Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Thursday, May 4th, 2017
It’s not been pretty of late in the world of IP. Imagination’s valuation tanked when it was revealed in early April that the company might be losing Apple as a customer. Imagination says it’s going to fight this development, but a different ending to the story of David and Goliath comes to mind in that declaration.
Then this week, that same Imagination announced it was selling MIPS – a company it bought back in 2012 with great fanfare for [a mere] $60 million. [It’s true, MIPS’ patent portfolio was worth a lot more.]
Also this week, TSMC announced it is charging a former employee with IP theft: The former employee is alleged to have stolen manufacturing data from TSMC specifically related to Nvidia and AMD chip production, taken it across the Straights of Taiwan, and turned it over to his new employer in the PRC, HLMC.
Thursday, April 27th, 2017
Tom Alsop and the team at Accellera are elated: The UVM standard has been accepted by the IEEE as 1800.2 and congratulations are certainly in order.
The effort has consumed upwards of 10 years, and represents thousands of man-hours of effort, consultation, compromise, consensus building, rinse and repeat. Over and over until the final product was polished, presented and approved by the IEEE. Not an easy process by anybody’s estimation.
When we spoke by phone this week about the Accellera announcement, I asked Tom Alsop [Principal Engineer at Intel] how difficult the whole thing had actually been.
He chuckled slightly: “For us, it was fairly difficult.”
Thursday, April 20th, 2017
There’s two kinds of conversations when it comes to electrical systems and cars. One is about the power train and the other one is about the advanced driver-assistance system, ADAS. Distinct as they may be, both of these systems can benefit from the optimizations associated with design automation, and both of these systems today are mashed up against the complexities of using third-party IP.
Chips in cars today need to manage the power train, or they need to provide safety and security for the driver – but either way, they need to work perfectly every time, all the time, and in some pretty hellish conditions. It’s hot under the hood and the road today is unforgiving. So are the lawyers.
So what’s a third-party IP provider supposed to do? Turn tail and run? Never sell into the automotive market where litigation looms larger than a sandstorm in April on the Texas Panhandle? Or try to man-up and work with the automotive market to provide IP that fits well into the chips that such customers need?
Thursday, April 13th, 2017
Something eerie and inexplicable happened on Thursday evening, April 6th. Out of nowhere, an intense storm swept through the Bay Area, unannounced and without warning. The skies darkened, the winds howled, severe rain pelted the crowded, suddenly dangerous freeways, and hundreds of thousands lost power.
Meanwhile, exactly in the midst of the most violent part of this mysterious storm, the CEOs of the four most important companies within the ESD Alliance sat on stools in front of an audience assembled at Synopsys and chatted about this, that, and the other. Seemingly oblivious to the profound violence unleashing itself just outside the windows, they acted as if nothing was amiss.
Everything in the industry – and the world – was in order: Wonderful, with the data pointing continuously up and to the right, and everywhere ample evidence for a bullish, optimistic, and excited outlook on the future of EDA and IP.
No matter that Nature was having its way out there in the darkness, that the U.S. had bombed Syria the hour before their discussion began, that the drumbeat for answers about entanglements with Russia was quickening, or difficult conversations with the President of the PRC were underway that very day in Florida – the CEOs of Synopsys, Cadence, Siemens/Mentor Graphics and SoftBank/ARM sat relaxed and easy, basking in the evident vitality of the EDA and IP industries, and allowing themselves to be shepherded through a congenial confab of confident chit-chat by Ed Sperling of Semiconductor Engineering fame.
That fact that the vagaries of Nature never came into the conversation was not surprising; the fact the Mr. Sperling refused all opportunities to bring what he termed as “politics” into the conversation was quite the opposite. Surprising, that is.
Thursday, March 16th, 2017
It takes skill and surgical precision to launch and maintain a tech startup, especially today and extra-especially in a market as competitive as IP. Nonetheless, Massachusetts-based Performance-IP seems to have accomplished that feat.
It’s true, this is not the first IP company co-founded by Performance-IP CTO Gregg Recupero. In the early 1990’s, he helped to found VAutomation which developed IP for system-level verification [and was acquired by ARC in 2000].
In our phone call this week, I asked Recupero how a small IP company today can compete with the behemoth IP providers.
Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Not for the first time, it’s become obvious that designing a bathroom is very similar to designing a chip. The effort requires a confident sense of the end-product you’re trying to accomplish – and then a great deal of necessary tedium.
Because these days, bathrooms and chips incorporate a huge number of IP blocks and the process of tracking down the final candidates, reworking the design over and over to see how each candidate fits in, then making the final selection, confirming with each IP vendor that the price and availability of their particular block meets your design budget and schedule, then nailing down the finished design, actually ordering and paying for the IP that will go into the design, and crossing your fingers that nothing untowards has happened between the moment you made your final part/IP selection and the moment the vendor’s supposed to pony up the goods.
The process of creating a bathroom or chip design that includes a great deal of IP is really complex. It requires a lot of shopping, validating, purchasing, receiving and integrating IP into the design.
Thursday, February 23rd, 2017
Oski Technology has added a new page to its playbook. Now it’s not just a services company, it’s an IP company as well. This week, the company announced it’s Formal Verification IP Library targeted at those companies using ARM’s AMBA interface protocols.
When we spoke on the phone about the announcement, I asked Oski VP of Applications Engineering Roger Sabbagh why now for this product release. He said: “I personally have been working in Formal since the year 2000, back when I joined 0-In, and over the years I’ve learned that formal adoption grows slowly.
“Yet although there has never been a knee in the curve, we have seen some important developments in the industry. Synopsys developed PC Formal and Cadence bought Jasper, both indicating that Formal is catching on slowly but surely.”
Thursday, February 16th, 2017
Millions of people are talking about when we will stop driving our cars, many thousands are working on it, and six among those thousands made an appearance Tuesday evening, February 7th, on a panel at IEEE’s International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.
Over the course of the hour, the six speakers outlined their different visions of the technical roadmap that must be pursued to achieve fully autonomous cars. Of the six speakers, however, only three actually attempted to answer the panel prompt and their answers were wildly disparate.
So when will we stop driving our cars? 1) It’s impossible to know. 2) Not until 2030. 3) We already are beginning to stop driving our cars.
The panel was moderated by a senior Intel engineer, heavily involved in the company’s newly organized business unit specifically focused on autonomous driving systems.
Thursday, February 9th, 2017
This week, the ESD Alliance announced that Sonics CEO Grant Pierce has been elected chair of the organization’s Board of Directors. His election is unique in several ways: Pierce is the first CEO of an IP company to lead the Alliance; he replaces two co-chairs, Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan and PDF Solutions, John Kibarian; and he is only the second CEO of a non-publicly traded company to serve as Board Chair, the other being Jasper CEO Kathryn Kranen who took the reins in 2012.
When Pierce and I spoke by phone on Tuesday about his election, he noted the unique circumstances of his new leadership role: “When I joined the board several years ago, it was with the intention to add a new point of view to what was then the EDA Consortium, to help the organization reflect the emerging reality of what was happening in the marketplace with respect to IP companies.
“In some ways, the IP companies consider themselves to be a necessary evil. Every chip developed today involves some sort of third-party IP, so having a place on the Board of the ESD Alliance is essential.”
Thursday, January 19th, 2017
At the ESD Alliance panel on the Cadence campus Wednesday night, it was Vista Ventures’ Jim Hogan who suggested the little open-source processor architecture called RISC-V will prove itself to be a plucky survivor when looming market realities hit 800-pound proprietary vendors like ARM and Intel. Hogan suggested RISC-V is positioned to survive that pending apocalypse just like “the mammals after the asteroid.”
Pretty dramatic stuff.
Hence it should not have been surprising, at the end of the 75-minute discussion on stage between Jim Hogan and Microsemi’s Ted Speers and SiFive’s Yunsup Lee, that I raised my hand and asked why Simon Segars was not in the room. After all, Simon Segars is both CEO of ARM and a key member of the Board of the Alliance that organized the Hogan-Speers-Lee program – a program where the emerging RISC-V movement was described as poised to upend the primacy of ARM etc.
Hogan responded to my question without answering: “Look, ARM is challenging by serving the low-cost processor market. License fees, royalty fees – that is what ARM wants for their low-power edge-based device. I think it was Simon, for example, who started talking to The Street about his economic strategy. It’s not really about what the best technology is, but about the economics. This is what gets the traction, and ARM will respond in an economic way.”
“Yes,” Ted Speers added, “and Intel and Imagination will also respond.”