Guest Blogger

Richard York
Richard York
Richard York was appointed director of embedded processor products in December 2007. Richard is responsible for the team marketing ARM’s embedded and microcontroller CPU products including the Cortex-M and Cortex-R processor series. He is responsible for the embedded roadmap and surrounding … More »

The Growing Role of Analog-Digital On-Chip Integration in Saving Energy

 
August 20th, 2014 by Richard York

Mixed-signal silicon design, bringing the worlds of analog and digital technology onto a single die, has never been an easy task. Formerly, the analog and digital teams would work independently on their designs, leaving the place and route team with the thankless task of integrating everything onto a single chip. A microcontroller design, with all of its carefully thought out peripherals, would be routed leaving analog-sized holes for the oscillator, ADC and transceivers needed to complete the design.
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Turning thoughts to DAC during summer’s dog days

 
August 18th, 2014 by Anne Cirkel

Here in Portland summer is in full swing. Outdoor tables are full at the restaurants in my neighborhood and there are more people on the trails in Forest Park where I walk my two Miniature Schnauzers most mornings. And this time of year it’s more than feet that wander. Even as I hurry to keep up with the dogs, my mind is often rambling elsewhere, often to matters related to DAC. Some of these musings are making it into my efforts to blog my way to next year’s conference, weekly on the DAC site and monthly here on EDA Café.

Anne Cirkel's two Miniature Schnauzers, Diesel and Kismet.

My two Mini Schnauzers, Diesel and Kismet, who usually set the pace during my morning walks in Portland’s Forest Park.

I know at this point most people are thinking, DAC? That’s a lifetime away. But as general chair for DAC 52, I’m often brought up short during my morning strolls by realizations like this: We have just 10 months to plan this conference! Suffice it to say there is lots to do and, summer and eating and trekking aside, those of us on the executive committee haven’t been idle.

Last week, a few of us met in Louisville, Colorado to audit the 2014 conference and begin budget planning for DAC 52. Yes, it’s a somewhat tedious process to go through expense reports, vendor bills and registration data. However, we take this work seriously, understanding that we’re merely stewards of a conference that has been going on since the days of time-sharing on mainframes. Indeed, just as time-sharing has morphed into cloud computing and the Internet of Things, now among the hottest topics in technology, DAC has proven remarkably adept at staying relevant and even reinventing itself through the years. All of us on the executive committee want this to continue on our watch.

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Is EDA Customer Documentation Viewed as Important Anymore?

 
August 13th, 2014 by Palmer Pearson

There was a time when the “big three” gave the impression they deeply cared about what their customers saw in their documentation and how useful they shared critical product information. From my view, that is no longer the case. Maybe that is harsh but this is more than a simple impression. Whether providing book-based or topic-based documents, whether offering downloadable pdf hard copy, sharing online documentation with robust search capabilities, or delivering meaningful embedded tutorials, most EDA companies took an active role in ensuring what they produced would be innovative, encompass the latest trends and meet (and even exceed) customer expectations.

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I’m chairing DAC 52, and I want your help

 
July 16th, 2014 by Anne Cirkel

In the strange way that time passes, particularly in the world of tech, the 2014 Design Automation Conference is already feeling like ancient history. Was it really just last month that the Moscone Center exhibit hall was crammed with essentially all of major players in EDA? Whether or not you were there, you’re forgiven if you haven’t thought about DAC in the weeks since. In the last few weeks, the tech beat has continued to serve up big stories, including Amazon’s phone and Google’s Android everywhere announcements. It’s also the season of summer vacations. Oh yeah, and there was the small matter of a soccer tournament in Brazil.

In the years before I joined the DAC executive committee I often stopped thinking about DAC soon after leaving for the airport to head home to Portland. Not that it hasn’t always been a great show. It’s just that as is true for most attendees, the demands of my various day jobs always started to loom after several days away. This year and next, forgetting DAC is not an option for me because I’m the incoming general chair of next year’s conference. That is, in a very real way, DAC 52 is my job (or at least my second job), for the next 11 months.

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Statement from the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA)

 
July 10th, 2014 by Sanjay Gangal

Article source: IESA

BJP swept into power a few months ago in India. They have unveiled a new national budget that promises to create a framework to jump-start semiconductor and electronics development in India.

Dr. Kaustubh Nande, Country Marketing Head, ANSYS India commented:

This budget definitely addresses some long pending reforms particularly on tax and duty structure on electronic imports. However, today’s budget also extends investment deductions to semi-conductor wafer fabrication manufacturing units. This will boost electronics manufacturing and attract a greater share of R&D investments in the country. India needs to build intellectual capital in the long term and this budget perhaps is a good start. A positive and much needed boost to the electronics manufacturing and R&D sector.”

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The Move to Cloud-Enabled IP-Based Security Systems

 
July 2nd, 2014 by Anand Desai

Responding to customer demand and advances in technology, there is currently a strong trend among building security system manufacturers to evolve their products from traditional analog systems to IP-based products. Doing this allows them to leverage widespread innovation in IP-based communication systems through Cloud services. These new security systems are much more than just intruder alarms. They offer increased functionality, connectivity, and access options to take advantage of the capabilities of emerging technology. They provide a much richer set of features such as voice over IP (VoIP), call routing, rule-based response, and even allow access via mobile devices.

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Survivor’s Guide to Hardware Emulation at DAC

 
May 27th, 2014 by Lauro Rizzatti

It wasn’t all that long ago when hardware emulation providers heading to DAC worked overtime to get their booths filled with interested verification engineers with big challenges. Hardware emulation was still viewed as an esoteric and expensive luxury that only few could afford.

Fast forward to 2014. This year is prime time for hardware emulation, now a mandatory verification approach for all semiconductor designs. Left alone are a few analog-centric designs and a bunch of small digital designs. It is also become somewhat more affordable based on the price per gate.

I predict this year DAC will be much different than previous years as semiconductor companies, forced to accelerate time to market even as their chip designs get increasingly more complex, are looking to hardware emulation.

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Safety-Critical Automotive Applications: Raising the Bar on Verification?

 
May 22nd, 2014 by Dave Kelf

You may have noticed that one of the DAC themes this year is automotive electronics. If you happen to work on designs that have nothing to do with cars, you may have already disregarded this aspect of the show. Well, not so fast! Its worth a closer look.

We all know that auto electronics has gone through something of a renaissance over the last few years. Cars burst at the seams with processors, perform automated gyrations such as self-parking, and now one or two are taking the ultimate step of driving themselves about town. Who gave the Google Chauffeur car its driver’s license, anyway?

What makes this application area interesting is not necessarily the cool gadgets, but the additional constraints placed upon automotive electronics that are not a factor in other industries. I would like to focus on one, the verification aspect of automotive safety critical components.

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Survey: C/C++ Preferred Language among EEs

 
April 7th, 2014 by Dianne Kibbey

Everyone loves a good language war. I am, of course, talking about programming languages. Despite the myriad of programming languages available in the modern electronics industry today, C and C++, first developed in the 1970s and 1980s, are still viewed as the most important starting points for engineers.

element14, an online community of more than 220,000 design engineers and hobbyists, recently conducted a survey of preferred programming languages and more than 100 respondents submitted their answers. About 54% of those surveyed deemed C/C++ the most important, with Python as the second most popular choice garnering 18% of the vote.

The remaining languages scored as follows:

  • Assembly (9% of the vote)
  • Java (8% of the vote)
  • BASIC (4% of the vote)
  • HTML/CSS (2% of the vote)
  • PHP (1% of the vote)

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What future for the DATE conference?

 
April 7th, 2014 by Matthieu Wipliez

Two weeks ago my associate and myself attended the DATE conference to meet people and try to get new leads. This year, the conference took place in Dresden, Germany, which is at the heart of the “Silicon Saxony”, with no less than 40,000 jobs mostly in the semiconductor industry, so we were expecting a lot. If you’re not familiar with the conference, according to their website, “DATE combines the world’s favorite electronic systems design and test conference with an international exhibition for electronic design, automation and test, from system-level hardware and software implementation right down to integrated circuit design.” We had high expectations, and in the end we were quite disappointed. Granted, receptions (exhibition reception and DATE party) featured very good food and the party even included a visit of Volkswagen’s awesome luxury car plant. The staff was professional and nice, and we were lucky to have a neighbor who gave us an interesting perspective and helpful advice. What about the actual exhibition?

First, DATE is not cheap. Special start-up price is 2K€ ($2.7K). I just looked up DAC, it has a special “first exhibitor” package, for a mere $1.5K. DAC is about three times bigger, too. Concerning attendance, I was able to find numbers here and on the websites for the previous editions. There were 625 exhibition visitors in 2010, increased to 890 in 2011 (probably due to the presence of GlobalFoundries), and 800 in 2012 and 2013; the number of conference attendees has been around 1,300 and now is around 1,400. I couldn’t find any other statistics. By contrast, DAC compiles in-depth statistics about its visitors, including demographics and an event audit.

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