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 What Would Joe Do?

Archive for March, 2014

Coverity’s Kuehlmann: Success means Crossing the Chasm

Thursday, March 27th, 2014


The last time I had a lengthy conversation with Dr. Andreas Kuehlmann, he was director of Cadence Research Labs, housed in an off-campus office building just across the street from U.C. Berkeley. I spent an hour touring the lab, located on several floors there, with Kuehlmann as my tour guide.

First launched in 1993, by 2007 the Cadence lab was enjoying incredible new facilities when I visited, heavily kitted out with shiny work stations, high-end desks, fancy seating, gleaming conference rooms, and the usual array of tech-toys one expected to be on-site to entertain the young fanciful ones whose creativity apparently relied on having their work stations and their play stations positioned in close proximity

At the time, Mike Fister was King at Cadence. His reign, although now thoroughly besmirched by history, included in the plus column the company’s ongoing funding and encouragement of their Berkeley-based BlueSky TechLab/PlayPen.

During my visit in December 2007, my tour guide explained in great detail how Fister had been there several days before and had again reassured Kuehlmann that he had at his disposal all of Cadence’s resources: Kuehlmann’s job was not to worry about funding, only to worry about the rate at which his feisty group of wunderkinds were turning out innovative ideas that could be embraced by the mainline Cadence organization and brought to market.

Wow, what a gig, I probably said at the time, and Kuehlmann probably agreed: Cool digs just a few quick steps away from Cal’s engineering brain-trust, cool young folks soldiering away all around him, and a way cool corner office for the lab’s director that looked straight out to the Golden Gate Bridge. What wasn’t to like about that set-up?


Sage-DA: Automating rule checking

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014


If ever there was a need for additional help in design, now is the time. As the industry marches down, node after node, the problems ramp up, node after node.

After my conversation with Mentor’s Joe Sawicki several weeks ago about all of the pros/cons of moving to the next node, it was good then to speak with Sage-DA CEO Coby Zelnik about how his company’s tools are designed to help solve the single most ferocious problem that arises once designers in the trenches are ordered to make that move – the explosion in number and complexity of design rules.

Given that you all know how design rules work, can you quote chapter and verse about how the numbers of rule operations increase in the DRC Manual with each progressive node? Zelnik included a slide in his presentation last week that laid out the nightmare. At 65 nanometers, it’s 3000 rules; at 40 nanometers, it’s 4000 rules; At 28, it’s 8000. But at 20 and 16, the number stands at a staggering 16,000. The sheer magnitude of those numbers is what made the conversation last week with Zelnik so interesting.


Synopsys’ Newton Project: Isaac, Richard, and the Power of 10x

Monday, March 24th, 2014


March 24th, 6:01 AM – Later this morning at Silicon Valley SNUG, the CEO of Synopsys will be presenting a keynote that will most likely dwell on the newest major tool release from his company: IC Compiler II.

Synopsys notified the press several weeks ago that the announcement would be made this morning, but we would only be blessed with a pre-briefing if we promised to honor the embargo. Undoubtedly most agreed to these most conventional of terms. However, either ESNUG was never asked, or simply learned details of the launch through more creative channels; a preliminary description and critique of ICC II were published there last Thursday for all to see.

When I asked Synopsys last Friday morning if the ESNUG post made their embargo invalid, it was clear I had touched a nerve in their organization. They were absolutely adamant that the embargo was still valid, and if I refused to promise to honor it, not only would I not receive my pre-briefing later that day, I would never receive another pre-briefing from Synopsys going forward. Ever.

Okay then, I’ve honored the embargo. I’ve also used the information published on ESNUG last Thursday afternoon to inform my interview with Synopsys last Friday afternoon. Speaking for Synopsys on my March 21st conference call with the company was Sanjay Bali, Director of Product Marketing. Numerous PR people were also on the call. Here’s an abbreviated report on how the interview went.


M&A: Mentor acquires BDA

Friday, March 21st, 2014


It’s Friday afternoon and spring is busting out all over, so why would anyone want to sit on a conference call and talk about EDA? Well, if you were Ravi Subramanian, President and CEO of Berkeley Design Automation, you would. The company he leads has just been sold to Mentor Graphics and today’s his day to celebrate the feat with the press.

I spoke with Ravi for 20 minutes this afternoon and remembered straightaway why he is the real thing. Well spoken, fully informed, and completely disciplined in his presentation, still his extreme delight with the acquisition was in full view as he patiently fielded my questions.


Agnisys: Automating spec checking

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014


Agnisys exhibited at DVCon several weeks ago in Silicon Valley, but within the time constraints of the show I didn’t have a chance to talk with them. Fortunately, that was remedied at 9 am this morning – 9:30 pm in Noida – during a phone call with company CEO Anupam Bakshi, who was visiting his team in India at the time of our conversation.

Prior to his involvement with Agnisys, Bakshi served at Avid Technology, PictureTel, Blackstone Consulting Group, Cadence, and Gateway Design Automation.


WWJD – Let’s start with the elevator pitch. In 25 words or less, when did the company start and what do you do?

Bakshi – We started 6 or 7 years ago and are Massachusetts-based, although a lot of our development is done in Noida. Our products, called IDesignSpec, focus on the area that the big EDA companies don’t, providing an executable specification tool for chip design.


Node2Node: Mentor’s Joe Sawicki

Thursday, March 13th, 2014


The following conversation with Joe Sawicki, VP/GM of Mentor Graphics’ Design-to-Silicon Division, looks at the complexities of deciding if and when a company should move down to the next process node. The interview was inspired by an upcoming panel at DAC, Designing on advanced process nodes: How many respins should you plan for?

Sawicki is an acknowledged expert in design and manufacturing, and “responsible for Mentor’s design-to-silicon products, including the Calibre physical verification and DFM platform, and the Tessent design-for-test product line.” I spoke to him by phone this week while he was traveling in Japan on business.


CDNLive 2014: Delicious Sensory Overload

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014


In the spirit of full disclosure, Cadence paid for lunch yesterday for the Press Corps attending CDNLive 2014. We had a scrumptious gourmet meal at Tosca in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency before returning to the Santa Clara Convention Center next door to have an hour-long “one-on-one” with Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan. In truth, it was actually an hour-long “twenty-on-one” with CEO Tan, because all of the usual suspects EDA Press Corps was in the room throwing softball lobbing questions at Tan.

Over the course of the hour, we learned that CEO Tan has a host of different investment partners – sorry, didn’t write down the names – involved in his various VC-funded ventures that span everything from GoPro [the trendy wearable camera enterprise out of Half Moon Bay] to a fabless startup that he said can tape-out a design at 16 nanometers for a scant $15 million, rather than the usual $150 million being lamented today in the global press. [In fact, Tan mentioned so many ventures he’s involved with, it begs the question: How does he have time to run Cadence?]

We learned that CEO Tan is very excited about all of the technologies involved in the semiconductor design/supply chain, that he believes it’s a great time to be a player in the industry, and that Cadence is innovating rapidly on multiple fronts simultaneously. And if/whenever Tan senses that they’re slowing down in any particular area, he pushes Cadence Engineering to move forward even faster.


DVCon 2014: Design & Verification on Steroids

Thursday, March 6th, 2014


Oh my gosh: If you arrived at DVCon 2014 at 10:45 am on Tuesday this week, you’d have wondered if you’d wandered into the wrong conference. What happened to sedate, dignified DVCon? Standing at the registration desk on the first floor of the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose, the volume of noise and conviviality sweeping down the staircase from the upstairs mezzanine was unprecedented. What was going on up there? The DVCon morning poster session, awash in company reps and their ideas, and engineers anxious to engage with both.

When I got to the top of the staircase, I took a moment before plunging into the crowd, amazed at the vitality and the numbers of people hobnobbing among the posters. It wasn’t surprising to learn later in the day from DVCon General Chair Stan Krolikoski that over a thousand people – attendees and exhibitors combined – were at this year’s conference. Clearly, DVCon is enjoying an extraordinary renaissance, so much so that DVCon Europe will be debuting this October in Munich, with DVCon India, DVCon China, and DVCon Japan now in the planning stages. Like I said, omg.


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