Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
Things are really heating up in automotive design and innovation. Last week, the Bosch ICCAD keynote about self-driving cars was covered here, and this week it’s Zuken’s latest automotive-related announcement regarding the launch of E3.HarnessAnalyzer and the acquisition of software IP from Intedis.
Per the company: “E3.HarnessAnalyzer complements Zuken’s automotive technology portfolio formed around the E3.series [Electrical wiring, control systems and fluid engineering software] and Cabling Designer. E3.HarnessAnalyzer, based on an existing Intedis product, is a powerful tool for viewing and analyzing harness drawings in the standard HCV container data format, which combines KBL (physical data model) and SVG (vector graphics) data. The tool supports efficient collaboration through powerful analysis, redlining, and version-compare functionality [and] provides ease-of-use for sharing comprehensive harness design models and documents with internal or external project teams.”
When I spoke to Zuken reps in Germany about all of this during a phone call in early November, my first questions were about Bosch, having just heard the ICCAD keynote that week, and Mentor Graphics, a company that’s had a foot in the auto-harness market for many years.
Reinhold Blank, Zuken Business Director for Automotive, responded promptly.
Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
Sometimes shocking news arrives quietly, like fog over the Bay. In the very first sentence of his glamorous November 3rd keynote at ICCAD in Silicon Valley, Bosch VP of Engineering Peter van Staa bluntly told his audience that EDA would “probably not” help solve the problems related to electronic designs for the cars of the future. He then spent the next 45 minutes explaining instead how Bosch would.
“Bosch is unique,” van Staa said. With 42,000 employees and 4.5 billion euros spent in 2013 alone for R&D across multiple silos – energy and building technologies, consumer goods, industrial controls, and mobile “solutions” [anything driven by an engine being a particular focus] – the Stuttgart-based company is spewing out “an invention every 25 minutes.” [Can any EDA company make such a claim?]
Thursday, November 13th, 2014
Dreary sentiments notwithstanding from several panelists at an ICCAD evening session on November 2nd in San Jose, SRC’s Dr. Bill Joyner espoused optimism and energy for the future of EDA, even if said future doesn’t include the venerated Moore’s Law stretching off into infinity forever.
As moderator, Joyner convened the panel, “Moore’s Law is dying, EDA to the rescue!”, and turned over the podium straightaway to University of Pittsburgh’s Dr. Alex Jones for the first 20 minutes, which allowed the professor to report out on a 3-year Computing Community Consortium effort, just completed, to examine and exhume EDA from the doldrums.
The CCC’s group of 50+ academic and industry leaders have been meeting since 2012 at a series of SIGDA/CCC-funded workshops hoping to impact the future by nudging industry and academia into more productive avenues of research and development in design automation.
The report the committee published, “Workshops on Extreme Scale Design Automation (ESDA) Challenges and Opportunities for 2025 and Beyond”, was available in paper form at the back of the room during the ICCAD panel and has subsequently proved to be great reading, and fodder for a future blog. But this blog is a thumbnail sketch of the November 2nd discussion, so please read on.
Thursday, October 30th, 2014
Tanner EDA is based in Monrovia, California, which already tells you something about the company. They don’t play by the expected rules in EDA, they’re not based in Silicon Valley, they’re independent-minded, customer-centric, and have a long-time commitment to interoperability and straight-forward messaging.
When I spoke by phone this week with Tanner President Greg Lebsack, I suggested that Tanner is the Madison Bumgarner of EDA – steady, delivering without fanfare, successful and consistently attributing that success to team and hard work, while also expressing respect for the competition in the league.
Lebsack chuckled at the comparison and suggested an L.A.-based pitcher would be a more appropriate Tanner totem, one that wouldn’t get him in hot water with friends and family, but if I couldn’t see past Bumgarner he would reluctantly accept the compliment.
He added, “From the founding of Tanner, we have been a company built by engineers for engineers and taking great pride in our products. Being a small company without the marketing budget of the big companies, it’s true we are a well-kept secret in EDA, but that is changing with more and more people taking notice of us.”
Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Dr. Pranav Ashar embodies the best of what EDA is all about these days, serving as articulate spokesman for the company’s technology, while tracking the wider view as well, the trends and future of the industry. I spoke with Dr. Ashar in early October and was impressed with his willingness to participate in an unscripted interview.
Our conversation was precipitated by Real Intent’s recent announcement of the 2014 release of its Meridian CDC product for clock-domain crossing analysis, which per the press release, adds enhanced speed, analysis and debug support for SoC and FPGA design teams, introduces a new CDC interface approach, a new way of debugging CDC violations, and a unique way to handle flat and hierarchical designs comprehensively. Dr. Ashar started our conversation by talking about the announcement.
Thursday, October 16th, 2014
There are three types of Italian genius. Leonardo da Vinci characterized one with his brilliant problem solving, creative innovations in the arts and sciences, diverse dabblings that often left completion dates for commissioned projects as sfumato as his oils, and aggressive self-promotion. An apocryphal testimonial to this last: When he finished the Mona Lisa in the early 1500s, he invited friends and foe alike into his studio to show off what he assured them would be the Next Big Thing. Humility was not in Leonardo’s toolkit.
Born in 1475, Michelangelo Buonarroti exemplified a second type of Italian genius. Intense, focused, gifted with extraordinary talents in the visual arts and architecture, and rumored to be so impassioned by his work as to go weeks on end without sleep, his talent was such that monumental commissions were forced upon him by the political and religious powers of the day, although he argued bitterly against the scale of such assignments. He became increasingly cantankerous with age, and in angry response to criticism of one commission in particular, famously painted himself into his vast Last Judgment as a flayed skin victimized by his patrons. Charm and affability were not in Michelangelo’s toolkit.
Fast forward five centuries and find now a completely different type of Italian genius. Shaped by mid-20th century forces in technology, and brought to full fruition in the fertile fields of Silicon Valley, Lucio Lanza exemplifies a third class in the taxonomy, one that encompasses the upsides of those 16th century icons – intelligence, creativity, a passion for innovation and work, a sense of history – without the downsides – egomania, rough irritability, inability to finish a project, or avoid a project too big to handle.
In the wake of two High-Renaissance Florentians, it took one High-Tech Milanese to fill out the taxonomy of Italian genius. Here in the 21st century, Lucio Lanza is in a modern class of his own.
Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
Exhibiting that unique combo of energy, hubris, and eloquence that’s the hallmark of Silicon Valley CEOs everywhere, Kathryn Kranen bid adieu to the EDA industry tonight. Sitting on the Cadence stage in conversation with Vista Ventures’ Jim Hogan – an event billed as part of EDAC’s ongoing Emerging Companies Series – Kranen walked the audience through highlights of her career, with special emphasis on the last 11 years serving as CEO at Jasper, a company she sold to Cadence earlier this year for a reported price of $174 million.
Up until the end of the evening, the exchange between these seasoned veterans of EDA proceeded as advertised – full of pithy advice on starting up startups, as well as enthusiastic endorsements of opportunities in the industry and good-natured banter between two highly successful people who know what it takes to grow and sell a company in high-tech. In the end, however, the evening turned out to be far, far more. It turned out to be Kathryn Kranen’s swan song in EDA.
Toward the end of her 90-minute interview with Hogan, things went historic when Kranen offered not only that she’s leaving Cadence just 4 months after the Jasper acquisition, but she’s leaving EDA completely. According to Kranen, she wants to serve at a company in the size range of Jasper, 100 to 150 employees, but enterprises of that scale are almost impossible to assemble these days in EDA. Since she wants to lead a moderately-sized company, but those options are not available here, she’s looking instead for opportunities outside the industry.
Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
The conversation will be historic on the evening of Wednesday, October 8th, when Cadence Design Systems hosts the next installment of EDAC’s Emerging Companies Series.
The conversation will be historic, because it will include the past history of Cadence interviewing the present and future history of Cadence; Jim Hogan was a Senior Vice President at the company in the 1990’s, and Kathryn Kranen is a Corporate Vice President and General Manager at the company today. What these two don’t know about Cadence, its past, present, and future – or the entire EDA industry for that matter – is truly not worth knowing.
And beyond these credentials, there’s the fact that both Kranen and Hogan could easily fill the 90 minutes of the session individually. They’re both great public speakers, and both own a plethora of insights about innovation, high-tech enterprise, Silicon Valley, raising and spending venture capital, the art and science of mergers and acquisitions, and taking companies public. These two epitomize the intelligence and instincts that create success in The Valley, with particular gifts of leadership in the EDA industry.
Thursday, September 25th, 2014
Last week I had a chance to chat by phone with Accellera Chair Shishpal Rawat, and when I say chance that’s accurate. Rawat is so busy these days, it’s hard to believe he has time for any extraneous conversations. Not only does he have a full-time job at Intel, he has been chair of Accellera for four years and now is ramping up to take over the reins at CEDA at well.
Among other activities, both Accellera and CEDA sponsor several key conferences in the industry. Accellera is the primary sponsor of the Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition (DVCon). I asked Shishpal about this year’s efforts to take DVCon on the road and how that dovetails with the changes he’s seen at Accellera over his years of leadership.
He said, “Without a doubt, the biggest change is the international outreach that we are now doing in our programs. DVCon will debut in Bangalore this month and will debut in Europe next month on October 14th and 15th in Munich. Expanding the conference this way has required a great deal of work on the part of local dedicated volunteers in both India and Europe, in addition to the efforts of our established corps of hardworking people. We expect a very big group of attendees at both of these shows, which adds to the work load for everyone involved.”
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
Open source EDA software has been of interest to many, albeit not all, for a number of years. The appeal is intuitive: price point, ability to modify code, ability to weigh in on the design and usability, and so on. The drawbacks are also intuitive: unstable code, insufficient and/or eccentric documentation, ebb and flow of volunteer developers, lack of long-term support for algorithms and code, inability to interact with customers at a detailed enough level to provide software that truly solves problems and supports design.
There are two other drawbacks as well. Open source software is difficult to monetize around and it’s the antithesis of all things proprietary. The EDA industry, however, is profoundly proprietary. End of story?
Surprisingly, no. If you google “Synopsys Open Source”, you’ll get a whole page of links with this intro: “The following open source software are included in one or more Synopsys FPGA software products. Each is a link to information and source code for the respective package. In addition, when required by the open source license agreement, source code or information on acquiring source code is also included with the software product.”