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Archive for 2014

Winter 2015: Upcoming Conference Schedule

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014


The New Year of 2015 is upon us and the conference options are varied. Many continue the trendiest themes of 2014, innovation in cars and the IoT.

CES 2015 — January 6-9 — Las Vegas

Organizers describe this mega-confab as The Global Stage for Innovation. Keynoters include Intel, Samsung, Mercedes-Benz and Ford Motor Co.

* ASP-DAC 2015 — January 19-22 — Chiba/Tokyo

Presentations set to cover everything from system design to physical design, with 5 special sessions addressing the IoT, nanometer design, machine learning in EDA, ReRAM technology, and system-level design of multicore systems.


Celebrated Headmasters: Dumbledore, Dale, Draper

Thursday, December 18th, 2014


This time of the year is awash in magic.
If you want to be part of that, unlocking more of your own internal magic, you have three choices.

Numbers 1 and 2 reside in San Mateo on the outskirts of Silicon Valley, while Choice Number 3 requires you be a wizard, that you find Platform 9-3/4 at Kings Cross Station in London, take the Express Train from there to the shores of a mysterious loch in Scotland, and study for years under the tutelage of Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. An interesting experience from start to finish, no doubt, as Dumbledore is “the epitome of goodness and knows just about everything.”

At first glance, Choices 1 and 2 may not seem quite as thrilling, but they’re certainly more accessible to both muggles and wizards alike. Choice Number 1 can be found at 1700 South El Camino Real in San Mateo, Suite 100, and boasts the legendary (and late) Dale Carnegie as Honorary Headmaster. If you don’t recognize the name, here’s some help from Wikipedia: “Dale Harbison Carnegie (1888 to 1955) was an American writer and lecturer and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.”

His legacy to the American business community included numerous self-help books and a series of schools where you can still learn the skills Dale Carnegie codified: How to believe in yourself, channel your inner magic, and emerge a self-actualized leader full of confidence and vim.

If Dale Carnegie seems a bit too mid-century modern here in the 21st, or you weren’t born a wizard, then Choice Number 2 pushes far forward as the best of the three. Choice Number 2 also includes a school and a headmaster, but only requires a 6-week commitment and a few thousand dollars to produce an outcome that’s positively exhilarating compared to the calm, clean-cut cache of the Carnegie course.

Housed in an 8-story building, with classrooms at street level and dorm rooms in the floors above, Choice Number 2 is Draper University at 44 East Third Avenue in San Mateo.  The Headmaster is the founder of the Academy, Timothy Cook Draper, and believe me when I say he is neither as enigmatic as Professor Dumbledore nor as dispassionate as Dale Carnegie.

Instead, Tim Draper is straightforward, passionate about his mission, and clearly willing to risk his reputation on the idea that he can turn anyone into a hero. That his school can release the inner magic of self-confidence that produces self-actualized, aggressive, out-reaching, success-seeking, push-the-envelope heroes capable of outpacing any Hot Wizard from Hogwarts or Cool Cat from Carnegie.


DATE 2015: Great Ideas in Grenoble

Thursday, November 27th, 2014


A recent early morning phone call to Germany to speak with DATE 2015 General Chair Wolfgang Nebel re-enforced the idea that it’s going to be a lot of fun next March in Grenoble, if your idea of fun is new ideas and exploring frontiers.

Dr. Nebel said the conference is deep into its evolution away from being a pure EDA conference with associated exhibition, and is moving instead towards being a conference focused on applications of embedded systems and microelectronics. DATE 2015 is set to reflect that change by showcasing two special-topic days, one about IoT and one about medical applications.

“This IoT thing’s been around for a long time,” I said impolitely, “but suddenly it’s got a trendy name as if it’s just been discovered. What do you think we’ll be calling it in 5 years?”

Dr. Nebel chuckled and said politely, “That requires one to be very speculative. Perhaps by then, it will be a completely connected world and we won’t need a name at all, the concept will be so ubiquitous?”

I asked which topics would be included in the special day on medical applications.

Dr. Nebel responded, “There will be sessions looking at drivers for health-care innovation in three different areas. The first will be wearable computing for medical applications, meaning sensors that people will carry around with them as part of their clothing or directly attached to their bodies. These devices present challenges of energy supply and other such things. The second area will be implantable devices into the human body, and the third area will be diagnostics supported by medical devices.”


Zuken: Going Meta on Automotive Design

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014


Things are really heating up in automotive design and innovation. Last week, the Bosch ICCAD keynote about self-driving cars was covered here, and this week it’s Zuken’s latest automotive-related announcement regarding the launch of E3.HarnessAnalyzer and the acquisition of software IP from Intedis.

Per the company: “E3.HarnessAnalyzer complements Zuken’s automotive technology portfolio formed around the E3.series [Electrical wiring, control systems and fluid engineering software] and Cabling Designer. E3.HarnessAnalyzer, based on an existing Intedis product, is a powerful tool for viewing and analyzing harness drawings in the standard HCV container data format, which combines KBL (physical data model) and SVG (vector graphics) data. The tool supports efficient collaboration through powerful analysis, redlining, and version-compare functionality [and] provides ease-of-use for sharing comprehensive harness design models and documents with internal or external project teams.”

When I spoke to Zuken reps in Germany about all of this during a phone call in early November, my first questions were about Bosch, having just heard the ICCAD keynote that week, and Mentor Graphics, a company that’s had a foot in the auto-harness market for many years.

Reinhold Blank, Zuken Business Director for Automotive, responded promptly.


Bosch Kibosh: Ask not what EDA can do for tomorrow’s cars

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014


Sometimes shocking news arrives quietly, like fog over the Bay. In the very first sentence of his glamorous November 3rd keynote at ICCAD in Silicon Valley, Bosch VP of Engineering Peter van Staa bluntly told his audience that EDA would “probably not” help solve the problems related to electronic designs for the cars of the future. He then spent the next 45 minutes explaining instead how Bosch would.

“Bosch is unique,” van Staa said. With 42,000 employees and 4.5 billion euros spent in 2013 alone for R&D across multiple silos – energy and building technologies, consumer goods, industrial controls, and mobile “solutions” [anything driven by an engine being a particular focus] – the Stuttgart-based company is spewing out “an invention every 25 minutes.” [Can any EDA company make such a claim?]


Tea Leaves at ICCAD: Struggling to see the cup half-full

Thursday, November 13th, 2014


Dreary sentiments notwithstanding from several panelists at an ICCAD evening session on November 2nd in San Jose, SRC’s Dr. Bill Joyner espoused optimism and energy for the future of EDA, even if said future doesn’t include the venerated Moore’s Law stretching off into infinity forever.

As moderator, Joyner convened the panel, “Moore’s Law is dying, EDA to the rescue!”, and turned over the podium straightaway to University of Pittsburgh’s Dr. Alex Jones for the first 20 minutes, which allowed the professor to report out on a 3-year Computing Community Consortium effort, just completed, to examine and exhume EDA from the doldrums.

The CCC’s group of 50+ academic and industry leaders have been meeting since 2012 at a series of SIGDA/CCC-funded workshops hoping to impact the future by nudging industry and academia into more productive avenues of research and development in design automation.

The report the committee published, “Workshops on Extreme Scale Design Automation (ESDA) Challenges and Opportunities for 2025 and Beyond”, was available in paper form at the back of the room during the ICCAD panel and has subsequently proved to be great reading, and fodder for a future blog. But this blog is a thumbnail sketch of the November 2nd discussion, so please read on.


Tanner’s PDK: Pretty Darn Kool

Thursday, October 30th, 2014


Tanner EDA is based in Monrovia, California, which already tells you something about the company. They don’t play by the expected rules in EDA, they’re not based in Silicon Valley, they’re independent-minded, customer-centric, and have a long-time commitment to interoperability and straight-forward messaging.

When I spoke by phone this week with Tanner President Greg Lebsack, I suggested that Tanner is the Madison Bumgarner of EDA – steady, delivering without fanfare, successful and consistently attributing that success to team and hard work, while also expressing respect for the competition in the league.

Lebsack chuckled at the comparison and suggested an L.A.-based pitcher would be a more appropriate Tanner totem, one that wouldn’t get him in hot water with friends and family, but if I couldn’t see past Bumgarner he would reluctantly accept the compliment.

He added, “From the founding of Tanner, we have been a company built by engineers for engineers and taking great pride in our products. Being a small company without the marketing budget of the big companies, it’s true we are a well-kept secret in EDA, but that is changing with more and more people taking notice of us.”


CTO & Visionary: A conversation with Real Intent’s Pranav Ashar

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014


Dr. Pranav Ashar embodies the best of what EDA is all about these days, serving as articulate spokesman for the company’s technology, while tracking the wider view as well, the trends and future of the industry. I spoke with Dr. Ashar in early October and was impressed with his willingness to participate in an unscripted interview.

Our conversation was precipitated by Real Intent’s recent announcement of the 2014 release of its Meridian CDC product for clock-domain crossing analysis, which per the press release, adds enhanced speed, analysis and debug support for SoC and FPGA design teams, introduces a new CDC interface approach, a new way of debugging CDC violations, and a unique way to handle flat and hierarchical designs comprehensively. Dr. Ashar started our conversation by talking about the announcement.


Leonardo, Michelangelo, Lucio: A taxonomy of Italian Genius

Thursday, October 16th, 2014


There are three types of Italian genius. Leonardo da Vinci characterized one with his brilliant problem solving, creative innovations in the arts and sciences, diverse dabblings that often left completion dates for commissioned projects as sfumato as his oils, and aggressive self-promotion. An apocryphal testimonial to this last: When he finished the Mona Lisa in the early 1500s, he invited friends and foe alike into his studio to show off what he assured them would be the Next Big Thing. Humility was not in Leonardo’s toolkit.

Born in 1475, Michelangelo Buonarroti exemplified a second type of Italian genius. Intense, focused, gifted with extraordinary talents in the visual arts and architecture, and rumored to be so impassioned by his work as to go weeks on end without sleep, his talent was such that monumental commissions were forced upon him by the political and religious powers of the day, although he argued bitterly against the scale of such assignments. He became increasingly cantankerous with age, and in angry response to criticism of one commission in particular, famously painted himself into his vast Last Judgment as a flayed skin victimized by his patrons. Charm and affability were not in Michelangelo’s toolkit.

Fast forward five centuries and find now a completely different type of Italian genius. Shaped by mid-20th century forces in technology, and brought to full fruition in the fertile fields of Silicon Valley, Lucio Lanza exemplifies a third class in the taxonomy, one that encompasses the upsides of those 16th century icons – intelligence, creativity, a passion for innovation and work, a sense of history – without the downsides – egomania, rough irritability, inability to finish a project, or avoid a project too big to handle.

In the wake of two High-Renaissance Florentians, it took one High-Tech Milanese to fill out the taxonomy of Italian genius. Here in the 21st century, Lucio Lanza is in a modern class of his own.


Swan Song: Kranen bids Adieu to EDA

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014


Exhibiting that unique combo of energy, hubris, and eloquence that’s the hallmark of Silicon Valley CEOs everywhere, Kathryn Kranen bid adieu to the EDA industry tonight. Sitting on the Cadence stage in conversation with Vista Ventures’ Jim Hogan – an event billed as part of EDAC’s ongoing Emerging Companies Series – Kranen walked the audience through highlights of her career, with special emphasis on the last 11 years serving as CEO at Jasper, a company she sold to Cadence earlier this year for a reported price of $174 million.

Up until the end of the evening, the exchange between these seasoned veterans of EDA proceeded as advertised – full of pithy advice on starting up startups, as well as enthusiastic endorsements of opportunities in the industry and good-natured banter between two highly successful people who know what it takes to grow and sell a company in high-tech. In the end, however, the evening turned out to be far, far more. It turned out to be Kathryn Kranen’s swan song in EDA.

Toward the end of her 90-minute interview with Hogan, things went historic when Kranen offered not only that she’s leaving Cadence just 4 months after the Jasper acquisition, but she’s leaving EDA completely. According to Kranen, she wants to serve at a company in the size range of Jasper, 100 to 150 employees, but enterprises of that scale are almost impossible to assemble these days in EDA. Since she wants to lead a moderately-sized company, but those options are not available here, she’s looking instead for opportunities outside the industry.


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