Sunday, December 31st, 2017
Here are some random predictions for 2018 and beyond. No rhyme or reason to the list, but just a zany way to usher in the New Year.
1) Autonomous vehicles will rule the roads, after the requisite number of high-profile crashes.
2) Electric vehicles will shut down the power grid, precipitating wholesale revolt from those who cleave to their combustion engines.
3) Problems with returning online purchases will move legions of shoppers back to brick and mortar retail.
4) The piles of stuff due to #3 will continue to grow, further increasing the National Crisis of Clutter.
Thursday, December 28th, 2017
After 22 years as an independent ‘startup’, Runtime Design Automation was purchased by Altair in September 2017. Per founder and CEO Andrea Casotto, this is yet another chapter in what has been a very exciting run of things.
WWJD: How are things going?
Andrea Casotto: Since we were sold to Altair in September, the company actually went IPO in October, so things are going very well. There is a lot of positive change coming, so I am very optimistic.
WWJD: What will those changes include?
Andrea Casotto: The number one change as we merge into Altair, is contact with their team, their shareholders and, of course, their sales people. We also expect more resources to be available to us, and to be able to tap into more expertise through Altair.
Thursday, December 21st, 2017
Verific Design Automation in based in Alameda, not exactly Silicon Valley, but close enough to be within driving distance. The company has been in existence for almost 20 years and reports few competitors, if any. Instead, they see themselves as the de-facto standard for HDL language parsers, and as such can be found in just about every chip design flow.
In fact, according to Rick Carlson, Verific VP of Worldwide Sales, he’s more astonished with each passing day just how many places applications developed on top of Verific can be found. Not because he doubts the quality of the product, but because of the wide diversity of industries who are now developing chips.
Rick Carlson also knows a thing or two about building collegiality between the companies that constitute the EDA industry. He was one of the founders of the EDA Consortium 30 years ago, and the Phil Kaufman Award. We spoke at length last month.
Thursday, December 14th, 2017
The leading EDA recruitment guru, Mark Gilbert, regularly sends out info about job openings to his extensive contact list. In a recent such email, I took the time to read the job descriptions in detail and was amazed. These openings are so technical and so unique, I had to call Mark.
“These job requirements are so specific,” I said when he picked up, “surely there can’t be more than a few dozen people who fill the bill. How do you ever find them?”
Mark laughed: “You’re right. There are so few matches for these companies, given their job requirements and the correct combination of skills they’re looking for. For me to fill one position, I can look at several thousand resumes. And each resume is incredibly comprehensive.
“But I’m looking for the one guy that has this and that skill, but not the other. Yet there are very few people who have those qualifications.”
Thursday, December 7th, 2017
Academics are a special breed of animal, especially those who have also succeeded in business. They vacillate wildly between the conventional and the visionary, between the tangible realities of life and the far-flung concepts of blue-sky, what-if thinking. And this year’s Kaufman Award winner is no exception.
Professor Rob Rutenbar grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, did his undergrad at Wayne State University, his PhD at University of Michigan, was on the faculty at Carnegie-Mellon for 25 years, during which time he co-founded Neolinear and sold it to Cadence, and then picked up and moved to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he put the university and his own perseverance to the test by igniting the move to massively available online education. Now just this year, he has returned to the East Coast as Senior Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Pittsburgh.
All of this is very comprehensible and logical, but only on the face of things.
In fact, by his own admission, no small part of Rutenbar’s success is based on attendance at a random barbecue years ago, a bit of simultaneous happenstance, and a restless interest in what’s around the next corner. Which of course, is the classic definition of a bohemian. Or in Rutenbar’s case, the definition of a Kaufman Award winner.
[Spoiler alert: The following may include narrative that will appear in Rob Rutenbar’s talk on Thursday, February 8, 2018, when he accepts the Kaufman Award at the CEDA/ESD Alliance dinner in his honor in San Jose.]
Thursday, November 30th, 2017
Of all the stories associated with Cadence Design Systems, the saga of Lip-Bu Tan might be considered the most unlikely. After all, this is the company that launched one of the most flamboyant CEOs in the history of EDA, followed by one of the most outspoken, then one of the least prepared given his non-tech provenance, and finally one of the most distinctly over-paid in the history of the industry and Silicon Valley.
And all of that even before the corporate cataclysm of 2008. Few at the company in the fall of that year may have noticed the economy teetering on a cliff, because they were too busy tracking unbelievable developments within their own firewall.
On October 15, 2008, a thorough house-cleaning gutted the executive suite: The CEO, all EVPs, and a smattering of others were out, leaving the company leaderless and without an apparent rudder. Instantly the company stock tanked and more than a dozen shareholder lawsuits erupted from that special place from whence such things spring as spontaneously as lawyers after an ambulance.
Into this chaos stepped Lip-Bu Tan. Admittedly, he was no stranger to Cadence having been on the board for several years at that point, but was neither chairman like Stanford’s John Shoven, nor an EDA household name like Berkeley’s Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli.
Also surprising: On paper Tan looked more quintessential VC than quintessential CEO, given his track record founding and managing Walden International’s $2 billion investment portfolio. Nonetheless, it was Lip-Bu Tan’s name that suddenly appeared in the press releases announcing the new Interim CEO.
Thursday, November 16th, 2017
Despite the title of this week’s Computer History Museum evening event – The Future of War – both New York Times cyber-security reporter Nicole Perlroth and Endgame CEO Nathaniel Fick spent a lot more time talking about the past and the present than the future.
That’s because their conversation wasn’t really about war; it was about the lives that you and I are living in the here and now. And those lives – at least the privacy and security concerns associated with those lives – are mind-numbing in today’s
Orwellian Digital Age.
So, are you worried about cyber-security?
Are you worried about nefarious entities hacking your email, your social media accounts, your dating history, your purchasing history or credit scores? Worried that they’ve got access to your phone, your laptop, your watch, your Alexa, your TV, refrigerator, light bulbs or thermostat? Worried that they’ve infiltrated your bank, your doctor, your medical insurance provider? That they’ve cyber-attacked your power grid, regional emergency response capabilities, state and national legislatures, your federal government, your Army, Navy, CIA or FBI? Even your elections?
Thursday, November 2nd, 2017
ICScape is both an EDA company and an analog IP provider. The company’s EDA tools “cover the complete AMS design flow”, its SoC design tools are “point solutions for design closure”, and the ICScape IP catalog includes a variety of analog IPs.
Jason Xing is CEO of ICScape. Prior to co-founding the company in 2005, he was at Sun Microsystems for 7 years. Xing has two PhDs, in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in Mathematics from the University of Louisiana. Xing is an accomplished technologist, and a well-informed observer of the semiconductor industry.
We spoke last week about his company and the future of the technology wherein he positions his offerings.
Thursday, November 2nd, 2017
Memory technologies are changing, per Weebit Nano CEO Coby Hanoch. In a recent phone call he said, “The current technologies, Flash and so on, have been around for a long time and are starting to hit the wall, which is why we’re seeing people going to things like 3D memories.
“At Weebit, however, we are focusing on Resistive RAM – developing the technology with help from Leti Labs in Grenoble, France. With the assistance of Leti, we have been able to develop a 4k-bit memory array on 300-nanometer wafers.
“Now we are working to achieve our goal of 40 nanometers before the end of the year. We expect to have single cells at 40 nanometers very soon, and will work on 4k-bit arrays immediately after that.”
Weebit Nano is not the only company pursuing new, alternative options for memory.
Per Hanoch: “There are actually quite a few players in this market – including big companies like Intel and Samsung – all working on different types of technology, because not everyone agrees as which technology will be the future of memory.
Thursday, October 26th, 2017
Dr. Philippe Faes and Dr. Hendrick Eeckhaut together founded Sigasi in 2008. Since that time, Belgium-based Sigasi has accomplished the impossible: Taking the best elements of software design and applying them to hardware design. The Sigasi Studio IDE takes the type of feature-rich development environment that facilitates software design and redefines it for hardware design.
Early one morning last week, I spoke by phone with Hendrick Eekhaut, who serves as CTO at Sigasi. He was in Belgium, I was in California. After our conversation, he headed out to dinner; I headed in for breakfast.