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The Cognitive Era: Don’t be fooled, it’s already over

Thursday, September 14th, 2017


In a unique new partnership between the ESD Alliance and San Jose State University
, SJSU alum and legendary EDA VC Jim Hogan will be speaking on campus this coming Wednesday evening, September 20th, at 7:00 pm.

Hogan’s topic is revolutionary, the Cognitive Era, and the official message behind his talk is all things bright and beautiful:

“Cognitive science is a diverse field which is unified and motivated by a single basic inquiry: How does my education, career and life change in the Cognitive Era? How do people, animals or computers ‘think,’ act and learn? To understand the mind and brain, cognitive science brings together methods and discoveries from neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, philosophy and data/computer science.”

The unofficial message, however, ain’t so cheery. That’s because we already know how people think, act and learn. They do it all around us all the time, and so do we. We don’t need the sciences of neurology, psychology, linguology, philology, or digital-ology to explain it to us.

What we do need is for those disciplines to protect us from all that science and engineering has produced, the stuff that’s now overwhelming our sense of wholeness and health, sanity and serenity.

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IC Manage: A Roadmap out to Forever

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

 


Talking to Dean Drako is probably a little like talking to Elon Musk:
Both men have their fingers in multiple pies. In Drako’s case, and apropos to semiconductor design, one pie includes the IP and EDA industries.

Dean Drako founded IC Manage in 2003, a company whose products are targeted at IC designers who need help coordinating their efforts, integrating third-party IP into their design equation, and accelerating design. Interestingly, at the same time Drako was founding IC Manage, he was also founding Barracuda Networks, and ran both companies simultaneously for a number of years.

Today 14 years later, Drako still serves as President and CEO of IC Manage, but is ‘only’ on the board of Barracuda. Lest you think his plate is not full enough, however, he’s also currently President and CEO of Eagle Eye Networks.

Prior to our phone call last week, I researched Drako on Wikipedia: “Drako has written a number of articles on Open Source, Big Data, and SoC design. He is a frequently invited speaker on the topic of entrepreneurship [and] is a holder of 27 patents, including patents in network security, network protocols, digital circuits, software, biochemical processes, and sporting equipment.”

Yeah, pretty much just like talking to Elon Musk.

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Conversations: The Pulse of the Ecosystem

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

 


Between now and the end of 2017
, it’s my hope to speak to every company currently a member of the ESD Alliance. These companies vary in size, interests, product offerings, and leadership outlooks. The one thing they share, however, is a sense that together they enhance the ecosystem within which electronic systems are designed.

Over the last several months, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several companies in the ecosystem about Grand Challenges in IP and EDA – Sonics, CAST, Silvaco, Synopsys, Adapt-IP, and Mentor Graphics.

Now the plan is to speak with companies that are specifically members of the ESD Alliance with the following questions in mind:

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History Lessons: Thomas Alva, Wilbur, Orville, Patents & You

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

 


Last month it was a visit to Thomas Alva Edison’s labs and manufacturing headquarters
in West Orange, New Jersey, and this month it was a 20-hour road trip to see the eclipse in rural Oregon, accompanied by a books-on-tape rendition of “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough. These two things together – the visit and the road trip – brought into sharp focus the historical impact of the patent process on innovation and technology in the U.S.

Edison had only a grade-school education, yet his inventiveness and fierce sense of competition drove him to create not only world-changing technologies on his own, but to establish a revolutionary full-fledged R&D facility in West Orange [moved from its original location in Menlo Park] and the means by which ideas emanating from those labs could be commercialized and ramped to volume manufacturing. He wanted to own the entire process, from invention to final sale, and in many areas of science and engineering he did just that.

The Thomas Edison National Park is really just a series of wooden buildings where breakthroughs in the electric light bulb, and subsequent establishment of a power-distribution industry, as well as ground-breaking developments in recording sound, in particular the human voice, were pursued in lock-step with equally revolutionary developments in motion picture engineering. In fact, it was on this day in 1891 that Edison patented the Kinetograph, his term for a motion picture camera.

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Turbines to Crimea: Is Mentor Graphics German, or still American?

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

 


As national and international news crashes over the shore
, wave after wave, it’s easy to lose track of any particular item amidst the churning foam. The story discussed here, however, floats more visibly atop the flotsam and jetsam because it’s relevant to the IP and EDA industries.

Several weeks ago, Siemens AG – a German company – was caught-up in a violation of a part of the current EU sanctions against Russia. Siemens’s power turbines, having been sold to Russia – which was not a violation – were then allegedly modified and shipped off to Crimea for installation there – which was a violation.

You remember Crimea. It was part of Ukraine until 2014, and then it was not.

Anyway when the turbine situation was uncovered, the EU was not happy with Siemens; Siemens was not happy with Russia; if Russia or Crimea were unhappy with anyone, they kept it to themselves.

As a result of these revelations, Siemens AG now faces a fine from the EU, and has canceled several high-profile, lucrative business deals with Russian firms. Siemens is mad – slightly less rich, and mad.

Which brings us to Mentor Graphics. Such experts we are, who have had the chance to learn about Export Controls from the likes of Cadence’s Larry Disenhof or SmartFlow’s Ted Miracco, and it’s that knowledge which seems relevant to Mentor.

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Austemper & Functional Safety: The Alchemy of Modifying Design

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

 


It’s good to know another EDA startup has emerged
, they’ve been in such short supply of late.

Austin-based Austemper Design Systems is an EDA startup focused on functional safety that had the good luck to find the Design Automation Conference in their own front yard this year – making it easy for the company to exhibit in Austin and showcase their newly announced suite of tools.

Speaking by phone in a recent call, Austemper Founder & CEO Sanjay Pillay said, “We offer four different tools in our suite, one that analyzes quantitative metrics, two for design automation that go in and add diagnostic conversions and can be used for a single block of IP or for the entire design, and a fourth tool that runs fault-injection analysis.”

Given that the company has only been underway since March 2015, I suggested that tool portfolio represents a lot of productivity over a short amount of time.

Pillay agreed: “Although we are young, we are already working with the largest semiconductor companies in the world, and in the process of negotiating licenses with others.

“DAC was a great place to announce our products. We had more than 30 meetings and demonstrations with potential customers and partners during DAC. It was also an opportunity for us to meet in person with people we have interacted with over e-mails and conference calls, to make that human connection.”

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Concertal Systems SDA: Holy Grail, the Musical

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

 


Last year, Texas-based Concertal Systems came to DAC, but only as an observer
. This year, the 15-month-old startup actually exhibited at the conference and, per reports, gave a pitch-perfect debut of their newly announced offerings: A suite of web-based tools – Audition, Orchestrate, Rehearse – which the company says effectively solves many of the problems associated with SDA, system design automation.

Per Concertal Founder and CEO Bob Ledzius, the automation of modern system design is completely dependent on the ability to seek out, vet, and integrate IP. But that process has been stalled, until now.

“A lot of people have been promising these capabilities,” Ledzius said during our recent phone call, “but we’re actually delivering on the promise with our SDA methodology.

“A lot of people have been doing great stuff to solve the incremental problems around system design, but we started by asking the right questions, not just the incremental ones. We took a step back and said, if you want the ability to develop designs in minutes – not months – then you need to develop a system for high-level IP reuse.

“Starting from this point of view, we came up with specific conclusions and solved the problem of IP verification and integration.”

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ARM: A Gnawing Sense of Unease

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

 


It’s been a year since two cataclysmic news bits hit the wires
, the two stories not unrelated.

The UK decided to Brexit the EU on 23 June 2016, and ARM announced it had been sold to Tokyo-based SoftBank three weeks later, on 18 July 2016. For some, these developments would have been unthinkable up to the moment they unfolded, but now they’re both a reality.

Article 50 was triggered by the British PM on 29 March 2017, and the UK will no longer be in the EU as of March 2019.

ARM is no longer publicly traded, and although it was once the crown jewel of Britain’s technical portfolio, it is now a wholly owned Japanese enterprise. Or at least it was, until 7 March 2017 when SoftBank announced an even more astonishing bit of news.

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SmartFlow: The Importance of Export Compliance

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

 


Below is a contributed op-ed piece
from SmartFlow Compliance Solutions CEO Ted Miracco, and company AE Akshay Dhule.

I last spoke with Miracco in November 2015 when the company launched, offering tools and strategies to software companies who have lost product to theft and piracy. At the time, Synopsys was dealing with a publicly-acknowledged system breach, so that conversation with SmartFlow was particularly pertinent.

This current piece, however, is about export compliance, a topic also of intense interest to the EDA industry.

Cadence’s Larry Disenhof is the industry’s subject expert in this area. Having heard him speak numerous times, although the piece below ends with a plug for SmartFlow, Disenhoff would undoubtedly agree with an articulate reminder that export compliance is neither optional nor for the faint of heart.

The message is clear: If you’re running a software company, ignore these issues at your own peril.

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UltraSoC: Addressing their Customer’s Customer

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

 


UltraSoC is on a roll
, having just wrapped up an energetic participation in the last month’s RISC-V conference in Shanghai, where UltraSoC CTO Gadge Panesar was a speaker. Additionally, the company is announcing “new funding, new investors, and new board members” – including UC Berkeley’s Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli.

When I spoke this week with company CEO Rupert Baines, he started with Shanghai: “There is so much interest in RISC-V in China. The attendance there [exceeded] the headcount at the previous meetings at Google and MIT, although the numbers may be confusing as there were so many students at the Shanghai event.”

Asked if the RISC-V event would be in China again, Baines said, “I believe going forward there will be one conference in the U.S. each year, probably in Silicon Valley, and one international. Nvidia sponsored the latest one through their presence in Shanghai.”

Turning to UltraSoC, I asked about the company’s origin, market and competition.

Baines said, “We do semiconductor IP that solves a problem. The chips are so big and complicated today, understanding how they work – with lots of processors and lots of software interacting with each other and the real world – is incredibly difficult.

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CST: Webinar series
TrueCircuits: IoTPLL



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