What Would Joe Do?

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.

#I’mEDAToolUser: Pay or Be Paid

 
January 15th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Let the games begin. Deep Chip has re-upped its request for tool user experiences — “your most recent EDA/FAB/FPGA/IP user horror/success story” — while at the same time SemiWiki is also asking for “honest reviews directly from the people who use the tools”.

Coincidence? Maybe, but amusing nonetheless and here’s the most amusing part: Both DeepChip and SemiWiki are willing to post tool users’ feedback as anon. That, however, is where the similarities appear to end.

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HP’s Pre-CES Parade: Gasp-worthy Electronic Gadgetry

 
January 8th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

If you’re a software developer or a hardware designer who likes to work at the beach, in the mountains, or anywhere other than in your cubicle, HP announced this week a set of products that are going to be of more than just passing interest. On Monday, the company debuted two members of its second-generation ZBook family of mobile workstations that include an impressive list of features.

The ZBook 14 and ZBook 15u come with 14-inch and 15.6-inch displays, respectively, fifth-generation Intel core processors, AMD FirePro 3D graphics, optional touch-screen displays, and 10-point multi-touch HD screen option on the ZBook 14, as well as up to 16GB of operational memory and 1.25 TB of storage to service the workstations’ HP Z Turbo Drive capability.

I saw these two mighty mites at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco in late November during an NDA Press Tour, and although journalists are sworn to skepticism, it was hard not to be impressed. These laptops are indeed “sleek and stylish” as the manufacturer says, but they’re also incredibly lightweight and sturdy.

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Winter 2015: Upcoming Conference Schedule

 
December 31st, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

 

The New Year of 2015 is upon us and the conference options are varied. Many continue the trendiest themes of 2014, innovation in cars and the IoT.


*
CES 2015 — January 6-9 — Las Vegas

Organizers describe this mega-confab as The Global Stage for Innovation. Keynoters include Intel, Samsung, Mercedes-Benz and Ford Motor Co.

* ASP-DAC 2015 — January 19-22 — Chiba/Tokyo

Presentations set to cover everything from system design to physical design, with 5 special sessions addressing the IoT, nanometer design, machine learning in EDA, ReRAM technology, and system-level design of multicore systems.

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Celebrated Headmasters: Dumbledore, Dale, Draper

 
December 18th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

 

This time of the year is awash in magic. If you want to be part of that, unlocking more of your own internal magic, you have three choices.

Numbers 1 and 2 reside in San Mateo on the outskirts of Silicon Valley, while Choice Number 3 requires you be a wizard, that you find Platform 9-3/4 at Kings Cross Station in London, take the Express Train from there to the shores of a mysterious loch in Scotland, and study for years under the tutelage of Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. An interesting experience from start to finish, no doubt, as Dumbledore is “the epitome of goodness and knows just about everything.”

At first glance, Choices 1 and 2 may not seem quite as thrilling, but they’re certainly more accessible to both muggles and wizards alike. Choice Number 1 can be found at 1700 South El Camino Real in San Mateo, Suite 100, and boasts the legendary (and late) Dale Carnegie as Honorary Headmaster. If you don’t recognize the name, here’s some help from Wikipedia: “Dale Harbison Carnegie (1888 to 1955) was an American writer and lecturer and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.”

His legacy to the American business community included numerous self-help books and a series of schools where you can still learn the skills Dale Carnegie codified: How to believe in yourself, channel your inner magic, and emerge a self-actualized leader full of confidence and vim.

If Dale Carnegie seems a bit too mid-century modern here in the 21st, or you weren’t born a wizard, then Choice Number 2 pushes far forward as the best of the three. Choice Number 2 also includes a school and a headmaster, but only requires a 6-week commitment and a few thousand dollars to produce an outcome that’s positively exhilarating compared to the calm, clean-cut cache of the Carnegie course.

Housed in an 8-story building, with classrooms at street level and dorm rooms in the floors above, Choice Number 2 is Draper University at 44 East Third Avenue in San Mateo.  The Headmaster is the founder of the Academy, Timothy Cook Draper, and believe me when I say he is neither as enigmatic as Professor Dumbledore nor as dispassionate as Dale Carnegie.

Instead, Tim Draper is straightforward, passionate about his mission, and clearly willing to risk his reputation on the idea that he can turn anyone into a hero. That his school can release the inner magic of self-confidence that produces self-actualized, aggressive, out-reaching, success-seeking, push-the-envelope heroes capable of outpacing any Hot Wizard from Hogwarts or Cool Cat from Carnegie.

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DATE 2015: Great Ideas in Grenoble

 
November 27th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

 

A recent early morning phone call to Germany to speak with DATE 2015 General Chair Wolfgang Nebel re-enforced the idea that it’s going to be a lot of fun next March in Grenoble, if your idea of fun is new ideas and exploring frontiers.

Dr. Nebel said the conference is deep into its evolution away from being a pure EDA conference with associated exhibition, and is moving instead towards being a conference focused on applications of embedded systems and microelectronics. DATE 2015 is set to reflect that change by showcasing two special-topic days, one about IoT and one about medical applications.

“This IoT thing’s been around for a long time,” I said impolitely, “but suddenly it’s got a trendy name as if it’s just been discovered. What do you think we’ll be calling it in 5 years?”

Dr. Nebel chuckled and said politely, “That requires one to be very speculative. Perhaps by then, it will be a completely connected world and we won’t need a name at all, the concept will be so ubiquitous?”

I asked which topics would be included in the special day on medical applications.

Dr. Nebel responded, “There will be sessions looking at drivers for health-care innovation in three different areas. The first will be wearable computing for medical applications, meaning sensors that people will carry around with them as part of their clothing or directly attached to their bodies. These devices present challenges of energy supply and other such things. The second area will be implantable devices into the human body, and the third area will be diagnostics supported by medical devices.”

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Zuken: Going Meta on Automotive Design

 
November 26th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Things are really heating up in automotive design and innovation. Last week, the Bosch ICCAD keynote about self-driving cars was covered here, and this week it’s Zuken’s latest automotive-related announcement regarding the launch of E3.HarnessAnalyzer and the acquisition of software IP from Intedis.

Per the company: “E3.HarnessAnalyzer complements Zuken’s automotive technology portfolio formed around the E3.series [Electrical wiring, control systems and fluid engineering software] and Cabling Designer. E3.HarnessAnalyzer, based on an existing Intedis product, is a powerful tool for viewing and analyzing harness drawings in the standard HCV container data format, which combines KBL (physical data model) and SVG (vector graphics) data. The tool supports efficient collaboration through powerful analysis, redlining, and version-compare functionality [and] provides ease-of-use for sharing comprehensive harness design models and documents with internal or external project teams.”

When I spoke to Zuken reps in Germany about all of this during a phone call in early November, my first questions were about Bosch, having just heard the ICCAD keynote that week, and Mentor Graphics, a company that’s had a foot in the auto-harness market for many years.

Reinhold Blank, Zuken Business Director for Automotive, responded promptly.

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Bosch Kibosh: Ask not what EDA can do for tomorrow’s cars

 
November 19th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Sometimes shocking news arrives quietly, like fog over the Bay. In the very first sentence of his glamorous November 3rd keynote at ICCAD in Silicon Valley, Bosch VP of Engineering Peter van Staa bluntly told his audience that EDA would “probably not” help solve the problems related to electronic designs for the cars of the future. He then spent the next 45 minutes explaining instead how Bosch would.

“Bosch is unique,” van Staa said. With 42,000 employees and 4.5 billion euros spent in 2013 alone for R&D across multiple silos – energy and building technologies, consumer goods, industrial controls, and mobile “solutions” [anything driven by an engine being a particular focus] – the Stuttgart-based company is spewing out “an invention every 25 minutes.” [Can any EDA company make such a claim?]

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Tea Leaves at ICCAD: Struggling to see the cup half-full

 
November 13th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Dreary sentiments notwithstanding from several panelists at an ICCAD evening session on November 2nd in San Jose, SRC’s Dr. Bill Joyner espoused optimism and energy for the future of EDA, even if said future doesn’t include the venerated Moore’s Law stretching off into infinity forever.

As moderator, Joyner convened the panel, “Moore’s Law is dying, EDA to the rescue!”, and turned over the podium straightaway to University of Pittsburgh’s Dr. Alex Jones for the first 20 minutes, which allowed the professor to report out on a 3-year Computing Community Consortium effort, just completed, to examine and exhume EDA from the doldrums.

The CCC’s group of 50+ academic and industry leaders have been meeting since 2012 at a series of SIGDA/CCC-funded workshops hoping to impact the future by nudging industry and academia into more productive avenues of research and development in design automation.

The report the committee published, “Workshops on Extreme Scale Design Automation (ESDA) Challenges and Opportunities for 2025 and Beyond”, was available in paper form at the back of the room during the ICCAD panel and has subsequently proved to be great reading, and fodder for a future blog. But this blog is a thumbnail sketch of the November 2nd discussion, so please read on.

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Tanner’s PDK: Pretty Darn Kool

 
October 30th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Tanner EDA is based in Monrovia, California, which already tells you something about the company. They don’t play by the expected rules in EDA, they’re not based in Silicon Valley, they’re independent-minded, customer-centric, and have a long-time commitment to interoperability and straight-forward messaging.

When I spoke by phone this week with Tanner President Greg Lebsack, I suggested that Tanner is the Madison Bumgarner of EDA – steady, delivering without fanfare, successful and consistently attributing that success to team and hard work, while also expressing respect for the competition in the league.

Lebsack chuckled at the comparison and suggested an L.A.-based pitcher would be a more appropriate Tanner totem, one that wouldn’t get him in hot water with friends and family, but if I couldn’t see past Bumgarner he would reluctantly accept the compliment.

He added, “From the founding of Tanner, we have been a company built by engineers for engineers and taking great pride in our products. Being a small company without the marketing budget of the big companies, it’s true we are a well-kept secret in EDA, but that is changing with more and more people taking notice of us.”

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CTO & Visionary: A conversation with Real Intent’s Pranav Ashar

 
October 23rd, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Dr. Pranav Ashar embodies the best of what EDA is all about these days, serving as articulate spokesman for the company’s technology, while tracking the wider view as well, the trends and future of the industry. I spoke with Dr. Ashar in early October and was impressed with his willingness to participate in an unscripted interview.

Our conversation was precipitated by Real Intent’s recent announcement of the 2014 release of its Meridian CDC product for clock-domain crossing analysis, which per the press release, adds enhanced speed, analysis and debug support for SoC and FPGA design teams, introduces a new CDC interface approach, a new way of debugging CDC violations, and a unique way to handle flat and hierarchical designs comprehensively. Dr. Ashar started our conversation by talking about the announcement.

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