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.”
Thursday, August 28th, 2014
With the advent of September, the fall conference season begins. Here are some upcoming meetings you may want to attend.
* DesignCon China – September 2-5 – Shenzhen
Last year close to 13,000 attended ICC-China. Expect even more to attend this year.
* Mentor Graphics Forum – September 3 & 5 – Shanghai & Beijing
Keynote will be given by Mentor CEO Dr. Wally Rhines, followed by President of ARM Greater China Allen Wu talking about the next 10 billion chips to be manufactured in China.
* IDF14: Intel Developers Forum – September 9-11 – San Francisco
Intel CEO Brain Krzanich will give opening keynote, followed by lots of talk about the IoT.
* PCB West 2014 – September 9-11 – Santa Clara
The most important conference of the year for board designers.
* Mentor U2U Automotive – September 10 – Dearborn
The debut of a new Mentor User2User event focusing on one of Mentor’s favorite core competencies.
Monday, August 25th, 2014
Thirty two hours ago, the earth let loose here in Northern California delivering up a 6.0 earthquake 5 miles southwest of Napa in the heart of the wine country. It was the biggest earthquake we’ve experienced in the region since the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, which was a 6.9 on the Richter scale.
The thing about earthquakes is that they come on you suddenly, which is scarier than hell. Nonetheless, at a Sunday afternoon party yesterday in Silicon Valley, where the earthquake was felt even though the epicenter was 80 miles away, a Bay Area native said, “We may not know an earthquake’s coming, but I’d still rather live here than in places where they’ve got tornadoes. Now those are really scary!”
Ironically, on local radio this morning a geologist based in the Midwest was being interviewed about yesterday’s South Napa quake and concluded by saying, “You know, we may have tornadoes in our area, and they are pretty darn scary, but I’d far rather live here than where you guys are. At least we have warning when a tornado’s bearing down on us!”
But is that implication true? Is there no such thing as a warning prior to an earthquake? Well, for those of us who live in Earthquake Country, we are beginning to think [hope] differently.
Thursday, August 14th, 2014
SIGDA is ACM’s Special Interest Group on Design Automation. They do lots of great stuff including organizing workshops and conferences, distributing and maintaining tool benchmarks, supporting the ACM Transactions on Design Automation, and perhaps most importantly, encouraging graduate students to pursue productive careers in EDA by way of the University Booth and PhD Forum at DAC.
This year’s SIGDA PhD Forum was held Tuesday evening, June 3rd, in San Francisco at DAC. Basically a large poster session, Room 104 in Moscone Center was packed from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm with students, professors, and industry colleagues. It’s well-known that grad students come running whenever there’s free food, so given that a buffet dinner was part of the evening’s entertainment it’s not surprising there was a lively turnout for the event. However, grad students also love a good competition and the PhD Forum had that as well.
Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
Amidst this terrible summer of death in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, Ukraine, Gaza, Sudan, Syria and Iraq, how can we be so narcissistic as to mourn the death of an entertainer, a man who did nothing more than ham it up on stage and in front of the camera?
I’ll tell you how. It was Robin Williams. A man who was far more about the wistful, sun-and-fog-filled spirit of the Bay Area, than he ever was about the glitz and gluttony of Hollywood. A product of this region, a neighbor, and a most-beloved native son, he was our Robin Williams. Someone who reflected our eclectic tastes, our egalitarian nature, our breezy weather, our naughty frantic energy, and the boundless opportunities here to stretch one’s imaginations, talents, and zany innovations to the limit.