Archive for March, 2013
Thursday, March 28th, 2013
To say this is the year of the finFET is somewhat of an understatement, because everywhere you go somebody’s talking about going up instead of out – at ISSCC, at DesignCon, at DVCon, at ISQED, at SNUG, at EDPS, at DAC.
Among the talks so far, one of the best was given by the father of the finFET himself, U.C. Berkeley’s Chenming Hu. If you were at ISQED in Santa Clara on March 5th, you heard Prof. Hu describe how increasing leakage current in planar devices motivated radical new thinking in the late 1990s: Instead of a classic source, drain, gate structure, take a thin film of high-quality silicon material, place gate-dielectric above and below it such that the silicon is never very far from the gate, and then turn the thing 90 degrees so that the source is out the back, the drain’s in front, and the gate material is vertical.
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
Companies like to be covered by The Press when The Press has something nice to say about them. When The Press doesn’t have nice things to say about them, companies don’t like The Press anymore and they close up inside themselves like a sea anemone at low tide on a sunny day. That’s why the whole concept of having a Press Corps in an industry is dumb.
Nonetheless, The Press continues to exist pretty much everywhere and that’s where the dumb thing gets even dumber. People who work in The Press think of themselves as important. I kid you not. They think the things they say, the pearls of wisdom they embed in endless streams of blogs, articles, and even tweets, somehow impact decision making inside of the companies The Press are blogging, opining, and tweeting about. But that’s not really true. It’s just plain dumb that The Press think that what they say actually matters.
So what does matter? What really does make a difference inside of a company? What really impacts the decision making and/or decision makers inside a company? It’s simple: The customers.
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
Randy Royce died yesterday of cancer. You probably didn’t know him. I didn’t know him very well, but his wife and I went to high school together. The first time I met Randy, Yvette was sitting on his lap at our big noisy 10-year class reunion. I always remembered that, because you never saw two people who had more fun together, who loved each other more.
Randy was mayor of San Carlos in recent years, and worked for many years before that at HP and Agilent. A long time ago, we were with Randy and Yvette at a dinner party given by mutual friends. Randy mentioned that he knew Paul Otellini from college and I said, “Really? I’d like to meet Paul Otellini. I’d liked to interview him.”
Thursday, March 21st, 2013
It’s time to start exploring what’s coming up at DAC 2013 in Austin the first week in June, and one way to do that is to visit the conference website. There you’ll find a variety of interesting things including an interactive Exhibit Hall map, which allows you to run your mouse over any booth and see which company’s going to be located there. Maybe that feature’s been available in years past, but it’s still pretty cool.
Something that certainly is new this year at DAC, however, is Innovation Square. I’ve boldly cut-and-pasted the graphic from the DAC website into this blog so you can see what it entails, which is this: You pay the DAC organization $5500 and for that you get a kiosk-like space, a 24-inch computer monitor, an electrical hook-up for your other stuff, booth-unit graphics, a shared private meeting suite with a schedule that you’ll know in advance, and one paid-in-full conference registration.
In other words, you get a “turn key package” that allows you to have a foot on the ground at DAC without enduring the mystery of “What’s this all going to actually cost me?” True, it looks like any particular company in Innovation Square only has about 15 or 20 square feet of show floor, but if otherwise you couldn’t afford to be on the show floor at all in Austin, this is a great innovation indeed.
Thursday, March 14th, 2013
From the podium in San Jose’s DoubleTree Hotel, Jasper Design Automation President & CEO Kathryn Kranen introduced tonight’s EDAC CEO Forecast Event as being “practically perfection” and she was right. With 97 people in the room, the event ran for 97 minutes and the audience [undoubtedly] gave the panel discussion a 97% approval rating. Kudos to all involved, including EDAC for hosting, and OCP-IP, Mod Marketing, and the DoubleTree for sponsoring the event.
Kranen started off the evening by bragging on good news out of EDA: It’s up and to the right for revenue in the industry, with a 4.9 percent increase between 3Q11 and 3Q12. She cited increased stock valuations over the last year for ARM [37%], Cadence [30%], Mentor [26%], PDF Solutions [98%], and Synopsys [17%] as an indication of the viability of EDA as an investment vehicle: If you’d put $100 into each of these companies a year ago, she said, you would have netted a 41% increase in a portfolio today worth $706.90, beating out other investment indices such as the NASDAQ and S&P 100 over the same time period.
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
IBM’s Brad Brech gave one of the Tuesday morning keynotes at ISQED 2013 on March 5th. It was a thought-provoking talk and well received by a large audience of engineers at the Techmart in Santa Clara. Per Brech, like everywhere in computing the trend in data centers is “smaller, cheaper, and faster.”
To illustrate, he drew comparisons with developments in aeronautics over the last century, invoking the Wright Brothers’ aircraft, the Curtiss Flying Boat, the Boeing Stratoliner, the De Havilland Comet, the Boeing 707, and the Concorde. All of these aircraft, he said, addressed technology concerns related to speed. As tragically illustrated by the Concorde disaster in 2000, however, eventually speed as a lone metric of progress in commercial aviation proved unsustainable. Instead, after 2000 the industry became more concerned about efficiency and less about speed.
Similarly, Brech argued, now for the first time in the history of computing, “While CEOs are identifying technology as the single most important external force impacting their organizations, they’re not interested in the speed of the technology but how quickly and efficiently it can be brought online. Now the IT cycle is about speed to adoption and efficiency, not just about the latest/greatest software or hardware.”
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
If you were lucky enough to be at the ISQED Poster Session in Silicon Valley on Tuesday afternoon, March 5th, you had a chance to speak with various university students presenting novel work, various industry researchers presenting new ideas, and Chi-Foon Chan, Co-CEO of Synopsys, whose long involvement with ISQED, and deep and abiding interest in the underlying technology, fueled lively conversations as he too visited posters being presented by academia and industry alike.
As well, you would have had a chance to speak with Prof. Daniela De Venuto from the Politecnico di Bari. She told me about her research into implanted devices which monitor rate of chemical absorption in the digestive tract, and ways in which the resulting data could impact our understanding of the biochemistry of drug delivery mechanisms.
She also told me about various fascinating sessions at the upcoming DATE 2013 conference in Grenoble, starting on March 18th. These sessions are of particular merit for anyone interested in the interface between biological systems, electronic systems, environmental systems, and all manner of collaborative research embracing them all.
On March 21st, Prof. De Venuto is chairing a session on Smart Health along with U.C. Berkeley Prof. Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli. The session is part of a Special Day on Electronic Technologies for Smart Cities.