June 14th, 2012
Everybody loves the phrase, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but usually don’t remember the specifics. According to Wikipedia, the horsemen each ride a steed of a different color – white, red, black, and pale – and thunder towards us bearing apocalyptic messages of Conquest, War, Famine and Death. You know: The stuff of video games and CGI blockbusters. Ignore them and you lose.
This year at DAC, GSEDA analyst Gary Smith presented his own apocalyptic message in back-to-back presentations on Sunday evening, June 3rd, and again on Monday morning, June 4th.
Why was Smith’s message apocalyptic? Because he too had four horsemen, and they too cannot be ignored. Without them, products will fail. It’s that simple.
Smith’s horsemen are neither rapacious nor ravaging, however. Instead, they represent the methodical four-step process for co-development of hardware and software, which if done properly moves to completion in carefully controlled lock-step and produces successful results.
Replacing Apocalypse with Approximation, Gary Smith’s Four Horsemen of the Approximation represent Design Exploration (not Conquest), Making Apps (not War), Firmware (not Famine), and Sales & Marketing (not Death).
Ikutaro Kojima, editor of Nikkei’s Tech-On!, talked with ICScape at DAC about their products and their future plans for them. Here is the link and a rough translation of the article:
ICScape not likely to announce mixed-signal EDA until end of year [from DAC 2012]
Ikutaro Kojima, Tech-On!
With the 49th Design Automation Conference ready to open tomorrow, I spoke with EDA vendor ICScape Inc (which was established in 2005) about its soon-to-be introduced mixed-signal EDA system.
The company exhibited at the 2011 January EDS Fair in January 2011 here in Japan. There, ICScape introduced back-end EDA tools for large SoC designs: e.g., for multi-corner multi-mode. Those tools are 1) “TimingExplorer,” for MCMM optimization use just before timing sign-off; 2) “ClockExplorer,” used to convert clock synthesis input to existing constraints (MCMM); 3) “Skipper,” which quickly reads huge GDS-II files; and 4) “RCExplorer,” a parasitic parameter extraction tool for analog/mixed-signal IC.
In January 2011, the same month as EDSF2011, ICScape merged with China EDA vendor Huada Empyrean Software (HES), developer of RCExplorer. The remaining three products were developed by ICScape in the pre-merger period. According to President Steve Yang, the merger is ideal and there is no post-merger overlap for products or customers. In other words, ICScape was primarily in the U.S. market for digital large-scale EDA tools, while HES was primarily in the Chinese market for analog EDA tools.
Based on OpenAccess
Both toolsets share the OpenAccess database as a platform. According to Mr. Yang, the two companies are integrating their tools into a mixed-signal IC EDA toolset: “We are developing a new system for EDA (analog-digital-mixed IC). It is almost complete, and is in the customer evaluation phase currently. We expect to formally announce this toolset in the second half of 2012.”
Aiming for big analog · small digital
ICScape will officially announce an integrated analog-digital EDA system later this year. This product is for “big analog · small digital” IC designs (where the digital circuit is a small majority of the IC that is mixed in with the analog). According to Mr. Yang, “big analog · small digital IC design is handled by one designer. These designers are asking for a single system.”
Mr. Jason Xing, Vice President of Engineering, says that the key to development of the mixed-signal EDA system was the realization that digital and analog design is not separated and that it needed to be OpenAccess based.
Jason Xing and Steve Yang
NOTE: Lee PR does work for ICScape
Steve Leibson posted an article in the EDA360 Insider that reports on a panel at DAC chaired by Wally Rhines. The panel on ESL touched on the cost of IC development and Wally pointed out that the cost of software development is much higher than the one for hardware. In fact, software development costs are rising.
This should not come as a surprise to careful observers of the industry.
What is happening is that IC manufacturing costs are increasing significantly but hardware development costs have not been rising very much. Wally stated that the increase is around 10%. Re-use is the principal reason for the stability of hardware development cost. The use of standard cores, like those from ARM is so widespread that when combined with standard busses and functional blocks, most IC’s look more like standard computers than ASIC.
The 2012 Design Automation Conference, June 3rd to 7th at Moscone Center in San Francisco, hosted thousands of people. These photos capture only some of the images at the show. They were all taken with an iPad3, an odd but effective form factor for a camera, and were edited on an HP Pavilion dm3. Click on any image to see the larger version.
The YouTube videos below — Gary Smith Blues, Moscone Flags, Forte Bagpipes — were also captured with an iPad3.
This is the third in a series of blogs describing conversations with small companies that exhibited at 2012 Design Automation Conference in San Francisco, June 4th to 6th.
Since I published the Monday@DAC and Tuesday@DAC blogs, both Dan Nenni and Mike Demler have published attendance numbers for the conference. Interesting that the two sets of numbers see the same cup as either half-full or half-empty.
Per Nenni, the cup’s half-full when comparing DAC 2011 in San Diego to DAC 2012 in San Francisco: “Conference attendees were up to 1901, up 9% on last year. But exhibits only passes were way up to 2783, an increase of 39%. Even booth staff was up 11% to 2704.”
Per Demler, however, the cup’s half-empty when comparing DAC 2009 to DAC 2012, both in San Francisco: “Conference attendees remained essentially flat compared to the last San Francisco DAC, at 1,962 in 2009 versus 1,902 this year. Exhibit-only attendees dropped by nearly 20%, from 3,337 three years ago to 2,703 in 2012. It is interesting to note that Booth Staff actually increased slightly, from 2,697 to 2,704.”
Demler added: “An analysis of the DAC exhibitor list reflects many of the changes that have occurred in the industry. Fewer than 100 companies on the show floor, approximately half of the exhibitors, actually develop design tools.”
Demler also observed that PDF Solutions, a company whose CEO is on the EDAC Board, did not exhibit at DAC 2012. PDF Solutions does not consider itself a design tool company, however – see my interview with John Kibarian here – so even had the company exhibited that may not have alleviated concerns.
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