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 The Breker Trekker

Archive for April, 2016

Catching Up with Portable Stimulus

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Ever since Accellera started the Portable Stimulus Working Group (PSWG), this emerging technology has generated a lot of buzz both within the EDA industry and among our semiconductor and systems customers. As the pioneer in this technology we get a lot of questions about what portable stimulus is, why it is different from the Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) and other established approaches, and why anyone would need it.

We’ve devoted quite a few posts to this topic in The Brekker Treker blog, stretching back two years to when Accellera first set up a proposed working group (PWG) to survey the industry and decided whether standardization of portable stimulus was feasible and desirable. Given the many posts scattered throughout the past two years, we thought that we would take this opportunity to give readers new to this topic a guided tour of the information that we have available.

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Designers and Verification Engineers: Living in Different Worlds Together

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

As I discussed at last week, there are many different engineering roles involved in the development of a large, complex semiconductor device. The EDA industry attempts to serve nearly all of these groups, from the architects and product marketing engineers who dream up the new ideas to the technicians who test production parts on the factory floor. Today I’m focusing on the work of two of EDA’s most traditional customer bases: hardware designers and hardware verification engineers.

Perhaps I’d better explain my title. It comes from an old expression “we went to different schools together” that I remember hearing as a youngster. Sometimes this refers to two people who didn’t actually attend the same school but who are nevertheless longtime close friends. But I’ve also heard it used to refer to two people who did in fact go to school together but had very different experiences. This latter context is the one I have mind for design and verification engineers who work on the same project yet inhabit different worlds.

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EDAC Expands Its Scope but Misses an Opportunity

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

I expect that the activities of the EDA Consortium (EDAC), our industry’s main trade organization, are followed more closely by EDA vendors than users. However, some of you may have seen the recent publicity surrounding the organization’s name change to the Electronic System Design Alliance (ESDA). I applaud this move because it reflects the gradual but ongoing merger of EDA and embedded systems, a topic that we have covered here on The Breker Trekker in the past.

However, I do have two reservations about the specifics of the name change. First, as some people have pointed out, “ESD” is strongly associated with “electrostatic discharge” for us engineers who have worked on actual lab benches and not just in the world of abstract EDA models. But that’s a minor quibble as far as I’m concerned. My bigger issue is that EDAC did not use the name change as a chance to expand from “design” to “development” in its description of scope. Please continue reading as I expand a bit on all three of these points.

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Merger Mania and the Still-Changing Semiconductor Landscape

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

We try to cover a variety of topics hereĀ  in The Breker Trekker blog, focusing on technical information but mixing in some general industry analysis as well. Two of our most popular posts of all time have involved the annual semiconductor supplier rankings from IHS, Inc. and the large amount of semiconductor industry merger and acquisition (M&A) activity over the last few years. IHS released their 2015 results yesterday, so it’s time for an update on both of these topics.

Let’s start by catching up on the M&A front. When we last covered this topic in January, the acquisition of Freescale by NXP and the acquisition of Altera by Intel had both just completed late last year. These closed in time to be reflected in the 2015 supplier rankings. There were several other deals from 2015 that were still pending and, while some of them have now closed, their effects will not be seen until the 2016 results are in.

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