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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Wally Rhines: just the 7th Inning Stretch

November 12th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

Joyful relief probably best describes this evening’s event at the Fourth Street Summit Center in San Jose where the glitterati of EDA gathered to honor Mentor CEO Wally Rhines with a long-overdue CEDA/EDAC-sponsored Kaufman Award. Joyful relief and a sense of delicious mischief.

One should have known something was up when the trio in the corner – during cocktails on the 7th floor overlooking scenic downtown San Jose – launched into a tango so compelling one was forced to look over to the source of the music. Surprisingly and not surprisingly, it included Bob Gardner on bass. Tango and all, the music sashayed its way through the lively mesh of conversation that defined the crowded room in that pre-dinner hour.

When enough yummy hors d’oeuvres had been consumed, and just the right amount of Jazz Cellars wine – the winemaker himself now serving as the Executive Director of EDAC – the gong sounded, doors opened at one end of the room, and huge clumps of happy revelers jostled into the adjoining hall to seek out their assigned tables and grab their chairs, all anticipating good food and great fun.

With at least 200 people in attendance, CEDA and EDAC did not disappoint. Of course, it’s hard to avoid a home run when the irrepressible Wally Rhines is at the center of the play, but this evening CEDA/EDAC delivered up something more akin to a grand slam.

For starters, over dinner’s first course, IEEE CEDA President-elect Shispal Rawat offered an impromptu joke from the podium [paraphrased here]: If you rearrange the acronym CEDA, you get EDAC. We are just like EDAC, only bigger.

EDAC responded in kind, courtesy of Executive Director Bob Smith: EDAC covers soup to nuts, from exports to OS issues to market statistics, and by the way we’re glad you’re all here and glad tonight’s about Wally: Join EDAC.

With eight minutes of the first 30 thusly consumed, the main course was served and diners reached for more Jazz Cellars reds and whites, comfortable in the knowledge that the hilarity metric was headed sharply up and to the right. A movie was unfurled, and lots of folks showcased therein had lots to say.

Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan gave thanks for Wally’s friendship and enthusiasm. Former Intel CEO Craig Barrett praised Wally’s service to the industry for its “right place and time”. TSMC Chief Morris Chang called Wally a successful man. Both NXP CEO Rick Clemmer and TI head honcho Rich Templeton heaped on more praise. Last and best, Synopsys CEO Aart de Geus dubbed Rhines a cool cat, despite the cruel excesses of Moore’s law, and someone with whom to share a beer and an industry with equal measures of joy.

Enthusiastic endorsements duly noted, it was the live version of Craig Barrett who held sway next, for 15 minutes of the grandest roast that ever passed itself off as a Phil Kaufman Award Winner introduction.

By the time Barrett was done, Rhines’ goose was cooked, skewered by references to his inability to wield an electron microscope and a lengthy process of emerging out from under the long shadow of a father’s well-known text on metallurgy. Points were also deducted for youthful dorkiness and for retreating to milder forms of competition such as EDA when the rougher game of hardball semiconductors was better played by men with more ego.

In the end, however, Barrett abandoned the tough-guy shtick: “Wally, it’s been a pleasure interacting with you for 4 decades. You’ve done good, man. Keep it up.”

Barrett fully sated, Lip-Bu and Shispal regained the stage, gleefully named Dr. Walden C. Rhines as winner of the 2015 Phil Kaufman Award, and the room jumped to its feet in a joyful standing ovation. Wally hopped up on stage and the rest of the evening was his.

Wally thanked Shang-Yi Chiang, Morris Chang, Aart de Geus, Lip-Bu Tan, Greg Hinkley, Gary Smith, Lori Kate Smith, Richard Newton, and the entire semiconductor industry for everything that has gone before – rubylith, Ron Rohrer, Spice, and Don Pederson.

Which brought up Berkeley and a rant that EDAC has heard from Wally in the past: The over-achievers from Cal versus those attempting to keep up at Stanford.

To the delight of his data-starved audience, Wally had slides with data to support the rant, lots of data. Bar charts, pie charts, eye charts, regression analyses, and interpolations to prove that over the next few decades, the number of Kaufman Award winners representing both Stanford and SMU will double, and then double again.

Meanwhile, per Wally, cars, planes, trains, and things that go bump in the night will all succumb to the inevitability of automated design going forward, just as chips have in the past, thanks to all of Wally’s friends and competitors.

More importantly, Wally declared that he plans to be part of that progress, along with his aforementioned friends and competitors.

“Thanks to all of you for the many years behind us, and for the many years ahead!” he said effusively to the room.

Joyfully and with great relief, the room responded and again jumped to its feet for another spontaneous outpouring of standing ovation and affection for the 2015 Phil Kaufman Award Winner and clearly the most beloved man in the room.


A swing and a miss …

Nothing ever happens without a purpose in baseball or EDA, where the game’s not really over until the fat lady sings – or the grease monkey, fireman, sushi chef, butcher, barber, baker and candlestick maker have all chimed in as well.


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