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Archive for September, 2015

Andrew Kahng: Modeling the Future of Semiconductors (and Test)

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015


Andrew Kahng is Professor of CSE and ECE at UC San Diego, and former General Chair at DAC, ISQED, and ISPD. As such, he knows what people who attend conferences need to hear. Next week he’s taking that knowledge to IEEE’s International Test Conference in Anaheim, delivering a keynote entitled: Modeling the Future of Semiconductors (and Test).

The question is, why is test an afterthought in the keynote title when test is never an afterthought in the flow required to get from design to volume manufacturing? One good guess would be because the world still thinks test is an afterthought, evidenced loud and clear by the fact that a conference on test lives as a separate entity from DAC, ISQED, or ISPD.

But again, how can test represent a set of ideas and disciplines sufficiently disconnected from design to live in its own silo? The answer is, test is not disconnected from design, but it does rely on a completely separate set of skills than design.


Automotive Security: Oops, far more complex than we thought

Thursday, September 24th, 2015


On a road trip with colleagues this week in Europe, driving about in a diesel-powered auto, it is with no small amount of interest that we have followed the news out of the U.S. regarding recently discovered emissions-reporting irregularities for diesel-engined VWs and Audis.

At the core of the alleged scheme is a cunning software construct that knows when the diesel engine should behave according to EPA regulations – in other words, when it’s being tested – and alternatively knows how to rev up engine performance by allowing emissions way in excess of allowed limits – in other words, when the car is being driven between testing sessions.

Whether you follow engineering, automotive engineering, the global automotive market (and stock valuations), or even international relations, you know that this story about VW is a complex one. And not one that is making anyone happy: Neither the company, nor the millions of owners of the vehicles involved, nor the governments and agencies in various geographies impacted by the revelations, nor the many whose health may be have been compromised by emissions that might have otherwise been avoided.

However, that’s not the point of this blog; the point here is one of situational irony.


Dream Catcher: Synopsys’ FPGA-based Prototyping

Thursday, September 17th, 2015


This week, Synopsys announced its HAPS-80 FPGA-based prototyping systems, which  the company says “delivers up to 100 MHz multi-FPGA performance and high-speed time-domain multiplexing technology.”

Johannes Stahl, Synopsys Director of Product Marketing for Prototyping, told me in a phone call related to the announcement that when it comes to physical prototyping, “things are breaking.” Which is why, per Stahl, Synopsys is fulfilling the dreams of its customer base with these new HAPS-80 systems, fully integrated systems that address the biggest problems in prototyping.


2015 Kaufman Award: Dr. Walden C. Rhines

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015


This week, the EDA Consortium and the IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation announced Dr. Walden C. Rhines as recipient of the 2015 Phil Kaufman Award, the EDA industry’s highest commendation for contributions to the business and technology of tools for electronic design automation.

Per the Press Release: “Dr. Rhines is being recognized for growing the EDA and IC design industries through his efforts as a leading voice of EDA and for pioneering the evolution of IC design to SoCs design.”

EDAC Executive Director Robert Smith is quoted in the Press Release, acknowledging Rhines having serving as EDAC Board Chair five different times: “Dr. Rhines has helped drive EDAC to a position of leadership, creating a mechanism for the EDA industry to grow and address common issues. He has worked tirelessly to promote EDA as a key enabler, driving the growth of the worldwide semiconductor industry as well.”

Paul Cohen, Chair of EDAC’s Market Statistics Services, is also quoted, acknowledging Rhines’ energetic, quarterly efforts to publicize and explain – for the benefit of analysts and press alike – the ebb and flow of the EDA industry: “Dr. Rhines was involved from the beginning with the quarterly EDAC Market Statistics Services, [which is] based on detailed revenue numbers voluntarily reported in confidence by public and private EDA, semiconductor intellectual property and design service companies. Rhines remains a strong advocate of the program as it approaches its 20th year.”


Alain Labat: Harvest Management Partners in the Driver’s Seat

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015


Alain Labat, the former President & CEO of VaST Systems, told me on a phone call this week that his story, in a way, is very simple: “When we got acquired by Synopsys in 2010, 5 years ago now, our management and investors clearly saw an opportunity to start our own investment bank and advisory company, so that’s what we did.

“We believed then, and still believe, that if you need a big bank from New York or a huge amount of money [to begin your enterprise], the right people are the Goldman Sachs or the other Wall Street guys. But for a technology-based company, you need something different.

“And so, at the advice of our investors, we started Harvest Management Partners specifically for those companies who need something different. Coming from VaST as we did, with a great deal of true operational experience, we felt we could offer much-needed guidance to those companies who were not a good fit for Wall Street.


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