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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

SmartFlow Compliance Solutions: Taking the offensive on Software Piracy

November 18th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

This week Synopsys announced “unauthorized third-party access to Synopsys EDA, IP and optical products and product license files through its customer-facing license and product delivery system. The unauthorized access, which began in July 2015, was discovered by Synopsys in October 2015.”

The fact that the company needs to make this announcement is indicative of a new attitude towards an old problem: Software companies who lose their products to theft and piracy no longer want to just buck up and get past it, particularly in EDA. Instead, they want tools and strategies to go after their adversaries. The newly launched startup SmartFlow Compliance Solutions, just announced last week, is planning to offer such tools.

Launched by Ted Miracco – one of the founders of EDA vendor AWR Corp. – SmartFlow is based on his experience dealing with pirated AWR product software, including tracking down and forcing restitution from companies who were proven culpable. In a phone call last week discussing his new company, Miracco said pirated software is more than just an occasional nuisance, it’s resulting in billions of dollars in lost revenue to the companies whose products are being used without licenses.

More profound than lost profits, however, is the ’tilting’ of the playing field. When companies who use pirated software to design chips or systems are able to undercut their competition by underpaying for the tools they need, or by not paying at all, the competition is hobbled.

In response, SmartFlow has engineered a complex set of tools and protocols that will allow companies to unearth pirated instantiations of their software across a variety of customer profiles. To begin their effort to build those tools, Miracco and his team looked closely at software non-compliance around the globe, parsed the different types of pirates and examined their principal strategies.

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ARM TechCon: 800 Pounds of Gorilla in a Paradise of Mass Extinction

November 5th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

When it comes to conferences about IP, or design for that matter, it sure seems like ARM TechCon has become the 800-pound gorilla. With over 100 exhibitors and folks coming in from all over the world to present or attend presentations, it’s huge.

Topics du jour at the Santa Clara Convention Center on November 10th to 12th are set to include security, IoT, connected cars, innovation, investments, embedded software, mobile devices, entertainment, low power, and more security. Not to mention things that can see for you, drive for you, sense for you, feel for you, and scare the hell out of you. In other words, everything that defines life here in 2015. Or so they tell us.

But let’s look at what won’t be on the menu at ARM TechCon. International dismay over downed aircraft. International dismay over automobiles that lie when they’re tested for emissions. International dismay over cyberhacking orchestrated by one nation-state against another. And the UK’s decision to prohibit encryption of online communication to the level that nation states cannot break the code. In other words, everything the defines life here in 2015.

The other thing that won’t be on the menu? My own recent consumer history.

Read the rest of ARM TechCon: 800 Pounds of Gorilla in a Paradise of Mass Extinction

EDAC’s Costume Contest: Patent Trolls don’t win

October 29th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

It’s the gospel truth that if you want to know what went down this evening at the first event in EDAC’s newly launched legal series, you can just wait a sec and see the video when it’s posted to the consortium’s website. But then, as they say, why let the truth get in the way of a good story.

I sat in the back of the room at 3801 Zanker Road in San Jose, imbibing a bit of La Crema Chardonnay and enjoying way too much shrimp and cocktail sauce. Best place if you want to relax, enjoy the evening, and count heads. There were 75 in the room, by the way, all there to enjoy the 2-hour gab fest. And gab fest it was.

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Fingerprinting IP: IPextreme’s Motive, Means, Opportunity

October 15th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

There’s a term for engineering solutions that are simple, necessary and sufficient. The term is elegant. And that’s the term that must be applied to the latest announcement out of IPextreme.

The company has come up with a simple, elegant process whereby IP blocks can be assigned a fingerprint, an unalterable bit of code that can be attached to the block and stays with it as that IP passes along into a chip design. The fingerprint then allows that IP to be detected, using IPextreme’s DNA analysis tool, by everyone involved with that chip going forward. Where everyone includes not just the engineers, but the lawyers and accountants in semiconductor companies who need to verify that a particular IP block in a commercial design has been legally procured and paid for.

Because, ultimately IPextreme’s fingerprinting scheme is about above-board licensing of IP, and guaranteeing legitimate revenue for the companies that make third-party IP and design reuse a reality. It’s that simple and elegant.

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IP Users Conference: Constellations set to Host at Testarossa Winery

October 8th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

October 20th is just around the corner, so please click here to register for the 2015 Silicon Valley IP Users Conference. It’s hard to see anything about this event not to like: wine, excellent speakers, conversations very specific to the technology and business of IP, and did we mention wine? It’s being held at the Testarossa Winery in Los Gatos.

Of course, it’s hats off to IPextreme’s Constellations consortium for hosting the day-long event, plus special kudos to EDAC for an innovative outlook allowing that consortium to sponsor the 4 pm end-of-day networking reception even though not a single EDA company is on the speaker list. But what’s especially impressive about the October 20th event is the suggestion that various stake-holders in the IP industry can come together in this manner.

IP is still having to fight for full representation at DAC and even to a certain extent within EDAC, despite the ARM CEO being on the Board of Directors, so an enthusiastic conference and rounds of conversation arranged for and by the IP industry is pretty damn cool stuff.

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Answer’s nope: Should EDA Consortium become IP Consortium?

September 30th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

The news is good out of EDA this week: The industry continues up and to the right.

EDAC’s Market Statistic Services produced the numbers: “The EDA industry revenue increased 8.5 percent for Q2 2015 to $1906.5 million, compared to $1757.9 million in Q2 2014. The four-quarters moving average, which compares the most recent four quarters to the prior four quarters, also increased by 8.5 percent. Companies that were tracked employed a record 32,806 professionals in Q2 2015, an increase of 4.9 percent compared to the 31,259 people employed in Q2 2014, and up 2.1 percent compared to Q1 2015.”

Mentor CEO Walden C. Rhines provided the commentary: “The industry’s strong, and exceptionally good in CAE, where the concentration is emulation, functional verification, and test, [while] IC physical design also reported solid growth. Geographically, all regions except Japan saw revenue increases, especially Asia/Pacific. The PacRim was strong in Q2, North America was strong, and Europe was pure gold.”

“The numbers are also very good in IP,” he continued, “especially in EDA combined with IP. The external companies, dominated by ARM, showed unusually large growth in Q2, and the internal IP companies are also showing excellent growth.”

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Austin to ARM: Aristocracy to Meritocracy

September 9th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

ARM must be doing something right when among the eight corporate sponsors for their upcoming Silicon Valley users conference in November, the top three companies in EDA are listed as Diamond or Platinum.

Cadence is Diamond, undoubtedly, because company President & CEO Lip-Bu Tan is co-chair of EDAC, and ARM CEO Simon Segars is on the EDAC Board. But why would Mentor and Synposys spend good money being Platinum sponsors of ARM’s show when they could put that particular chunk of disposable income into their own user conferences, or even DAC? Particularly since Mentor and Synopsys sell IP, as does Cadence, so in some ways the three EDA companies may actually be competing with ARM.

There are three possible answers: A) Mentor, Synopsys, and Cadence serve as channels for ARM products. B) Mentor, Synopsys, and Cadence want to see, and be seen by, ARM’s enormous worldwide customer base. C) ARM has the winning hand in today’s semiconductor supply chain, so either the Big Three in EDA pony up to help sponsor ARM TechCon, or the UK-based IP behemoth won’t cooperate in the EDA world; they won’t offer pointers or tool-development advice for the third-party design software that EDA vendors sell and ARM customers [might] buy.

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DOCEA Power: What’s the scoop?

August 19th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

When it comes to Docea Power, there’s no scoop. There’s no news at all. Except of course that they’ve been bought by Intel, which in itself is pretty big news for any company. Except apparently Docea. There was/is no press release and was/is no access to details on the deal. Nothing.

There is proof, however, that the acquisition took place. Right on the front of the Docea website. But that’s it.

Having interviewed the brothers who founded Docea, Ghislain and Sylvain Kaiser, multiple times over the years – at DATE in Europe and at various conferences here in the U.S. — I certainly hoped to know more, and I tried. But their people — the ones who reached out to journalists in June asking for meetings with the company at DAC, back when Docea still existed — were candid: “There is no press release available. And there will be no talk with Docea founders”

And that’s it. Except for this …

Lucky Intel!

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Vacation’s over: Autumn Conferences Ramp-up

August 12th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

Autumn used to start in September, but now classes and conferences commence in August and vacation ends just that much sooner. Here’s a list of various events you should consider attending between now and the end of the year, with thanks to conference organizers for the associated descriptions.

Scanning the range of topics, it’s clear the combined IP and EDA industries have an increasingly broad range of interests: IoT, autos, wearables, software security, verifying/integrating IP, power, device physics, memory, embedded processors and software, sensors, MEMS, a range of standards, networking, both the professional and technical kinds, and “synergistic collaborative design” both up in the cloud and down below on solid ground.

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Vietnam, the Franchise: Asia’s newest Tier 1 Outsourcing Destination

July 30th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

If you had told me in 1975 that 40 years later Silicon Valley would be hosting an informational meeting to advertise an upcoming tech conference in Vietnam, I would have said you were crazy.

Like millions of others in April 1975, I watched apocryphal images on the nightly news of thousands of refuges being airlifted off rooftops in Saigon and military helicopters being pushed off the decks of aircraft carriers to make room for the human detritus of the final throes of decades of war, the last 10 of which included overwhelming American involvement and a death toll far in excess of a million lives.

Even today, that war, its architects and aftermath, are proving themselves to be contentious, divisive topics in American homes and in our national arenas of political mud-slinging.

Yet this blog is not about all of that; it’s about the aforementioned tech conference. But to start without a brief mention of 1975 is to write about a small brochure lying on the tabletop while a massive elephant stands muddy and mute in the middle of the room. At least for people of my generation.

In Vietnam today, however, folks of my generation are no longer the norm. The population now stands at 93 million-plus, the median age is 30, the country is young and optimistic, and looking to its future as an admired destination for tourists and international business interests alike.

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