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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
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.

DAC 2018: New venue, Fresh start, Great leadership

 
October 11th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


After two years in Austin, the Design Automation Conference is returning to San Francisco
for two good reasons: The City’s Moscone Convention Center has been thoroughly remodeled since DAC’s last visit in 2015 – enlarged, reworked, modernized – and the industries that fuel DAC – electronic design automation, system design, IP, and embedded systems – have a powerful and historic presence in Silicon Valley, a where place many in these disciplines work and live.

Hence June 2018 will witness a glamorous return to the Bay Area for DAC, and all its stakeholders, not the least being next year’s General Chair and Notre Dame CSE Professor, Dr. X. Sharon Hu.

In a recent phone call, Hu said it’s particularly exciting to be coming back to San Francisco, because the City is one of her favorite venues.

In preparation for DAC in 2018 and to similarly enhance anticipation for her Executive Committee – that group of hard-working volunteers who work the magic each year bringing DAC to fruition – Hu recently hosted a team building exercise here in 2017 in the just-reopened Moscone West portion of the massive complex. The group made sushi, and with pictures of the cook-off trending on Twitter, she laughed when I asked how it all went.

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C-Sky Microsystems: Big Dreams and a 100-year Vision

 
October 5th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Hangzhou C-SKY Microsystems
, a 32-bit CPU vendor, became a member of the ESD Alliance in 2016 and was described at the time as “the first IP company from China to join.”

Founded in 2001, C-Sky has “developed 7 types of embedded CPUs covering a wide range of embedded applications including smart devices in IoT, digital audio and video, information security, network and communications, industrial control and automotive electronics. It is the only embedded CPU volume provider in China with its own instruction set architecture, the Yun-on-Chip architecture developed in conjunction with Alibaba.”

C-Sky is a growing IP company serving an enormous market. I spoke recently by phone with Dr. Xiaoning Qi, CEO at C-Sky, who was in California attending meetings. No stranger to Silicon Valley, he previously served at Intel, Rambus, Synopsys, and Sun, after completing his Ph.D. under Prof. Robert Dutton at Stanford.

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Sage: Who Checks the Checkers?

 
September 28th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Sage Design Automation offers iDRM
– integrated design rule management – a “true design rule compiler that enables quick graphical capturing of design rules and uses them as executable expressions for Specification, Communication, Validation, DRC, Analysis, Deck validation and coverage, and DRC deck generation.”

But this is not about Sage, it’s about how Sage fits into an evolving industry from the point of view of Raul Camposano, EDA veteran, former CTO at Synopsys, and currently CEO at Sage. Like so many serving in leadership roles in the industry, Dr. Camposano is a man of good cheer and an optimistic observer.

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

 
September 14th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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

 
September 7th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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

 
August 31st, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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

 
August 24th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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?

 
August 3rd, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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

 
July 26th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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

 
July 20th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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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CST: Webinar series
DownStream: Solutions for Post Processing PCB Designs
TrueCircuits: UltraPLL



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