Gabe's EDA Update

Gabe Moretti
Gabe Moretti
In June 2012 Gabe Moretti will celebrate 44 years in EDA. Gabe has contributed to the industry first as a developer, then as a senior manager and now as an editor and industry observer. He is a Senior member of the IEEE and the recipient of the IEEE RonWaxman Meritorious Award. Gabe has worked … More »

The Approaching Discontinuity

 
December 3rd, 2012 by Gabe Moretti

The world of EDA is about to change. The subtle signs are there for all to see, and the coming reality is so different to be scary to some. Thus better not to talk about it. The changes will include how ICs are designed, developed, and verified. They will involve designers, tools developers, and manufacturers, and force an integration that the EDA industry has not experienced so far.

I have followed with great interest the various press releases from TSMC, Cadence, Mentor, and Synopsys describing the work, and the progress, toward finalizing a commercial grade 20 nm process. It is interesting that the vast majority of the news is about TSMC. There is a perplexing lack of news from other foundries about their work on the 20 nm process. Thus the question: are they already done or are they lagging behind?

I tend toward the second explanation. Accustomed to moving from one processing node to the next with regularity, I believe that most commercial foundries have been caught by surprise by the increased difficulty that the 20 nm process holds. it is not just a matter of developing a cell library, or to create and calibrate a new nanolithography process.

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Synopsys and Tektronix Offer New New FPGA-Based Prototyping Solutions

 
November 13th, 2012 by Gabe Moretti

Increasing design complexity is posing heighten verification complexity. Most of the consumer electronic products that are pushing vendors toward state of the art processes require real time responses. These applications cannot be debugged using software based tools. Thus the use of FPGAs for SoC verification has become the norm.

In the last two weeks both Synopsys and Tektronix have introduced new powerful verification solutions to aid engineers developing SoC devices.

Synopsys

Synopsys announced the availability of Synopsys’ HAPS®-70 Series FPGA-based prototyping systems, extending its HAPS product line to address the increasing size and complexity of system-on-chip (SoC) designs. Taking full advantage of the technology originally gained with the Synplicity acquisition, the new product offers superior mapping and debugging capabilities when combined with the Certify, Synplify and Identify software tools.

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A Difficult Book About A Very Difficult Thing

 
November 3rd, 2012 by Gabe Moretti

There is a new book out. It is not cheap at $119 a copy but I think the price is justified by the depth of its contents and the criticality of the subject. The book by Trent McConaghy, Kristopher Breen, Jeffrey Dyck and Amit Gupta has the imposing title of: “Variation-Aware Design of Custom Integrated Circuits: A Hands-on Field Guide” published by Springer.

My first reaction to its contents was to think that things cannot continue the way they are going. Complexity is killing productivity and financial returns. Of course one should not be surprised. Asking unnatural things from light is both difficult and expensive.

Reading the book and getting meaningful information from it requires some understanding of statistical analysis, so do not be scared off by the equations. After all our profession requires precision in communications, and there is nothing more precise than a mathematical expression. The goal is to teach engineers the technology of PVT analysis. Process variation (P), power supply voltage (V), and temperature (T) are fundamental components in determining whether at the end you have soup or hogwash. And if the result is the latter it will be a very expensive one.

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Phil Kaufman Award Ceremony Moves to DAC

 
October 17th, 2012 by Gabe Moretti

Although both CEDA and EDAC have tried to put a positive spin to this change, this is another sign of the significant transformation of the EDA industry. Moving the Phil Kaufman award to Sunday evening at DAC is like taking two aspirins and calling the doctor in the morning.

Since 1994 the Phil Kaufman award has been the most prestigious award in the EDA community outside of those recognitions presented by the IEEE. The award ceremony has been an opportunity for the industry to come together outside of the noisy and commercial confines of an industry conference and recognize the contributions of one of our peers.

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Zuken Innovation World

 
October 11th, 2012 by Gabe Moretti

Zuken Innovation World in Newport Beach is just days away, but there is still time to register!

October 15-17, 2012
Hyatt Regency Newport Beach

you can register using the following URL: http://www.regonline.com/Register/Checkin.aspx?EventID=1121613

The conference includes two full days of presentations from Zuken experts, partners and customers.

• North America Power Utility implementation of E³.series (Hydro-Québec)
• World-class Silicon & Development Tools for Intelligent Embedded Connected Devices (Intel Corporation)
• The Design and Influence of FPGAs on Today’s Electronics Products
• Designing Complex Machine Harnesses and Schematics (Agco)
• …and many more

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Synopsys vs. Mentor Is Cadence Paying Attention?

 
October 3rd, 2012 by Gabe Moretti

In a strange twist of reality I learned of the proposed acquisition of EVE by Synopsys because of a legal maneuver by Synopsys. It is not possible for a party to sue another party unless the first party has a material reason for the legal action. Thus the fact that Synopsys filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief against Mentor Graphics on the subject of the legal proceedings that Mentor initiated months ago against EVE is an indication that Synopsys now would be materially damaged by the legal battle in the emulation business.

I have written more than once that the emulation market is plagued with legal wrangling going back to the times of Intergraph, IKOS, and Quickturn. The problem is simple: emulation requires fundamental techniques that cannot be “paraphrased” and still achieve emulation. This fact is one of the clear indications that our patent law has stopped growing with the invention of the spokes of the wheel.

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Zuken World Is Fast Approaching

 
September 14th, 2012 by Gabe Moretti

Last year I attended Zuken World in San Antonio TX, but did not meet either of the Castro twins. Instead I attended the release of the CR-8000 PCB design environment and learned a lot about a company that at times seems a bit shy in its marketing approach in the US. Its style contrasts with the more aggressive approach of its competitors. I have often speculated that this is due to different cultures in Japan and in the US. Zuken, enjoys a significant place in the PCB market, competing with Mentor for leadership in the market. The CR-8000 is truly a system level design environment that approaches PCB architecture, design, and implementation in a holistic way.

This year Zuken will hold eight such events throughout the world: six in different European countries, one in Japan, and the one in the US. This one will take place at the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach October 15 -17. What separate Zuken World from other similar customer oriented events is the fact that some non – Zuken customers to attend the event. As it was explained to me, who but satisfied customers can best introduce prospects to the advantages of Zuken’s products? It makes sense, especially when one strips the ingrained paranoia typical of US companies who are always afraid that the competition will take advantage of “privileged” information. But customers’ events hardly contain privileged information. With social media, nothing said in confidence stay private, so I think that Zuken’s approach is a winning one.

The conference kicks off on Monday October 15 with an evening Welcome Reception – a great time to meet other attendees. Tuesday and Wednesday are full days of sessions, culminating with the Conference Dinner on Wednesday evening. As in past years, Zuken will offer training on the Thursday following the conference.

Mentor Had a Good Quarter, But Why Not a New Structure?

 
August 30th, 2012 by Gabe Moretti

Mentor Graphics reported its 2Q13 results and showed that its earnings improved due mostly to a decrease in expenses. Revenues were $240.8 million, up 13% with gains in systems and software, and a very strong showing from the Design to Silicon division, the home of Calibre. This is to be expected, given the major effort from large companies to move to the 20 nm process node. Still the results show that Calibre continues to be the leader in its market segment. Percentage revenue growth for this division is greater than that of Mentor as a whole, showing its critical importance to the company.

The rate of growth of the Integrated System Design division, the PCB division, was quite good but it has slowed from previous periods, Jay Vleeschhouwer is estimating a revenue growth of 9%. This division in the recent past had grown significantly through acquisitions, and now it has to be a profitable business as it stands. Its contribution to revenue is practically equal to that of the Scalable Verification division.

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Synopsys Defines A New Market Reality That Works

 
August 24th, 2012 by Gabe Moretti

Shortly after the announcement of the Springsoft proposed acquisition, Daniel Nenni published a very accurate and complete matrix showing the intersection of the products offered by all three companies. Although there was never an explicit statement in the article about the direct dependency between success and consolidating the matrix, it was implied that Synopsys had significant technical work ahead of itself in order to financially benefit from the acquisitions. I think that Synopsys principal motivation was not technological but market driven.

The EDA industry is a mature industry. It is fair to argue about the technical characteristics of various products and to compare products directly. But leading EDA companies all offer competitive products that get the job done, albeit in different manner and with varied localized results. Were this not so, the companies would no longer maintain their standing in the industry. I am sure that Synopsys sales organization will not be confused about selling more than one verification product. And, in the end, equilibrium will be reached as one of the products will establish itself. In fact, creatig a new product by merging technologies can be disruptive to sales since change, as we have seen more than once, is threatening to a trusted design flow.

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Can EDA Remain Relevant?

 
August 17th, 2012 by Gabe Moretti

Yesterday I received an email about a panel organized by Jonah McLeod of Kilopass titled: Is Lifecare the Next Killer App?. The panel was moderated by Rick Merritt, EE Times Editor at Large. Kristopher Ardis from Maxim Integrated Products, Fabrice Hoerner from QUALCOMM Inc., and Greg Fawcett from Palo Alto Research Center were the panelists. The email stated that their discussion examined the semiconductor opportunity to facilitate health, energy conservation, safety, and productivity that will improve “Lifecare” for a world population of over 7 billion inhabitants. It had a pointer to a video recording of the entire panel.

I had not seen the panel during the conference, so I viewed this morning. Given its contents I would not advise a high school or college graduate to consider EDA as a career. What the panelists discussed is relevant to Kilopass and its business, but not to traditional EDA vendors. Only toward the end, responding to a pointed question from Rick Merritt, did two of the panelists addressed how EDA may be relevant to what they were talking about. And the three fields of relevance were: security, low power, and system level integration.

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