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