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Lauro Rizzatti
Lauro Rizzatti
Lauro Rizzatti is a verification consultant. He was formerly general manager of EVE-USA and its vice president of marketing before Synopsys’ acquisition of EVE. Previously, he held positions in management, product marketing, technical marketing, and engineering. He can be reached at … More »

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.

Read the rest of Survivor’s Guide to Hardware Emulation at DAC

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.

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

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)

Read the rest of Survey: C/C++ Preferred Language among EEs

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.

Read the rest of What future for the DATE conference?

EDACafe Call for Bloggers – Extend Your Reach and Exposure!

 
March 24th, 2014 by Sanjay Gangal

Do you have something to share with the EDA community, such as opinions, thought-provoking topics, or commentary? EDACafe.com, the leading electronic design industry web portal is seeking the following types of blogging contributor categories:

  • Industry Expert/Consultant Blog
    • Provide thought leadership, industry expertise
    • Benefit by promoting yourself and your expertise
    • No cost involved if the article is not promotional in nature
  • Guest Blog
    • Tied to an existing blog on EDACafe
    • Write one blog post or post periodically
    • No cost involved if the article is not promotional in nature
  • Custom Blog
    • Will have a unique name and identity
    • Produce at least one blog post per month
    • No cost involved if the articles are not promotional in nature
  • Custom Corporate Blog
    • Industry-leading companies, such as software and hardware vendors, service bureaus, etc.
    • Multiple logins for publishing blog entries from multiple authors
    • Cost is $700/month or $6,000/year.

EDACafe has 75,000 unique visitors per month; as well as 30,000 subscribers to our daily newsletter and EDA Weekly. Translation: People like to spend time at EDACafe.

Read the rest of EDACafe Call for Bloggers – Extend Your Reach and Exposure!

The CAD Team – Unsung heroes in a successful tapeout

 
March 14th, 2014 by Amit Varde

For most of my career, I worked as a CAD and design flow engineer. In the fall of 2012, I moved to a different role, as an applications and support manager at ClioSoft Inc. In my opinion, this was a very good opportunity for me to work with other CAD engineers and teams. 

Having worked with different CAD teams in my career, I have often felt that the CAD engineers do not get the credit that they richly deserve for the effort they put in. Most CAD engineers did not plan on being CAD engineers when they graduated from college. What moved them in the direction of CAD is the “discovery” that they had an excellent understanding of UNIX, design methodology and programming and also had good communication skills.

Read the rest of The CAD Team – Unsung heroes in a successful tapeout

A young entrepreneur’s take on EDA

 
February 20th, 2014 by Matthieu Wipliez

You’ve all read many times the opinions of EDA veterans concerning this industry, so for a change I’ll humor you with my opinion as a young entrepreneur and EDA company founder. This post originally appeared on my company’s official blog (see original post). What prompted me to write this piece is Gabe’s article on Starting A New EDA Company.

In his post, Gabe is hoping for “disruption” and “a new business model”, yet he notes the “total lack of new ideas from younger people”. Hmm. Well I’m young, and I certainly do think that younger people have lots of ideas, and that they’re actually having a huge success, it’s just that it’s happening in other industries, like, for instance, the software industry. I’m talking about the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and whatnot. Now why is that? Why are young people having success in software but not so much in semiconductor? Could it be that there is something specific about the semiconductor industry? After all, until its recent acquisition by Cadence, Forte was still called a start-up. After 16 years (it was founded in 1998). And VCs seem to agree that the money is elsewhere. So what is it?

It turns out that to create a “new successful EDA company”, you should “understand thoroughly the application industry [your company] serves”. Ok, but how is it possible for young people to do that exactly? The semiconductor industry today is mainly about designing SoCs, and that requires many different skills and companies and people working together. It takes years to become proficient in designing quality hardware with RTL, and this is only the first step to making a chip! Then you need to learn about verification (and SystemC, and SystemVerilog, and UVM, and equivalence checking, and I don’t know what else, after all I’m not a verification engineer!), and back-end, and DFT, etc. How are you supposed to thoroughly understand all this without 10 or 15 years of experience?

Maybe this explains that. I have the impression that the semiconductor industry has kind of an “old” feeling attached to it, as if the hardware industry were lagging behind the software industry. Remember when all you had was proprietary software products that were incompatible with each other? This is EDA today. Where else do you need an NDA to read a datasheet or a tool’s documentation? Where else are you forbidden to compare competing products? Sad but true: for example if you read Xilinx’s license, you will see in section 4. Restrictions, sub-section (b) General Restrictions, the following: “Licensee is not licensed to, and agrees not to: (iii) publish or disclose the results of any benchmarking of the Software”. Cadence goes further in its website’s terms of use: “Any postings to chat rooms, forums, message boards, contests, or similar information you submit, as well as any computer code, bug fix, or other creative idea you provide, shall be deemed, and shall remain, the property of Cadence“.

This kind of attitude is part of the problem. Let’s take another example. Most EDA software use the same licensing program, the well-known FlexLM. That stuff is 26 years old. Surely by now you’d imagine we would have a better solution? Well there are alternatives. So why does EDA keep using this one? Is it because this industry is a conservative triumvirate? Is it because these three are just too big? But being a behemoth has never prevented innovation! Agreed, it does make it more difficult, because of the innovator’s dilemma, but many bigger companies still manage to innovate a lot. Google’s revenue for 2013 is about $60 billion, that’s respectively around 30, 40, and 60 times the revenue of Synopsys, Cadence, and Mentor Graphics. If being big does not prevent innovation, what else could?

I think this is a cultural problem. We have a kind of chicken and egg problem, with users who have become afraid of change (including new EDA software) because change has all too often caused problems, and with companies that do not change things because they fear this is is going to cause problems or to make users angry. And in the end, users are the ones who give you money, so you try to listen to them. That’s actually fine, as long as you keep in mind that only a small percentage of users are actually innovators and early adopters, and these are the ones willing to change first; if you convince them, you have a much better chance of convincing the others (more or less easily, see Crossing the Chasm, and the post I wrote about this Are you pre-chasm?). This is a distinctive trait of the semiconductor industry in my opinion: we seem to hear the late majority (to quote the original research, “older and fairly conservative”) voice its opinion much more than one would otherwise expect.

Despite all that, though, I love writing EDA software for all hardware designers who are open to the possibility of improving their design flow. It makes me pretty happy when I meet or talk with them :-) And of course I love designing hardware with the Cx language that we created!

Securing Those Devices

 
January 23rd, 2014 by Rob van Blommestein

Stories of data hacking have been dominating the news lately.  It seems that hackers are getting smarter and more bold, but what is also making it easier for hackers is that more and more of our everyday devices are connected to the internet making unauthorized access to these devices much easier to achieve and harder to detect.  The Internet of Things is giving rise to a whole new set of security concerns.

As consumers and businesses become more vulnerable to attack, they need to feel more confident that the electronic machines they are using are more secure regardless of the ubiquitous nature of an all-connected world.

In order for providers of these devices to achieve this attack-proof status, they need to invest heavily in design and verification solutions that can secure their hardware designs.  However, this added investment comes at a cost.  That cost is time. We as consumers still want the latest and greatest electronic gadgetry earlier and earlier putting even more pressure on already hyper-stringent time-to-market targets for electronic providers.

Even with these added pressures, current methods for verifying that the hardware can withstand attack are essentially inadequate due to their non-exhaustive nature. Simulation and emulation methods can leave many corner cases left unchecked and thus exposing the hardware to attackers.

This is where formal analysis can come into play.  Formal verification is exhaustive and therefore can find every possible scenario that could leave the hardware device open to hackers.

At DVCon 2014 Jasper technical experts Victor Markus Purri and Lawrence Loh are giving a tutorial on “Formally Verifying Security Aspects of SoC Designs” showing how formal analysis can be applied to this area.

You can register for this tutorial at http://dvcon.org/content/rates.

You can also download our white paper on Security Path Verification to learn more  – http://jasper-da.com/resource-library/technical-white-papers.

Titanium Technology:Creating Porous Materials from Powdered Titanium

 
December 6th, 2013 by Adam Prattler

Photo credits: mush

The Titanium Technologies Platform in New Zealand is getting some attention around the world for their work with new ways to use titanium. This is exciting news for a lot of people involved with businesses that use the material for one reason or another. Specifically, the group has developed a way to make porous materials from powdered titanium. This is going to open up a lot of applications in the aerospace industry not to mention marine engineering and possible biomedical uses.

According to initial research and results, some are saying that new titanium based products are going to open up a huge market in New Zealand in the coming years. This brings up an interesting point – whether or not other countries around the world will try to duplicate the technology on their own in order to find even newer ways to use titanium in an industrial sense.

Read the rest of Titanium Technology:Creating Porous Materials from Powdered Titanium

5 Unique Japanese Gadgets You Can Buy (But Do You Really Want To?)

 
November 24th, 2013 by Adam Prattler

Got cash to spare? Want to be the talk of town by acquiring some nifty chindogu? If your answer is a resounding yes, then check out our short list of unique japanese innovations you can fill up your collection with. Yatta!

Photo Credits:techeblog

1. Japanese kissing training device – Brought to you by Zima, a cocktail brand with an added twist, Kiss-a-Zima lets you (somewhat) make out with hot Japanese idols Aya Kiguchi, Yukina Kinoshita or Yutaka Teshima – kissing ronins can attach the nifty silicone lips (molded after said idols) to the cocktail bottle and smooch away.

Photo Credits:Japantrendshop

2. Talking fridge toys – Lonely and bored each time you open the refrigerator? Now with Fridgeezoo Fridge Pets, you don’t have to shed tears of boredom whenever you make the pilgrimage to the ice box. Not only are they friendly and chatty, your very own fridge pets (choose from Polar Bear, Walrus, Penguin and Seal) also gently remind you whenever the fridge is left open too long!

Photo Credits: LaughingSquid

3. Anti-loneliness ramen bowl – Useful or just plain anti-social, this anti-loneliness ramen bowl features an iPhone dock that allows your smartphone to be perched precariously on the edge of your bowl. We can’t make up our mind whether it’s smart or just plain sad. ForeverAlone.jpg, anyone?

 

Photo Credits: Animal Designer

4. Gotochi Dissection Animals – Cute keychains are the norm in the Land of the Rising Sun, but keychains of animals (think: panda, fish, cow, pig and the like) that allow you take apart piece by piece, organs and all? We think this would make heartfelt gifts for biology students but other than that, we’ll pass for now.

 5. Marriage-Hunting Bra – To boost Japan’s rapidly declining marriage rate, the Marriage-Hunting Bra or Konkatsu Bra features a marriage-countdown digital clock right smack in between your future wife’s mammary glands. Want to stop the countdown? In the words of Beyonce, you gotta “put a ring on it”.

Sara Xiang is Japanese gadgets and toys collector. She has more than 200 pieces in her home. In her spare time she become active in  social media marketing, personally she likes melbourne digital agency.

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