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 What Would Joe Do?

Archive for August, 2013

Cliff Cummings: His teaching is gift to the industry

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Perfectly suited by nature to teaching, when affable Cliff Cummings steps up to conduct his Verilog course, the class is in for a treat. From the get-go, Cliff establishes a tone of respect, humor, and openness to questions of any kind. He encourages students to interrupt when they don’t understand, to stand up, sit down, resort to coffee and/or carbs, and in all ways to relax and enjoy the learning experience.

There’s something additional, however, that Cliff brings to his inspired task of teaching and that’s his decades of involvement with the Verilog language, its evolution, standards, and implementation. What Cliff Cummings doesn’t know about Verilog and SystemVerilog, isn’t worth knowing. Period.

This week, Cliff is teaching Verilog-2001 Design & Best Coding Practices in Silicon Valley – specifically, in the offices of EDA Direct – and I’ve been lucky enough to attend. Not being a Verilog expert, I approached the class with some trepidation, but found to my delight that I was not the only one among the 8 engineers in the room “new” to the language. We’re all engineers, but we’re not all Verilog designers and hence it’s a class perfectly suited to our skills, interests, and goals.

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FinFETs: Steptoe says bring ‘em on

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

 

Kevin Steptoe is VP of Engineering at Sondrel, a global chip-design consultancy based in Reading, U.K. We spoke this morning by phone about the future of FinFETs, in particular Steptoe’s reaction to my blog posted earlier this month, FinFETs: Yes, No, Maybe.

Steptoe said there’s nothing maybe about FinFETs. They are most definitely “an absolute yes” – revolutionary and disruptive as they may be – and offer great promise for the future of chip design, manufacturing, and deployment. And he said, his enthusiasm for the technology is not just from Sondrel’s point of view, but from his own personal involvement in the industry that extends back several decades.

Per Steptoe: “As the world’s increasingly insatiable demand for mobile, tablet-based, higher frequency devices ramps up, the predominant challenges for engineers and designers translate into fears of leakage power and performance. The FinFET, in its construction, addresses these challenges and makes mobile devices dramatically more possible.

“[In fact], the control of the short-channel affect and suppression of leakage actually simplifies things, so engineers will have the opportunity to achieve much higher [transistor] density, much lower power, and similar-or-increased performance levels. We see FinFETs as a win all the way around, a no-brainer that will fully live up to what it says on the tin: With FinFETS you will design ever larger devices with an ever higher power profile.”

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Good times: EDAC says Q1_2013 a solid success

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

 

Well, it looks like the industry has done it again, delivering good growth over a recent quarter. The Press Release issued by EDAC’s Market Statistics Service on August 6th detailed the numbers for Q1_2013: 8.1% growth overall, including 23.8% growth in Services, 20.2% growth in IP, and (a bit less glam) 2.4% growth in EDA. Interesting.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wally Rhines continues to contribute to the industry by making himself available for conversation about the MSS numbers as they are released each period, clarifying as always that his comments are on behalf of EDAC and do not reflect his role as CEO of Mentor Graphics. When I spoke by phone with Rhines earlier this week, I asked him if we can anticipate industry results for all of 2013 by looking at the Q1 numbers.

He said no, EDAC numbers do not portend the future, they only aggregate the results from the past. To know more about the future of the industry, Rhines referred me to the four visionary keynotes given at DAC by Synopsys’ Aart de Geus, Cadence’s Lip-Bu Tan, Jasper’s Kathryn Kranen and Rhines’ own talk.

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