

(Liz Massingill concludes her conversation with blogger Dan Nenni.)

Liz: I know that bloggers don’t want press releases. They want to talk about trends.

Dan: Every blogger has an agenda. I blog about experiences, companies, and technologies that I know, positive and negative trends that I see. I do blogs on TSMC and the other foundries all the time. My agenda there is to let people know that if you are part of the semiconductor design enablement supply chain you need to be very close to the foundries. When bloggers are really product specific, like some corporate bloggers are, it just looks like something from a company–a public notice. But if they talk about market trends and put their personality and their experiences into it, then it becomes interesting.

Liz: How long will it take the industry to be more social media savvy?

Dan: I don’t know if it will be in my professional lifetime or not? But if you look at it, we’re raising the Social Media Generation— Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

I have 4 kids, and all of them are really into it. They’re prolific texters–they communicate with their thumbs. When those people get jobs and become our target market you’re going to have to market to them, right?

Unfortunately, most people our age aren’t that savvy. I picked it up early because I have kids. I’m involved with them and their social media habits. I have 6 cell phones and I didn’t have texting because my kids were starting to drive. My Verizon bill was thousands of minutes. They begged me for texting so I got the unlimited plan. My calling minutes went from thousands to a few hundred. The thing is that they don’t communicate by phone, that’s just not the way their generation wants to communicate, period. I turned texting off on my phone to eliminate yet another distraction.

My attitude was that if you want to talk to me, call or email me. And they don’t (laughs). So those are the people we are bringing up now, the thumb generation, and this is happening in America, China, Iran, everywhere.

If you don’t GET social media, you are going to be at a significant disadvantage in business and life in general. I think we’re coming close on the business side. Companies should start now or they won’t be competitive. That’s why I’m an evangelist for social media because it’s THE most cost effective demand creation vehicle.

In our business, the average shelf life of a marketing message is like a loaf of bread, things/specs change so quickly. You need to refresh your message in a cost effective manner on a monthly basis; and that is Social Media.

Liz: There’s always press releases (laughs)

Dan: People don’t care. No offense but traditional PR does not work the way it used to.

Liz: What about print media vs. online media? Aren’t there many people who would rather read a hard copy than have to remember to go read something online?

Dan: I don’t read the newspaper anymore because by the time I get it, it’s old news, so I use Google Reader. I’m on my laptop anyway doing email, watching videos, etc… How much time do people spend on their computers? 50% of your day? Some people even eat in front of their computers.

(Liz raises hand sheepishly.)

Dan: So where are you going to get your news? In the newspaper, the only thing I read is the comics, the Jumble, Dear Abby, Safeway ads (I do the shopping). Nothing else, and I hate getting news print ink all over the place. Seriously, smudge proof ink, how hard is that?

Liz: What is it you want or don’t want from PR people?

Dan: I want PR people to embrace social media and make it their own, simple as that. Bloggers are easy to work with. Bloggers want blog views, views are empowering and feed our massive egos. You have no idea what a burden it is to support a massive ego, so anything you can do to help get blog views is greatly appreciated. Invite us to functions, buy us lunch, integrate Social Media into your business model, just don’t send us press releases!

Liz: Jim Hogan threw down this gauntlet in his recent presentation at ICCAD….that EDA is complacent. We’ve talked a bit today about how there doesn’t seem to be much of an interest in EDA but a lot of interest in foundries. How do you think that relates? Do you agree with Jim’s assertion?

Dan: Yes EDA is complacent, I agree with Jim. My audience is definitely interested in the foundries, also semiconductor IP and design services. So why not EDA? One theory is that EDA does not share the risks and rewards of semiconductor design, so EDA is not invested in/with the customer. EDA software is licensed upfront and gets paid whether the customer is successful or not.

Foundries, IP companies, and design services are more success oriented and get paid on volume silicon shipments. Based on that, customers view EDA companies differently, especially when licenses expire and their design has not taped-out yet!

Liz: How do FPGAs figure into the picture?

Dan: FPGAs are a big factor in the decline of EDA, and everybody knows it. I think that is a relevant point if you are talking about the state of EDA. FPGA design starts are going up and ASIC/EDA design starts are going down. FPGA’s are also success based with volume silicon shipments being the big payday for all, sound familiar? ;-)

Liz: What do you think the trend for EDA will be for the next 10 years?

Dan: EDA is going to be interesting the next few years, and I am happy to be a part of it. I would like to send a strong but positive message: Change is coming. If EDA does not embrace this change, it’s going to be a very costly experience. Success based business models are key, working closely with the foundries is key, being an accretive member of the semiconductor design enablement community is the cure for EDA complacency. Believe it.

– end –

Dan Nenni on Blogging in EDA

Friday, November 20th, 2009

(EDA blogger Dan Nenni talks with Liz Massingill about how he approaches his blogging. First of two parts.)

Liz: Welcome, Dan. Thanks for coming down to chat with me today. I’d like to start by asking….Why do you blog?

Dan: I started my Social Media experience on LinkedIn a few years ago and blogging was the natural next step. I also use Twitter. Right now the three are integrated, with LinkedIn and Twitter being the delivery systems for my blog. Since I own my blog domain (http://danielnenni.com/) I get to see search terms, views, what is popular and what is not, where people come from and what links they click on. If they come from LinkedIn I get to see what they have done professionally. You are a LinkedIn fan I believe?

Liz: Yes.

Dan: A LinkedIn profile is a great source of information and hopefully it is up to date since it is transparent and seen by all. I’m also a member of LinkedIn groups for semiconductor design enablement. Once you join a group you can profile other members and see who your audience really is.

Liz: What topics interest your readers most and least?

Dan: Semiconductor topics are interesting, EDA topics are not. Financial/Economic topics are interesting, Social Media is not. Semiconductor yield is a VERY interesting topic, my blogs on TSMC 40nm yield get lots of views. Blogs on Global foundries are also popular, my TSMC vs Global Foundries is the most viewed blog to date. My blog on ICCAD was not so popular and got very few clicks. The most popular EDA blog I have done is EDA is DEAD, probably because of the word “dead.” Dead things get clicks.

What I have learned blogging directly correlates to my professional experience: Foundries are the center of the semiconductor universe and will continue to gain strength in driving EDA, IP, and Design Services. The best example is the TSMC Open Innovation Platform forum where TSMC clearly spelled out the future of EDA.

Liz: Who is your audience?

Dan: Friends and family mostly! ☺ I get the majority of my views from fabless semiconductor companies around the world, EDA and IP people, TSMC and the other foundries. More than half of my blog views come through LinkedIn and the people I am connected to. There are 50M+ people on LinkedIn and my connections link me to “5,422,800+ professionals”.

Liz: Let’s talk about “Social Media.”

Dan: The big EDA companies are already into Social Media, Synopsys, Cadence, and Mentor all have corporate bloggers and thousands of employees on LinkedIn. Blogs are now featured on the front of all three corporate websites. Synopsys had a nice social media program at the last Design Automation Conference. I blogged about it in “Twitter #SNPS #TSMC #46DAC” I’ve pushed Social Media to quite a few small and medium sized companies in the semiconductor design enablement business, with little success however. ☹

Liz: Well, it’s like Twitter. Not everybody is ready for it. It’s new, and takes a person out of her comfort zone.

Dan: People are scared because of the transparency, the same thing with blogging, fear-uncertainty-doubt. It concerned me as well but I think the rewards by far outweigh the risk. Blogging has many side benefits: My IQ has probably doubled as has my ego. If I ever take another VP of Sales and Marketing job I would only hire sales people with a LinkedIn profile and 500+ connections. My product marketing people would be required to blog and participate in LinkedIn groups. It keeps them close to customers and the market segment they serve.

(End of Part One.)

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