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.
May 15th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
Calypto Design Systems is having quite a year. First the company announced that 2013 was its highest revenue period ever; then they announced that new offices have been opened in Korea; and most recently, Calypto named long-time EDA exec Mark Milligan as Vice President of Marketing. Previously, Milligan served as VP of Marketing at CoWare and VirtualLogix, VP of Marketing for Functional Verification at Synopsys, and VP of Corporate Marketing at SpringSoft before it was acquired by Synopsys.
Given this level of activity, it was interesting to sit down recently and talk in person with Calypto CEO Sanjiv Kaul, an articulate and energetic spokesman for the company. We started with Cadence’s recent purchase of Forte Design Systems.
Kaul said, “Cadence bought Forte because high-level synthesis is going mainstream, and we think we are well positioned to take advantage of that. Integration between Catapult C [Calypto’s HLS synthesis tool, acquired from Mentor Graphics in 2011] and our Formal tool is what the market needs today.”
May 1st, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
Two things happened as a result of falling and breaking my right arm early on the morning of April 19th in Monterey: I instantly became a ‘Lefty’ for the first time in my life, and I missed Warren Savage’s presentation at EDPS later that day.
Warren is CEO and President of IPextreme, and I kid you not when I say that what he doesn’t know about the IP industry isn’t worth knowing. That’s why I wanted to hear Warren’s talk, and why I was very happy to talk to him this week about my Dick Tracy keychain project.
How do I learn to be a knowledgeable customer of the IP industry, I asked Warren, particularly when my hypothetical wearable is something I could really use right now: An SoC-based gadget, built with oodles of IP, to wear on my left wrist that’s got one small button to remotely unlock my car, one that will start my car, one that will open or close the garage door, one that will tell me if I’ve got enough milk in the fridge, one that will turn the heat up and down at home even if I’m not there, and prosaically, one that will show me the time.
Of course, now that I can’t use my right hand to push the buttons on the device strapped to my left wrist, I no longer want buttons. I want the thing to respond to voice commands – “Unlock.” “Ignition.” “Garage.” “Got milk?” “Set temp.” “Time?” – simple instructions that should only produce results when it’s my voice and nobody else’s.
Warren was extremely informative during our phone call. He understood I wasn’t looking for specific help with my design, but how to shop for the IP to go into my design. I started by telling him that my research into IP has so far included conversations with:
To further clarify the information gleaned from these people, my questions for Warren were very succinct, as were his answers.
April 24th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
This week, Cadence announced its intention to acquire Jasper Design Automation. The news precipitated a tsunami of commentary, some of which is included in this blog: Atrenta’s Piyush Sancheti deems the move to be a good one; Cadence’s Craig Cochran and Michal Siwinski second the motion; and Elmer, whose clairvoyance regarding a Jasper acquisition was criticized by Oz Levia last fall, asks if the Cadence move is more a matter of window dressing. Finally, I offer a brief prediction regarding one possible long-term effect of this M&A.
April 10th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
Several weeks ago, I had a chance to speak by phone with the folks of S3, a multinational IP vendor and engineering company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. Darren Hobbs, Director of Product Strategy for the Silicon Business Unit, was on the call, as was Dermot Barry, Vice President of the Silicon Business Unit.
Our conversation centered on two topics: a new ADC just released by S3, and my hypothetical design project, the Dick Tracy keychain. It was morning in California when we spoke, but closing in on dinner time in Ireland. Hobbs and Barry were patient with my questions, nonetheless.
Per Hobbs, “We want to talk today about our latest product, a high-speed ADC and one of the most efficient [in the marketplace]. This announcement has produced a lot of headlines, but we want to drill into what it all really means. The specs we are using here is performance per milliwatt. We harp on that, because it’s really critical today. Typically, what’s said with a launch like this is that it [processes so many bits at a particular speed], but that doesn’t really indicate the performance of an ADC.
“What we’re doing here is putting our necks on the line by saying instead what our efficiency is – a very, very small ADC when manufactured at 40 nanometers, just .09 square millimeters, and only consuming 6 milliwatts of power. It’s efficient in the order of 31 femtojoules [10-15 joules], which means for handsets that use 802.11ac, you get very high energy efficiency.”
March 20th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
Thanks to a lot of hard work and perseverance on the part of various thought leaders in the IP industry – folks like Mike McNamara, Warren Savage, McKenzie Mortensen, Clark Chen, Devin Persaud, Tiffany Sparks, Yervant Zorian, and Farzad Zarrinfar – at last, IP has become an anchor tenant at DAC.
A situation that’s been far too long in coming, given that these days there are approximately 30 companies in the EDA industry, but upwards of 500 in IP. The fact is, if DAC didn’t make itself available to showcase an industry with 10x more possible exhibitors than EDA, where’s the future of the conference anyway?
I had a chance to speak with ‘Mac’ McNamara on Tuesday of this week about the IP Initiative he’s heading up for DAC 2014. [The others on the list above are on the committee.] Mac’s a legend in the EDA community based on his expertise and leadership roles at Chronologic, SureFire, Verisity and Cadence, where he headed up the company’s C-to-Silicon Compiler and Virtual Systems Platform. Mac left Cadence in 2012, and has served since then as CEO of Adapt IP, an IP startup that boasts both John Sanguinetti and Lucio Lanza on its board.
During our conversation, Mac said that anyone planning on attending the Design Automation Conference this June in San Francisco will want to be there on Monday, June 2nd. That is, anyone who’s interested in the IP industry.
February 27th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
It makes it worthwhile to show up for work on days when you get to have a conversation with people like the folks of Sonics, a System IP vendor based in Silicon Valley. Articulate and knowledgeable, they have a nuanced understanding of how the IP business works, its challenges and opportunities.
When I spoke to them last week about my ongoing project to assemble IP for the chip in my Dick Tracy keychain, President & CEO Grant Pierce and VP of Operations Raymond Brinks were both on the call. We started by talking about how IP is priced.
Per Pierce: “The conditions under which various customers buy and use IP can be quite different. We have some customers who are fairly sophisticated. We sell [such customers] licensed IP, offer some initial training, and then off they go. After that, apart from an occasional email, we have little contact with them. There are customers, however, who are opposite in the extreme.
February 13th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
At last month’s DesignCon in Santa Clara, I went looking for some IP advice to help in assembling the bits and pieces for my Dick Tracy key chain/wristband design project. I got no farther than the CAST booth, because those guys had answers to all of my questions.
After an hour-long conversation with CEO Hal Barbour, COO Nikos Zervas, and PR & Media Rep Paul Lindemann, I’m quite sure no IP company, small and large, could be better at partnering with a product team looking for IP selection guidance.
We first discussed the processor core; CAST sells an 8-bit family and a 32-bit. After listening to the features required in my product – keyless entry and ignition for the car, remote control of the garage door, monitoring the amounts of milk in the fridge, and telling the time – the CAST guys said an 8-bit core would provide sufficient horsepower for the sensing, calculation and control features I described, even in the face of the mixed-signal, ADC demands of the product.
They also noted that the 8051 is by far CAST’s most popular core and useful to people working on Internet-of-Things ideas, particularly if WiFi features are not needed. With WiFi, a 32-bit processor probably makes better sense.
I asked about a price point for the core I would use. From research I’ve been doing in anticipation of my Dick Tracy design, I know that prices for IP cores are usually as closely guarded as Edward Snowden’s forwarding address. Hal Barbour said that CAST has always been pretty open about that: “Depending on the configuration, our 8-bit core will cost you somewhere between $30, 000 and $50,000.”
January 15th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
It’s clear that these are heady days in EDA and IP. The numbers have been up and to the right for a number of quarters now and everybody’s feeling good about things, including Mentor Graphics CEO Wally Rhines. He was doing the rounds last week talking up EDAC’s Market Statistics Service report on the industry for Q3_2013; the report was published this week on Tuesday.
On my phone call with Rhines I found him exuberant, so I started with a comment to which Rhines was not allowed to respond; he was speaking for EDAC in that conversation and not for his own organization. “Wow,” I said. “Mentor is really doing stupendously if your stock valuations are any indication, up over 40 percent in the last year.”
Rhines said nothing, but did chuckle, so I continued: “Wow again, then, for the overall EDA and IP industries. Having said that, I’ve noticed – perhaps not for the first time – that Synopsys does not officially submit numbers for these quarterly MSS updates. What’s up with that?”
January 9th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
Since the ginormous Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week is widely touted as the biggest event since the invention of humankind, it’s hard to admit two things: a) I wasn’t there, and yet b) I’ve been asked to compose a blog about it. Somewhat of a challenge, but not an insurmountable one.
To attend to the task at hand, I slogged through the blogosphere to see what people who were there this week had to say about it all, after knocking in and around the largest conference on the planet.
Turns out their take-aways are pretty consistent: Among the 3000+ exhibitors, there were more toys on display than you could play with in a month of Sundays, drones are everywhere and somewhat creepy, TVs are getting bigger, electric cars are getting more so, everything’s wearable, and the only things left that are truly private and un-recordable in the mania of this digital age are your thoughts, and those are probably under assault in an evil lab somewhere. [Note to self: don’t sell them for a penny.]
Another way to approach CES, if you blog about EDA and IP, is to go to the roster of EDAC and see who on that list was exhibiting this week in Las Vegas. The results are rather surprising – only ARM and Cadence.
January 1st, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
As proposed last month in this space, I’m designing an SOC-based product that involves utilizing off-the-shelf IP. My whimsical design target is a wrist-based device that provides keyless entry and ignition for the car, control of the garage door opener, the ability to turn up/down the heat in the house remotely, and notification if we’re running low on milk. Oh yeah, and it will tell me the time.
To develop this product I need various reliable types of IP, including several processor cores, some memory, wireless connectivity design blocks, an oscillator and PLL for keeping time, a USB port for recharging, ADCs and DACs, and a bus of some kind to tie it all together. That’s just for starters, but it’s enough to prompt an online shopping trip comparable to the one described in my earlier blog about the hunt for ‘blocks of IP’ for the new bathroom installation currently underway at my house.
First and rather prosaically, I typed “what’s in an SOC” into Google. That query led me to Wikipedia, which led me to choose the list of IP described above. Naturally, your work is so much more sophisticated a process than this, but nonetheless the query allowed me to decide which pieces of semiconductor IP to go looking for. After all, the point of this exercise isn’t to design a ‘real’ chip, but to shop online for SIP and see what’s what.