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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Sorrow: like sands through the hourglass

November 19th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

The extraordinary Marie Pistilli passed away on Saturday, November 14th, six difficult weeks after sustaining profound injuries in an auto accident in early October.

News of her death came on the morning after the terrible events in Paris, and for a time it was difficult to sort out the different threads of grief and sorrow. The loss of many strangers blended with the loss of a single individual that I have admired and known personally for many years.

Now, some days later, it is clear that the world is still turning, the sun still comes up each morning and the stars are still arrayed overhead at night. The situation in Europe continues to be troubling and complex, but it is no longer layered over the emotions surrounding the loss of Marie.

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Synopsys hacked: Closes barn door, hires Mandiant

November 18th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

It’s pretty hard to believe that Synopsys has been hacked. And not just any hack, but 4 months’ worth, per the company’s own announcement, of some unauthorized ‘somebody’ having access to everything that Synopsys sells. Seriously? How could Synopsys have left the barn door open?

Consider Google. Last year in response to North Korea’s gleeful mega-hack into Sony as punishment for producing the then-not-yet-released satire, “The Interview”, the entire entertainment industry fled into their caves trembling. Very few were willing to distribute the movie because of North Korea’s proven prowess as a cyber-bully.

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Wally Rhines: just the 7th Inning Stretch

November 12th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

Joyful relief probably best describes this evening’s event at the Fourth Street Summit Center in San Jose where the glitterati of EDA gathered to honor Mentor CEO Wally Rhines with a long-overdue CEDA/EDAC-sponsored Kaufman Award. Joyful relief and a sense of delicious mischief.

One should have known something was up when the trio in the corner – during cocktails on the 7th floor overlooking scenic downtown San Jose – launched into a tango so compelling one was forced to look over to the source of the music. Surprisingly and not surprisingly, it included Bob Gardner on bass. Tango and all, the music sashayed its way through the lively mesh of conversation that defined the crowded room in that pre-dinner hour.

When enough yummy hors d’oeuvres had been consumed, and just the right amount of Jazz Cellars wine – the winemaker himself now serving as the Executive Director of EDAC – the gong sounded, doors opened at one end of the room, and huge clumps of happy revelers jostled into the adjoining hall to seek out their assigned tables and grab their chairs, all anticipating good food and great fun.

With at least 200 people in attendance, CEDA and EDAC did not disappoint. Of course, it’s hard to avoid a home run when the irrepressible Wally Rhines is at the center of the play, but this evening CEDA/EDAC delivered up something more akin to a grand slam.

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Oski Technology: Formal celebrates its Place at the Table

November 5th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

Since initiating their Decoding Formal Club in October 2013, Oski Technology has hosted this much-needed get-together every quarter, most recently on October 21st of this year at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. I was fortunate to attend the debut meeting in 2013, so it was interesting to hear from Oski VP Jin Zhang that the support group is proving valuable to the growing numbers who attend.

“The first time we held the meeting,” Zhang said, “it was by invitation only, and we included about a dozen folks. Since that first event, we have continued to use the same room at the Computer History Museum, a room that can hold up to 40 people.

“The workshop, however, is continuing to grow very nicely, so we are faced with either finding a new venue or working with the museum to arrange for a bigger room for our next meeting in the first quarter of 2016.”

Zhang said interest in the event has increased to the point that people sign up to attend as soon as the date and time are announced. “They want to be sure they’ve got a spot,” she said.

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Cars are cool: And Mentor knows it

October 28th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

Cars are cool. They’re personal transportation pods carefully crafted to the scale of the human body that zip from here to there at the discretion of the person behind the wheel. But it’s not the transportation aspect that has sold cars from the beginning of time; it’s the wow factor. A combination of metrics that take a vehicle from the ordinary to the extraordinary: provenance, make, style, workmanship, power, vintage, color, price, exclusivity.

Today, new metrics are figuring with increasing urgency into the traditional wow-factor calculus that sells cars. Things like type of power train – only hybrid and electric need apply. Bells-and-whistles infotainment systems to tell you where you are now and how to get to where you’re going, while keeping you uniquely entertained en route and caught up with your phone calls. And a host of safety features: Is your airbag functional? What nearby vehicles are trying to cut you off? Are your tires appropriately inflated? How much fuel is left if you travel at a given speed? What’s really behind you when you’re backing up?

All of these new-fangled metrics are, of course, products of the digital age – and engineering teams that need a heck-of-a-lot more sophisticated design tools than in the olden days. This week Mentor Graphics – a certifiable behind-the-scenes kingpin in the automotive supply chain scene – announced one such tool, if an embedded OS can be called a tool.

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Marie Pistilli: She’s got a ticket to ride

October 22nd, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

Matt Wood, in his poignant journaling about Marie Pistilli, is only wrong in one way: Marie is not the only one living on borrowed time, we are all living on borrowed time. We do not, however, all live on time travel time.

For that, you have to be really special. You have to be that one-in-a-zillion person who gets an invite to ride in a Time Machine. And not just any time machine, but my Time Machine!

A highly innovative craft of my own creation in which I am at the controls in the cockpit, and my carefully chosen passengers just sit back and enjoy the ride. Marie Pistilli, naturally, is among that handful of unique individuals who deserves an invite to travel in my craft, and Pat of course. Today’s destination?

1999! (As in, let’s party like it’s …)

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Simon Davidmann: EDAC must evolve on multiple fronts

October 15th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

Imperas Founder & CEO Simon Davidmann has been thinking about the EDA industry for a while, and the consortium that represents it. And like a lot of observers, he thinks change is in the air. In previous blogs, I myself have predicted that EDAC will evolve to offer better representation to IP providers, but Davidmann believes changes in the consortium will be even more dramatic.

“When EDAC was started,” Davidmann said in a recent phone call, “it was about CAD tools. But design automation has evolved from schematic layout and simulation to a point where everything is focused on really big designs. Yes, IP is a fundamental part of that evolution and companies like Synopsys have made a lot of investment in IP, so EDAC has no problem including IP in its landscape.

“But real problems today and tomorrow are about dealing with large systems on chips. Something that is moving the focus in the industry to software. Chip design is no longer just about design tools and IP, it’s about systems, and the software that runs on those platforms.

“As a consortium designed to help companies in the design automation business, therefore, EDAC has to look at not just design tools and IP. It also has to look at systems and software. An emerging technology, quickly moving into the mainstream, is virtual platforms for software development. Of course, Synopsys is investing in virtual platforms – an indication of the importance of such things in the design process.

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EDAC’s Elephants in the Room: Do Patents Promote or Prohibit?

October 7th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

If you already know that EDAC is hosting a panel in San Jose on October 29th – “Patents & Patents Litigation: Develop, Strengthen, and Protect Your Intellectual Property” – you know the participants come from a variety of backgrounds:

John Cabeca, Director of the Silicon Valley US Patent & Trademarks Office; Karna Nisewaner, Associate General Counsel at Cadence; Robert Sachs, Partner at Fenwick & West; John Vandenberg, Partner at Klarquist Sparkman; Salumeh Loesch, Associate at Klarquist Sparkman; and Samuel Liccardo, Mayor of San Jose.

You probably also know, however, that no matter how much optimism and happy talk is thrown at the topic of patents – how to craft them, prosecute and litigate – the underlying controversy will never go away.

That catastrophic and philosophical disconnect between:

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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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