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 EDACafe Editorial
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.

49DAC Unplugged: Bob, Chris, Ry, Steve, Jennifer, Wally, Jill, Lee

June 4th, 2012 by Peggy Aycinena

DAC started with a boom on Sunday night, June 3rd. EDAC reports that 900 people registered for the opening reception, and by the crush of people in Salon 7 in the basement of the San Francisco Marriott Hotel, it looked like everybody showed up. [Although perhaps not quite 900…]

Setting up my word processor on a cocktail table at the back of the crowd, I manged to see numerous thought leaders in EDA as they swam by, in and out of the stream of people that swirled throughout the wine, buzz & music-laden ballroom as EDAC’s Executive Director Bob Gardner’s Jazz Trio entertained up on stage.

Chris Rowen, CTO at Tensilica, stopped long enough to say hello and offer some comments. Per Rowen, the industry’s changing: “There’s a fundamental shift underway in how we think about computing. We’ve gone from a world where the computer was the application, to computing in The Cloud, to now where computing is the human interface – all things visual.

“Consider this: If you take one human eyeball and multiple its resolution by bit depth and by effective frame rate, that’s 300 terabytes per second to either interpret in a visual computing sense if you want to see what’s going on, or if you want to display it, you need to keep up with 300 terabytes per second.

“That sort of number is in the order of magnitude of a fair slice of what Google processes from billions of people every day, so the opportunity for computing at the interface is enormous. Clearly, we’re just at the very beginning of being able to deploy such tremendous amounts of computation. How we will do that, increasing it by ten to the fifth or sixth of what we’re doing today, means that a huge revolution is still required to live up to the potential of the vision.”

While Chris and I were chatting, Mentor PR Guru Ry Schwark stopped by. He offered an additional viewpoint: “The computational developments of the industry will lead to a new pastoralization.”

Ry said the next stage of the Industrial Revolution means: “If you can get the knowledge to the level where knowledge workers have full [virtual] interaction, the opportunity to shift out of cities will completely change the way we all work. That full integration will mean that even if we are a thousand miles apart, it will be as if we are in the same room.”

I said, that may be plausible but people still like to be with people, and gestured to the hundreds of chatting, imbibing, networking people buzzing away across the landscape of the EDAC ballroom reception.

Chris agreed: “Yes, I’m not the optimist that believes we’ll all feel equally good, even with an infinite precision [virtual] interaction, rather that interacting face-to-face.”

And Ry did not at all disagree: “That’s very true, particularly in sales. At some point, the sales guys always know that it’s the actual physical interacting — handshakes or a pat on the shoulder –  that translates into far better success in their sales efforts.

“And that’s true in the office as well. The old fashioned conversation in the hall, or walking into someone’s office and asking them about the stuff that’s going on – all of this has extraordinary value. Certainly people can go off on their own and work online, but most of us are working best through the spontaneity of [real word] personal interactions.”

Speaking of the real world, Ry was headed off to the bar at that point and agreed to come back with a glass of wine for me as well.

In the meanwhile, Si2 President Steve Schulz stopped by. I asked him what’s new in his world and he said: “Of course, Si2 is celebrating 10 years of OpenAccess at DAC. It’s a big, big celebration, with a whole bunch of Si2 sponsored events.

“In particular, there will be a mid-day luncheon with testimonials and voices from the present and past of OpenAccess, including many industry veterans. We’ll also be giving out 30 recognition awards.”

Everyone who know Steve knows his enthusiasm is infectious, so I knew he wouldn’t mind if I asked the usual question: “Is OpenAccess really open?”

Steve answered instantly: “Absolutely! And for two reasons.

“First, OpenAccess is available to the entire community to download, and there have been thousands of downloads. That’s the use part.

“Second is the control part, which is about our open membership policy. Anyone can join! Membership is nondiscriminatory and completely democratic.”

I asked Steve if the source code is open, and he offered what I already knew: “No, but the OpenAccess change team is elected by the full OpenAccess community, and there’s a collaborative Board of Directors who monitor everything to guarantee openness.”

As Steve and I were chatting, EDAC Senior Project Manager Jennifer Cermak arrived in our conversation circle. I told her the evening’s event seemed a huge success. She agreed: “Yes, a big success – and the sponsors are from Austin to promote DAC 2013.”

Jennifer told me the Austin folks were the ones giving out the flashing ‘Austin’ guitar pins lighting up lapels in all corners of the ballroom at that moment. Just then, Ry Schwark reappeared with my promised glass of wine, and an appetizer to go with it: Mentor CEO Wally Rhines.

Of course, ever the gracious host with the ready ice breaker, I asked Wally to address Steve Schulz’ comments on the openness of OpenAccess. Steve chuckled and Wally was game.

“Well yes, the database is open, but there’s not the full facility of interoperability there that we were hoping for,” Wally said.

Steve was good natured and responded: “Okay, Wally. What would you like to see?”

Wally said, “The ability for customer designs that use proprietary PCells to be available for use by other methodologies.”

Steve responded diplomatically: “Si2 agrees with and supports that objective. When the coalition was formed, it was not created to include PCells, but we’re working on it now and have a new Working Group in place specifically to address that issue.”

Knowing I had violated one of the basic tenants of Cocktail Conversation – no politics – I made a sharp right turn and told Dr. Rhines that given Synopsys now has two CEOs, both Jennifer Cermak and I were offering our CVs and hoping that one of us could serve with Wally in a similar capacity, as co-CEO of Mentor Graphics.

Wally, ever the Master of Cocktail Conversation, responded with aplomb: “Well, thank you, but you’ll both have to get in the queue. I promise, however, 10 to 20 years from now as I’m thinking about filling the spot I’ll let you know how that works out.”

Ry groaned at that point and said, “Gosh, Peggy, why don’t you ask Wally a real question? Like, how do we get to 14 nanomters?”

So I asked: “Okay, Wally. How do we get to 14 nanometers?”

Wally laughed and said, “Hard work!

“But, in fact, if you ask our hardworking engineers, 20 nanometers is already here and 14 is coming. As for everything in between, we’re working very hard on that as well. Today the manufacturing is what’s driving 14 nanometers, but soon the designers will join in and we will be ready!

“What people are developing for the rule decks today is the future of the industry. To be a leader, we know we have to be that far ahead in EDA!”

With that, Wally sailed off to other conversation circles, and up came Jill Jacobs, President of MOD Marketing, and Lee Woods, Co-President of MP Associates, arriving at my table at just about the same moment.

Handshaking and hugs ensued as they both sounded off in amazement and awe over the fact that 2012 in San Francisco constitutes the 49th DAC. I complimented Lee on another, obviously well-organized DAC and said I loved the flashing guitars.

Lee said, “They’re from the folks at the Austin Convention Center. They want to make sure that DAC next year is a big success. And it’s going to be, because Austin’s a huge technology hub. There are so many people there! Samsung has 2400 engineers, Apple has 3500 engineers moving down there, and Freescale has over a 1000 designers in the area.

“I can’t think of anywhere better for DAC – it’s going to be a huge success in Austin!”

Clearly neither Jill Jacobs nor Lee Woods attended the very first DAC, but they both admitted they’ve been to many over the years. Jill gestured toward Lee and said, “Not only has DAC been around for an unbelievably long time, I just can’t believe how long I’ve known Lee!”

They both laughed, and then Jill added: “Of course, we were both children when we first attended!”

At that point, I gulped down my last drop of wine, lamented the advertised lack of booze next door at Gary Smith’s Sunday Evening at DAC presentation, and rushed with the rest of the madding crowd to the ballroom adjacent to Salon 7.

And so the 49th DAC began, and with it the ability to check the pulse of the industry: If the kick-off EDAC reception was any indication, the EDA industry’s most clearly alive and well!


Editor’s Note: Ry Schwark’s recipe for Spanish Flank Steak is one of the most popular on EDA Confidential.


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