Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.
March 21st, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
If you thought about going to the Synopsys Users Group meeting next week in Silicon Valley, there’s at least one topic that would make it worth your time: This week ARM and Synopsys announced “optimized 28-nm Synopsys Reference Implementations for ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore and Cortex-A7 MPCore processor clusters, as well as the CoreLink CCI-400 cache-coherent interconnect.”
The reference implementations are currently available, and include “scripts, floorplan, constraints and documentation” – scripts that are built on Synopsys’ tool Reference Methodologies and are optimized for high-performance cores. Clearly attending SNUG would clarify what you need to know to use all of this, but first apparently you need to understand ARM’s big.LITTLE processing. Which is what?
March 12th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
As the trading day in New York draws to a close, it would appear that some analysts are correct; the market’s not too pleased about yesterday’s announcement that Cadence is acquiring Tensilica. Shares of CDNS are trading down well over 3% today. But you know, the market’s stupid. They understand zip zero nada about EDA or IP, and really why should they?
After all, EDA and IP providers make the black magic that they do look so easy. And, they’re constantly telling people that what they do isn’t rocket science. But it is! The EDA vendors make the tools that IP vendors use to create their products, and designers use to integrate said IP into the larger designs. It’s called an eco-system and it is rocket science.
It’s also on the level of brain surgery, quantum physics, and a bunch of other esoteric science and engineering disciplines that require a lot of education and and a lot of OJT, and even then is really hard to do. How many traders on Wall Street, or the analysts who track it all, really understand what EDA and/or IP are all about? Exactly!
February 28th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
If you’re free on the evening of Thursday, March 14th, you should plan on attending EDAC’s annual CEO Forecast Panel. It promises to be full of executive content, albeit perhaps a bit light on forecast content, but oh well. That’s the nature of life in the Publicly Traded Fast Lane these days.
Along with the CEOs of Mentor Graphics, Cadence, Synopsys, and Nimbic, the president of ARM will also be on stage, Simon Segars. Segars is no stranger to public speaking. You can hear his recent ARM TechCon 2012 keynote here. But it’s not what Segars will say on stage at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose on March 14th that matters. It’s his body language, and you’ll only be able to read that if you’re in the room.
February 14th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
After the euphoniously monikered IP provider, Uniquify, announced several weeks ago that the more whimsically monikered organization, Pixelworks, is using Uniquify’s DDR memory controller subsystem IP for multiple distinct processors that Pixelworks is, in turn, providing to TV makers who make 4Kx2K ultra high-def systems, one question still remained: How did Pixelworks know to use Uniquify’s offering?
According to a January 2013 article in IEEE Spectrum, knowing what IP to use in a project here in the 21st century is fairly easy knowledge to come by. I don’t know what planet the author of the op-ed piece, “Other People’s Knowledge”, lives on but it doesn’t seem to be the one that I hear about from the folks who make or buy third-party IP.
In fact, those people seem to indicate that knowing what IP to use in a particular project continues to be far more art than science. In particular, because until a system, or sub-system, is fully defined, modeled and simulated – let alone, manufactured and deployed in the field – one can never really know how a piece of IP is going to work in the environment into which it’s been placed.
February 7th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
Interesting news this week that Cadence will be acquiring Cosmic Circuits, interesting because Cosmic Circuits is “a provider of analog/mixed-signal IP cores in the 40nm and 28nm process nodes, with 20nm and FinFET development well underway.”
Great idea to keep expanding into IP for any EDA company, but does this move put Cadence in direct competition with its own customers? No problem, per the February 7th Press Release: “The addition of the Cosmic Circuits product line will broaden the Cadence IP portfolio, strengthening its solutions to address mobile device, cloud/datacenter and Internet of Things market opportunities.”
January 31st, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley based Kilopass Technology continues to advocate for non-volatile memory, in particular the company’s VCM [Vertical Cross-point Memory] bit-cell technology. In a recent phone call with Andre Hassan, Field Marketing and Applications Director at the company, we discussed why Kilopass see the future going their way.
WWJD: In 25 words or less, what is NVM?
Andre Hassan: Non Volatile Memory [NVM], at least the Kilopass version, is a one-time programmable standard CMOS process anti-fuse memory that maintains its contents through power down.
WWJD: When did volatile memory become King of the Hill?
Andre Hassan: With the introduction of SRAM and DRAM from companies like IBM and Intel in the late 1960’s.
WWJD: When will NVM mean just memory and not a special form of memory?
Andre Hassan: Actually it started out that way with magnetic core memory in the mid-1950s. Since then, the industry has tried to come back to it multiple times. It’s the holy grail that people have been chasing as long as I’ve been in the industry.
January 30th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
DesignCon’s unfolding in Silicon Valley all week. Among the many companies exhibiting there, IP provider CAST and its IP core development partner Beyond Semiconductor are enjoying a particularly excellent experience. When I stopped in at CAST’s booth on the DesignCon floor for a brief chat with company CEO Hal Barbour this afternoon, he told me his company’s revenue numbers for January 2013 alone are set to outpace CAST’s total first-quarter revenues from 2010, 2011, or 2012.
Given the energy and attendance swirling about us at DesignCon, Barbour’s impressive financials were not a complete surprise – Silicon Valley is back – but a revitalized revenue stream is not the only reason CAST is enjoying a lot of traffic in their booth this week. More it’s because CAST and Beyond Semiconductor have chosen this time and place to announce yet another member of their family of 32-bit processor cores targeting embedded applications.
January 24th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
Sometimes life gets away from you. You post a blog lamenting too little coverage of IP at DATE and DAC, receive in response a number of lively emails, and then sit on all of it because life’s gotten away from you. Among those emails is a telling note from the folks at IPextreme offering to send you some marketing materials they claim is relevant to your thesis about IP, EDA, and conference-coverage disconnects. You accept their offer, but because life is still getting away from you, when the big white envelope from IPextreme arrives, it sits in the InBox, ignored and unopened.
Finally the moment arrives when you can no longer allow life to get away. You open the envelope, examine the contents, stagger back in amazement, and after muttering omg several times, sit down to write this blog. Xena, IPextreme’s Warrior Princess, the Graphic Novel & Morality Play will be ignored no more. As you flip through the pages – all 36 of them – you take another sip of wine and wonder why other companies have been ignoring not just Xena, but all she represents.
January 10th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
EDAC’s January 7th MSS release details EDA/SIP earnings in Q3_2012, and attributes $423 million to SIP companies out of a total $1,620 billion for the combined industries. The same document cites EDA/SIP earnings in Q3_2011, and attributes $410 million to SIP companies out of a total $1,544 billion for the combined EDA/IP industries that EDAC represents.
In other words, and ironically, more than 25% of the revenues reported by the EDA Consortium’s Market Statistics Service are attributed to SIP companies, organizations who work in silicon intellectual property. And why is this ironic? Because if you thoroughly search both the DATE 2013 and DAC 2013 websites, you will find far less than 25% of the content there is dedicated to the topics of SIP, its development or utilization.
January 3rd, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena
For the first time ever, organizers of the International Electron Devices Meeting honored a member of their community by providing a platform for conversation about translating innovation into business success. The premier event on December 12th in San Francisco featured an hour-long, on-stage, lunch-time interview with Marvell Technology Group VP and GM of Communications and Consumer Business Weili Dai.
Ms. Dai co-founded Marvell in 1995 with her husband, Sehat Sutardja, and his brother, Pantas Sutardja. Together they have built an organization which now stands as the fifth largest fabless semiconductor company in the world, one with 7000 employees and an international clientele. If you wanted to know more about Marvell, the information’s out there in spades. If you wanted to know more about the personal story behind Marvell, however, you should have been at the IEDM Entrepreneurs Lunch on December 12th. Ms. Dai gave a compelling interview that day, providing as succinct a summary of what it takes to start and build a company as one could ever hope to hear.
The highlight was a description of how, with babe in arms, she was in the audience at the Greek Theater on the Berkeley campus watching her husband receive his PhD in EECS several decades ago. Now today, that child is himself a PhD candidate in the same school where his father earned a PhD and his mother a BS in Computer Science. Sehat Sutardja and Weili Dai have a younger son, as well, who is currently an undergraduate at Cal, also in the School of Engineering.