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.

#52DAC: Rumors & Realities

 
June 11th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

It’s always hard to capture the spirit of any particular trade show/tech conference when it’s as large as DAC. So here’s just a small sample of the rumors and realities being bandied about at Moscone Center this week in San Francisco.

* Rumor: The Exhibit Hall ran until 7 pm on Wednesday night, so if you wanted to see the bagpipes close out the show, you could see it if you arrived at the Cadence booth by 6:45 pm.

* Reality: The Exhibit Hall closed at 6 pm on Wednesday, not 7 pm as on Monday and Tuesday. The bagpipes closed out the show, but at 6 pm, not 7 pm. Those who missed it were very, very sad.

* Rumor: DAC’s Exhibition Hall has shrunk so much over the last few years, it’s no longer going to be housed at Moscone Center. After next year’s DAC 2016 in Austin, the show’s headed to the San Jose Convention Center in 2017.

* Reality: Moscone Center is being renovated over the next several years, so DAC’s going to be in Austin in 2016, in Austin in 2017, and (probably) back in San Francisco in 2018.

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CEDA Nerd Fest @ DAC: Expanding the Reach of DA

 
June 11th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Most mortals at the end of the day on Monday this week in San Francisco polished off their beers on the DAC Exhibit Hall floor at 7 pm and headed out for dinner and some R&R to prepare for the rigors of Tuesday. For those truly passionate about the future of Design Automation, however, Monday’s labors did not end at 7 pm. They had only begun.

Because in Room 300 from 7 pm to 8 pm, a series of visionary talks were offered — not one of them more than 3 minutes long — each proposing a different direction that the highly skilled DA community might take this industry by capitalizing on its vast expertise in optimization, algorithms, and hardware/software co-design. It was a great hour of presentations, which by the way was also a contest, complete with a panel of judges who got to choose the top three proposals and award cash prizes.

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Fulfilling Marie Pistilli’s Dream: Dignity, Opportunity for Women in DA

 
June 11th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Something special happened Wednesday night this week at DAC, something magical in fact. Dozens of highly educated Design Automation professionals gathered for an intimate dinner in a private dining room at Kuleto’s on Powell Street in San Francisco for a first-time event.

Sponsored by the DAC EC and hosted by Dr. Soha Hassoun, Computer Science Department Chair at Tufts University in Boston, and Dr. Patrick Groeneveld, Synopsys Scientist and former CTO at Magma Design Automation, attendees included EE/CS professors from around the world, numerous post-doctoral fellows and PhD candidates, several 2015 Richard Newton Scholarship winner, as well as multiple design professionals from some of the largest commercial enterprises in EDA.

As attendees arrived, energized and/or exhausted from a long day at Day Three of DAC, Dr. Hassoun welcomed the gathering warmly and asked that people choose their seats carefully for the meal about to be served: Please do not sit next to anyone you already know!

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Black Magic Woman to Bobby McGee: Fiddling into the night as Rome burns

 
June 9th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

After a long day concentrating at DAC, it’s odd to spend the early hours of the evening at a DAC party. So much noise, loud music, silly carryings-on, when all one wants to do really is compose an essay about the impressions of the day.

So how about a compromise. Sit on the edge of the dance floor and write. Glass of lovely Sauvignon Blanc, plate of shrimp, an egg roll or two. It’s sorta like being in a coffee shop, but louder. Back in the day, Carlos Santana dated a high school friend of mine. Black Magic Woman, indeed. It’s like writing in a coffee shop called Time Warp.

So the point of this essay is specific. To capture as accurately as possible a thesis expressed to me an hour ago when I first came into this Love IP Party at Jillian’s, a pool and pub venue just across from Moscone Center. This particular Anonymous Source has seen everything in the EDA industry. Literally. And knows everyone. Literally. No joking.

His thesis? EDA (as we knew it) is over. Not dead, but over. Unequivocally.

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#52DAC Day Zero: Ten Astonishing Bits

 
June 7th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Omygosh, DAC’s here again! Has it already been a year? Apparently yes, and apparently once again the Design Automation Conference is going to be great. And how does one know? Because once again the DAC Executive Committee is great, lead in 2015 by the more-than-capable Anne Cirkel (Mentor’s own). Everything from academia to industry, from networking to hard-core learning (read, ‘Nerd Alert!)’, from food and libation to product announcements: DAC is always special.

So today is Sunday, which in the world of DAC is a lovely day full of workshops for those interested in the newest, and social opportunities for those interested in the noshing and nattering. Sunday is also lovely, because it’s a moment for astonishing realizations, and this year’s 52nd DAC Sunday is no different. Here are my 10 favs:

10 – Per Stanford’s Philip Wong speaking in Workshop 2, carbon nanotubes are smooth which helps with mobility-restricting surface roughness and band-gap issues. Also CNTs are no longer “a bowl of spaghetti” when manufactured. Now they’re 99% orderly and courteously aligned. (read, ‘Is asking about the other 1% a legitimate question?’)

9 – EDA’s own Karen Bartleson of SNPS fame, has not only just completed 2 years of distinguished service as President of IEEE’s worldwide Standards Organization, she’s now been nominated to serve as President of the Whole Enchilada; Bartleson’s running for President of the IEEE itself. In a word, Wow!

8 – Design Automation Summer School, for those who have not been keeping up (read, ‘me’), is no longer a week-long confab in July. These days Summer School is a one-day event on DAC Sunday. Still highly attended and full of pithy content for The Young & The Restless in EDA.

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Tortuga Logic: Expect the Unexpected

 
May 26th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

If you’re a Spanish speaker, the first image that comes to mind when someone says tortuga is a slow-moving animal in a shell. Alternatively, if you’re a kid at heart and love pirates, the first image that comes to mind when someone says Tortuga is Johnny Depp sashaying around the Caribbean channeling Keith Richards.

If you work in EDA and/or use EDA tools, however, now a new image should come to mind when someone says tortuga: The image of a secure, buttoned-down design that’s impervious to harm, malicious intent, or even too much eye-liner (for the Depp/Richards fans out there).

Because a new company has just come up over the horizon: Tortuga Logic.

Built on IP developed by like-minded thinkers at U.C. San Diego and Santa Barbara, Tortuga hopes to change the way the world deals with security issues — which, by the way, is an even bigger problem today than it was back when Captain Jack Sparrow was wreaking havoc on the Spanish Main.

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EDAC’s Perfect Storm: Cataclysmic Changes, Music to Wine

 
May 14th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

There’s a perfect storm currently underway at the EDA Consortium based in Silicon Valley. First of all, after twenty years of distinguished service to the organization, the last ten as Executive Director, Robert Gardner is retiring. His leadership and talents will be sorely missed, as an industry expert and organizational wizard, and as as accomplished musician providing endless hours of sophisticated entertainment at countless EDAC events. Uniquify’s Bob Smith, himself an accomplished, well-known player in the EDA industry, has been tapped to take over for Gardner. [See our conversation below …]

Second of all, for the first time the consortium has two individuals serving simultaneously as chairman: Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan and PDF Solutions President & CEO John Kibarian. Although previously active on the board, neither of these gentlemen has served as EDAC co-Chair; all signs suggest that their joint efforts, and fortuitous synergy of design and manufacturing, are promoting fresh sensibilities and renewed commitments to collegiality across the EDAC membership.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, IP is the new black in EDA. When the consortium was initiated in the last millennium, the membership really was all about electronic design automation. Today, many ‘generations’ later, the name of the game in semiconductor design is reuse and third-party IP. And it’s in that spirit that both Sonics President & CEO Grant Pierce and ARM CEO Simon Segars are currently serving on the consortium’s Board of Directors, along with EDA stalwarts Mentor’s Wally Rhines, Synopsys’ Aart de Geus, IC Manage’s Dean Drako, and Atrenta’s Ajoy Bose.

And so the world turns: The EDA Consortium is undergoing profound changes, and in so doing reflects the evolutionary cataclysm overtaking the entire semiconductor design and manufacturing supply chain.

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PCB Tools, Part 1: Zuken, Mentor, Cadence, Altium

 
April 30th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Board design is evolving quickly: The vendors who sell CAD tools to the people who design boards are working hard these days to keep up with the changing needs of their customers. That’s the unqualified conclusion I came away with after a number of phone calls over the last several weeks with the four of the biggest companies in the PCB design-tool industry: Zuken, Mentor Graphics, Cadence, and Altium.

These conversations were not only interesting, they were inspiring as well. The folks I talked to have been in the industry for a long time, and have a seasoned and intelligent understanding of the evolution of board designers and the tools that support their efforts. Here are the people I spoke with for this lengthy article:

Zuken: Bob Potock, VP Marketing; Humair Mandavia, Executive Director, SOZO Center
Mentor Graphics: Dave Wiens, PCB division business development
Cadence: Hemant Shah, Product Management Group Director
Altium: Dave Reed, Director of Product Marketing

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Moore’s Law @ 50: Will it never end?

 
April 22nd, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

If there’s something missing in your personal or professional knowledge of Moore’s Law, you should have spent 5 hours at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View on April 17, 2015, although even then you might not have learned anything new. For people in technology, seriously, what more is there to know?

The ‘law’, penned by Gordon Moore and published in an Electronics article on April 19, 1965, was based on his many years’ experience in the nascent-to-ferocious semiconductor industry, and has since been interpreted, re-interpreted, mis-interpreted, and zealously lionized – both the law and the man – over the last 50 years. Which brings us back to April 17th and the 3-part program at the CHM.

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Dr. Rhines: EDA’s charm & intelligence reflected in Q4_2014

 
April 13th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

 

Quarterly, as many of you know, the Market Statistics Service of the EDA Consortium reports out on the health of the industry. Quarterly, as well, Mentor CEO Dr. Walden Rhines makes himself available to the Press, to comment and elaborate on the EDAC results.

And so it was last Friday that I had a chance, yet again, to speak by phone with Rhines, always a conversation to look forward to. If you want to know how the EDA industry did in Q4_2014, you can scroll to the bottom of this blog. If you want to read a paraphrased snapshot of a wide-ranging discussion with Wally Rhines, however, it follows here.

WWJD – This debriefing thing must be quite tedious. How’s it going, and how’s EDA doing?

Rhines – This is only my second Press meeting, so not bad. The EDA industry [booked] record revenues for the fourth quarter of 2014, and the entire year, and showed a substantially higher rate of return than the semiconductor industry. The industry’s doing very well, with hiring up 6 percent on the year, and strong reporting from companies in IP and physical design and verification. There is some weakness in the numbers out of Japan, but they were offset by strong results in the PacRim and the Americas.

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