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.

Andrew Kahng: Modeling the Future of Semiconductors (and Test)

September 30th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena


Andrew Kahng is Professor of CSE and ECE at UC San Diego, and former General Chair at DAC, ISQED, and ISPD. As such, he knows what people who attend conferences need to hear. Next week he’s taking that knowledge to IEEE’s International Test Conference in Anaheim, delivering a keynote entitled: Modeling the Future of Semiconductors (and Test).

The question is, why is test an afterthought in the keynote title when test is never an afterthought in the flow required to get from design to volume manufacturing? One good guess would be because the world still thinks test is an afterthought, evidenced loud and clear by the fact that a conference on test lives as a separate entity from DAC, ISQED, or ISPD.

But again, how can test represent a set of ideas and disciplines sufficiently disconnected from design to live in its own silo? The answer is, test is not disconnected from design, but it does rely on a completely separate set of skills than design.

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Automotive Security: Oops, far more complex than we thought

September 24th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena


On a road trip with colleagues this week in Europe, driving about in a diesel-powered auto, it is with no small amount of interest that we have followed the news out of the U.S. regarding recently discovered emissions-reporting irregularities for diesel-engined VWs and Audis.

At the core of the alleged scheme is a cunning software construct that knows when the diesel engine should behave according to EPA regulations – in other words, when it’s being tested – and alternatively knows how to rev up engine performance by allowing emissions way in excess of allowed limits – in other words, when the car is being driven between testing sessions.

Whether you follow engineering, automotive engineering, the global automotive market (and stock valuations), or even international relations, you know that this story about VW is a complex one. And not one that is making anyone happy: Neither the company, nor the millions of owners of the vehicles involved, nor the governments and agencies in various geographies impacted by the revelations, nor the many whose health may be have been compromised by emissions that might have otherwise been avoided.

However, that’s not the point of this blog; the point here is one of situational irony.

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Dream Catcher: Synopsys’ FPGA-based Prototyping

September 17th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena


This week, Synopsys announced its HAPS-80 FPGA-based prototyping systems, which  the company says “delivers up to 100 MHz multi-FPGA performance and high-speed time-domain multiplexing technology.”

Johannes Stahl, Synopsys Director of Product Marketing for Prototyping, told me in a phone call related to the announcement that when it comes to physical prototyping, “things are breaking.” Which is why, per Stahl, Synopsys is fulfilling the dreams of its customer base with these new HAPS-80 systems, fully integrated systems that address the biggest problems in prototyping.

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2015 Kaufman Award: Dr. Walden C. Rhines

September 9th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena


This week, the EDA Consortium and the IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation announced Dr. Walden C. Rhines as recipient of the 2015 Phil Kaufman Award, the EDA industry’s highest commendation for contributions to the business and technology of tools for electronic design automation.

Per the Press Release: “Dr. Rhines is being recognized for growing the EDA and IC design industries through his efforts as a leading voice of EDA and for pioneering the evolution of IC design to SoCs design.”

EDAC Executive Director Robert Smith is quoted in the Press Release, acknowledging Rhines having serving as EDAC Board Chair five different times: “Dr. Rhines has helped drive EDAC to a position of leadership, creating a mechanism for the EDA industry to grow and address common issues. He has worked tirelessly to promote EDA as a key enabler, driving the growth of the worldwide semiconductor industry as well.”

Paul Cohen, Chair of EDAC’s Market Statistics Services, is also quoted, acknowledging Rhines’ energetic, quarterly efforts to publicize and explain – for the benefit of analysts and press alike – the ebb and flow of the EDA industry: “Dr. Rhines was involved from the beginning with the quarterly EDAC Market Statistics Services, [which is] based on detailed revenue numbers voluntarily reported in confidence by public and private EDA, semiconductor intellectual property and design service companies. Rhines remains a strong advocate of the program as it approaches its 20th year.”

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Alain Labat: Harvest Management Partners in the Driver’s Seat

September 3rd, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena


Alain Labat, the former President & CEO of VaST Systems, told me on a phone call this week that his story, in a way, is very simple: “When we got acquired by Synopsys in 2010, 5 years ago now, our management and investors clearly saw an opportunity to start our own investment bank and advisory company, so that’s what we did.

“We believed then, and still believe, that if you need a big bank from New York or a huge amount of money [to begin your enterprise], the right people are the Goldman Sachs or the other Wall Street guys. But for a technology-based company, you need something different.

“And so, at the advice of our investors, we started Harvest Management Partners specifically for those companies who need something different. Coming from VaST as we did, with a great deal of true operational experience, we felt we could offer much-needed guidance to those companies who were not a good fit for Wall Street.

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Camposano & Zelnik: Sage-DA promotes EDA Evangelism

August 27th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena


Blogs are a dime-a-dozen, but you’re going to want to read this one if you want to know why distinguished veterans of EDA continue to evangelize for the viability and vitality of the industry.

On a phone call this week with Raul Camposano, newly-minted CEO of Sage Design Automation, and Coby Zelnik, President and Co-founder of the company, the point was driven home repeatedly: There’s as much of a future in EDA as there is a past, no matter what the current demographics may imply. Evolving demand in the CAD-tool marketplace means EDA companies will continue to emerge to meet that demand.

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Kaufman Award: My vote goes to Wally

August 20th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena


As you all know, the Kaufman Award is presented every 12 to 18 months by the EDA industry, with support from the EDA Consortium and the IEEE Council on EDA.

Year in and year out, an individual from industry or academia is honored for providing a “demonstrable impact on electronic design through contributions in the field of EDA,” an impact in business, or industry direction and promotion, or technology and engineering, or education and mentoring.

Based on those parameters, in recent years we’ve seen luminaries such as Dr. Lucio Lanza, Dr. Chenming Hu, Dr. C.L. Liu, Mr. Pat Pistilli, Dr. Randy Bryant, and Dr. Aart de Geus receive this highly coveted commendation in reflection of their hard work, innovation, and dedication to EDA.

Now the fall of the year is upon us, and even though there is no date as yet posted to the EDAC website to indicate which day and hour in November this year’s Kaufman Award will be presented, or to whom, it’s a good guess the info will not be long in coming. It’s my hope that when the news does break, the answer will be Dr. Walden C. Rhines.

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Groeneveld & Steinhorst: Optimizing the tech-nomics of EVs

August 5th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena


If you live in or near Silicon Valley, you’re fully aware of what a Tesla Model S looks like. They’re everywhere, gliding along silently, leaving behind a wake of enormous marketing cache.

My driving costs are lower than yours are, because I drive a Tesla. My carbon footprint is smaller than yours is, because I drive a Tesla. I’m hip and modern, because I drive a Tesla, so get outta my way. I own a) this parking space, b) the right-of-way at this intersection, c) this lane on the freeway, and d) the right to glare at you if you think you’ve got the right to a, b, or c.

Okay, perhaps a little overstated, but I’ll bet you’ve seen some version of this phenomenon. Yet, had you attended the single, most information rich session at DAC 2015 in San Francisco, you would have learned that a lot of the street cred claimed by Tesla doesn’t actually hold up to close, tech-nomic scrutiny.

On Monday, June 8th, Synopsys’ Patrick Groeneveld and TUM Create’s Sebastian Steinhorst offered a lengthy tutorial [“Electric Vehicles – What’s in it for the EDA Folks?”] during which they blew away the feel-good haze that surrounds EV ownership and revealed numerous harder truths instead.

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Means, Motives, Opportunity: why TSMC should buy Cadence, the Reunion Tour

July 30th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena


It’s been 10 years since I first explained why TSMC should buy Cadence. Now a decade on, many things have changed in the world and many have not.

Among the things that have not changed? TSMC still should buy Cadence.

Means …

First of all, let’s look at the numbers (per Yahoo Financials re: 2014):

* Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

Employees: 43,500
Market Cap: $166.44 billion
Revenue: $27.31 billion
Operating margin: 39.26%
Net income: $9.70 billion
Total Cash: $16.61 billion on $7.40 billion in debt

* Cadence Design Systems Inc.

Employees: 6,100
Market Cap: $6.14 billion
Revenue: $1.61 billion
Operating margin: 11.23%
Net income: $161.1 million

* Conclusion

TSMC has got the means to buy Cadence.

By a long shot.

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PDF’s Kibarian: Jedi Knight unplugged

July 23rd, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena


Luckily this week PDF Solutions announced the acquisition of Syntricity, a “provider of yield-improvement technologies and services for the IC process life cycle. Syntricity’s dataConductor platform is a comprehensive, enterprise-wide yield management system that leverages a thin-client architecture to provide a cloud-based SaaS or distributed enterprise solution, allowing users to access their data anytime, anywhere.”

That news gave me a chance to attend to a long-overdue task: Compose a blog based on a lengthy interview with PDF co-founder and CEO John Kibarian conducted in the lobby of the DoubleTree in San Jose earlier this year. On that day, Kibarian and I sat in the bar at the hotel, although sadly it was mid-afternoon and the bar was not yet open.

Instead, ours was an all-business conversation that gave me a chance to learn far more about the man, the enterprise, and PDF’s newest product release, Exensio, “an enterprise-wide, Big Data platform, which analyzes and reports critical data generated across the semiconductor ecosystem”.

I last interviewed Kibarian in 2005 and labeled him then a Jedi Knight. In the intervening years, little has changed. He’s still singularly focused on the technology, and his incredible obsession with the interminable analysis of manufacturing data. Nowadays there’s also a dollop of Haiku thrown into the narrative, however, which somehow adds additional weight to the whole Jedi discipline thing. It’s a discipline based on deep understanding, patience, intuition, and the ability to learn. Indefinitely.

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