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

Crowd sourcing Design: The Panel that won’t be at DAC 2017

 
June 14th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


The following transcript is from a panel
that’s not showcasing at the Design Automation Conference next week in Austin. It was submitted as an idea last Fall, but was declined by conference organizers.

Why was that? Is the idea of crowd sourcing chip design a tad too open source-ish for the EDA establishment, too community based and innovative? Who knows.

The panel discussion took place, nonetheless, several weeks ago and is available below. It’s a conversation between eFabless Co-founder & CTO Mohamed Kassem and TopCoder Co-founder Jack Hughes, now Director of Tongal and member of the eFabless Board.

Per the eFabless website, the company “applies collective and multidisciplinary community knowledge to all aspects of semiconductor product development.”

Per the TopCoder website, this company has a “community of over 1,000,000 design and technology experts [providing] on-demand capability, bandwidth, and velocity so you can do more.”

The dialog below reflects both Jack Hughes’ and Mohamed Kassem’s deep knowledge around the issues of building design communities, open-source technology, and crowd sourcing design.

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Wally Rhines: Grand Challenges in EDA

 
June 8th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


This is the second in a 4-part series on Grand Challenges in EDA
. Last week’s entry featured Adapt-IP Chair John Sanguinetti. This week’s conversation is with Mentor Graphics CEO Walden C. Rhines.

Rhines has led Mentor Graphics since 1996, following a distinguished career at TI heading up the ginormous semiconductor group there. His PhD is in material science, but his interests are far more diverse. Additionally, his name and his company have been in the news of late because Mentor was just acquired by Siemens, where he continues to serve in a leadership role. Rhines received the Phil Kaufman Award in 2015, the EDA industry’s highest honor.

Given Dr. Rhines’ storied career as a keynote speaker, it’s not surprising that he came to our May 26th phone call fully prepared to articulate what he sees as today’s Grand Challenges in EDA. Rhines says there are “at least three big ones.”

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John Sanguinetti: Grand Challenges in EDA, Chilling Challenges in Security

 
June 1st, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Master technologist John Sanguinetti
has made major contributions to the EDA industry in the first decades of his career, and is now doing the same for the IP industry. After finishing his PhD at University of Michigan, Sanguinetti worked at DEC, Amdahl, Elxsi, Ardent Computer, and NeXT, was President at Chronologic, Modellogic, and CynApps, and was CTO at Forte Design.

In 1990 while still at NeXT, Sanguinetti became convinced he could write a better simulator than Cadence’s VerilogXL, so working nights and weekends for several months he wrote VCS. The potential of the tool inspired Sanguinetti and Peter Eichenberger to found Chronologic. They launched the product in late 1992, and sold the company to Viewlogic in late 1994. Synopsys acquired Viewlogic in 1997, and VCS has continued on there as a foundational element of the company’s verification strategy.

Currently Sanguinetti is serving as Chairman at Adapt-IP, but given his long and distinguished history with EDA, he agreed to opine this week on Grand Challenges in EDA. In the following conversation, he offers two Grand Challenges in EDA and two in Security, the latter being an issue of rapidly growing concern worldwide.

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The Truth: CyberThieves, Long-term Care Insurance, IEEE, and You

 
May 11th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


In flipping through the current issue of IEEE Spectrum
, I was astounded to find an ad on the inside back cover encouraging IEEE members to buy the organization’s long-term care insurance.

That ad tells you two things: a) Some of the 400,000 IEEE members are thinking about long-term care, because they’re aging and don’t want to burden their children with caring for an elderly parent, and b) long-term care insurance is a respected product that any reasonable person would want to invest in.

Regarding these two conclusions: The idea that part of the IEEE is moving into their Golden Years is spot-on, but the idea that long-term care insurance is something worth buying is not so obvious.

If you’ve ever looked into buying one of these policies, you know they’re obscenely expensive. And they can’t be activated until: a) you’ve lived for 100 days in some kind of assisted living facility and can pass the incompetent-at-life-skills test, or b) more insidiously, you’re surviving by way of a life-assistance tube – feeding or oxygen – and you’re housed in some kind of skilled nursing facility for at least 100 days.

These are the two circumstances under which long-term care insurance will pay out. Long-term care insurance does not cover the costs of in-home care. Don’t be duped into thinking it does.

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Blink’r: IoT moving Customized Design to the Edge

 
May 4th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Before you can design something for the IoT
, you need a platform upon which to construct your design to keep development costs down, and before you can build that platform, you need to understand what the IoT actually is. And to do that, it’s useful to start with entrepreneur Baoguo Wei, founder of Phoinix Technologies and the company’s Blink’r IoT-in-a-Box tool set.

When we spoke recently by phone, Wei said: “I’ve been in the industry long before it was called IoT. When I came out of school, my first job included a project where we needed to measure the contents of the fuel tanks in a fleet of trucks spread across different locations, something that required data collection. We built our own radios and a back-end for the data.

“At the time, the back-end was not called the Cloud, it was called a Server and we used an algorithm to solve the problem.”

He chuckled, noting it wasn’t the Cloud then, because that infrastructure was still being built out. Similarly, only when the infrastructure for the Internet of Things began to appear, did the thing get its name.

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H-1B Visa: de Geus’ tragedy looms large

 
April 20th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


The White House this week
issued an Executive Order launching a complete review of the H-1B visa program as it pertains to high-tech workers. Is this a relief for those involved in using these devices to bring in tech talent from overseas and want to get it right? Or does it harbor a deepening of what Synopsys Aart de Geus terms “a tragedy” – the ongoing difficulty of getting easy access to the global talent pool that Silicon Valley professes to need?

More fundamentally, why are there H-1B visas in the first place? Are there indeed too few American nationals with the training needed to push Silicon Valley’s tech agenda forward? And if those numbers are insufficient, why can’t the talent pool be augmented with off-shore workers laboring away in distant climes?

After all, distributed teams and remote computing have been a way-of-life for several decades here in the Digital Age. Remember all of the crowing at the dawn of the Era of the Distributed Team: Development would go on non-stop, 24×7. Wherever the sun is shining, designers are designing, was the received wisdom when it comes to global teams – and it continues to be.

So, why is it so important to bring people into the U.S. when they can work elsewhere, in their own locale – their efforts melded into the corporate whole via VPNs and/or crafty IT interventions that knit the project together seamlessly. All of that enhanced even further with the advent of The Cloud that Computes.

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EDA loses an Advocate: Bob Gardner will be sorely missed

 
April 13th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Every industry needs advocates
, and Bob Gardner served with distinction in that role for many years. When he passed away this week, the industry lost both an articulate spokesman, and someone who had a deep and nuanced understanding of how the unique group of companies involved in EDA and IP come together to provide the crucial underpinnings of a global semiconductor design chain.

Gardner’s most important industry-wide contributions, of course, came during his eight years as Executive Director of the EDA Consortium. He had, however, many years of leadership and involvement in a variety of companies prior to his EDAC assignment, including roles at Verific, Signetics/Philips, AMD, Exemplar Logic, Design Acceleration, Bridges2Silicon, and ITeX.

Given that background, Gardner was able to bring decades of corporate wisdom to his role at EDAC and used it wisely to help craft the mission and work of the Consortium. During his tenure, the organization expanded its membership, became even more pro-active in promoting the common agenda for member companies, and helped to expand the visibility of EDAC across North America and into Europe and beyond.

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Siemens snags Mentor: Cartel canceled, Gary Smith vindicated

 
March 30th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Today is the day some EDA purists thought would never happen
: The disassembling of an industry status quo that’s been in place for over 20 years

As of today, Mentor Graphics has been sold and is fully owned by Siemens. Now Mentor’s arc of history will be decided by folks not residing in the green forests and hills of northern Oregon, and the Big Three cartel is no more. A cartel which has slowly consolidated the playing field over time until nary a startup can be seen.

The power vested in the Big Three EDA companies has grown steadily and inexorably over these years, as has their market dominance. Examination of recent numbers provided by the ESD Alliance Market Statistics Service indicates that today, in excess of 85-percent of the revenue earned in the EDA industry can be attributed to the combination of Synopsys, Cadence, and Mentor Graphics.

These three companies, their leadership, sales prowess, and increasing control of the conversation and technical direction in the industry has made for a powerful cartel. But again, that cartel is no more and the crystal ball predicting future dynamics within the EDA industry has gone dark.

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CAD Tools: No longer agnostic w.r.t. end-product systems?

 
March 30th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


You need no more evidence
than the just-published agenda for June’s Design Automation Conference in Austin to prove that the EDA industry is now a complex amalgamation of technologies, applications and markets. Not to mention people.

This year’s keynotes and skywalks cover a range of topics: From how the IoT will make smart buildings smarter, to why hardware/software co-design is being relabeled as digital twin[ning], why III-V compound semiconductors are the wave of the future, how wearable devices will soon be able to snoop around and find out if you’re having a bad day, and – did we mention the IoT?

New this year, even politics will get its 25 minutes of fame with a keynote outlining what’s up with ICs in China.

In other words, at DAC 2017 the topics are all over the map. You no longer just hear about the nuts and nuances of design; now you hear as much about what’s going on downstream in the system that runs on the IC as you hear about designing the IC itself.

There is a deeper meaning in all of this, of course.

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ESDA’s Big Four Panel: 20 Questions that won’t be asked

 
March 23rd, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Something historic and poignant
is taking place on Thursday, April 6th, that should be of interest to absolutely everyone in the EDA and IP communities. The four most powerful men in these two industries will be on stage for an ESD Alliance panel discussion led by Semiconductor Engineering’s Ed Sperling.

The four panelists include Synopsys Chairman & CEO Aart de Geus, Cadence President & CEO Lip-Bu Tan, Mentor Graphics Chairman & CEO Wally Rhines, and ARM CEO Simon Segars.

The April 6th event will be historic because these Big Four unequivocally define EDA and IP – just as Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins, and Crocker defined Railroads in the West – and it’ll be poignant because you’ll never see them together again. Too many changes ahead.

Of course, the ESDA panel will also be whimsical: You’ll know no more about these CEOs and their companies at the end of the evening than you knew when you first arrived. That doesn’t mean the evening won’t be entertaining.

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Verific: SystemVerilog & VHDL Parsers
DownStream: Solutions for Post Processing PCB Designs



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