Thursday, June 11th, 2015
Something special happened Wednesday night this week at DAC, something magical in fact. Dozens of highly educated Design Automation professionals gathered for an intimate dinner in a private dining room at Kuleto’s on Powell Street in San Francisco for a first-time event.
Sponsored by the DAC EC and hosted by Dr. Soha Hassoun, Computer Science Department Chair at Tufts University in Boston, and Dr. Patrick Groeneveld, Synopsys Scientist and former CTO at Magma Design Automation, attendees included EE/CS professors from around the world, numerous post-doctoral fellows and PhD candidates, several 2015 Richard Newton Scholarship winner, as well as multiple design professionals from some of the largest commercial enterprises in EDA.
As attendees arrived, energized and/or exhausted from a long day at Day Three of DAC, Dr. Hassoun welcomed the gathering warmly and asked that people choose their seats carefully for the meal about to be served: Please do not sit next to anyone you already know!
Tuesday, June 9th, 2015
After a long day concentrating at DAC, it’s odd to spend the early hours of the evening at a DAC party. So much noise, loud music, silly carryings-on, when all one wants to do really is compose an essay about the impressions of the day.
So how about a compromise. Sit on the edge of the dance floor and write. Glass of lovely Sauvignon Blanc, plate of shrimp, an egg roll or two. It’s sorta like being in a coffee shop, but louder. Back in the day, Carlos Santana dated a high school friend of mine. Black Magic Woman, indeed. It’s like writing in a coffee shop called Time Warp.
So the point of this essay is specific. To capture as accurately as possible a thesis expressed to me an hour ago when I first came into this Love IP Party at Jillian’s, a pool and pub venue just across from Moscone Center. This particular Anonymous Source has seen everything in the EDA industry. Literally. And knows everyone. Literally. No joking.
His thesis? EDA (as we knew it) is over. Not dead, but over. Unequivocally.
Sunday, June 7th, 2015
Omygosh, DAC’s here again! Has it already been a year? Apparently yes, and apparently once again the Design Automation Conference is going to be great. And how does one know? Because once again the DAC Executive Committee is great, lead in 2015 by the more-than-capable Anne Cirkel (Mentor’s own). Everything from academia to industry, from networking to hard-core learning (read, ‘Nerd Alert!)’, from food and libation to product announcements: DAC is always special.
So today is Sunday, which in the world of DAC is a lovely day full of workshops for those interested in the newest, and social opportunities for those interested in the noshing and nattering. Sunday is also lovely, because it’s a moment for astonishing realizations, and this year’s 52nd DAC Sunday is no different. Here are my 10 favs:
10 — Per Stanford’s Philip Wong speaking in Workshop 2, carbon nanotubes are smooth which helps with mobility-restricting surface roughness and band-gap issues. Also CNTs are no longer “a bowl of spaghetti” when manufactured. Now they’re 99% orderly and courteously aligned. (read, ‘Is asking about the other 1% a legitimate question?’)
9 — EDA’s own Karen Bartleson of SNPS fame, has not only just completed 2 years of distinguished service as President of IEEE’s worldwide Standards Organization, she’s now been nominated to serve as President of the Whole Enchilada; Bartleson’s running for President of the IEEE itself. In a word, Wow!
8 — Design Automation Summer School, for those who have not been keeping up (read, ‘me’), is no longer a week-long confab in July. These days Summer School is a one-day event on DAC Sunday. Still highly attended and full of pithy content for The Young & The Restless in EDA.
Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
If you’re a Spanish speaker, the first image that comes to mind when someone says tortuga is a slow-moving animal in a shell. Alternatively, if you’re a kid at heart and love pirates, the first image that comes to mind when someone says Tortuga is Johnny Depp sashaying around the Caribbean channeling Keith Richards.
If you work in EDA and/or use EDA tools, however, now a new image should come to mind when someone says tortuga: The image of a secure, buttoned-down design that’s impervious to harm, malicious intent, or even too much eye-liner (for the Depp/Richards fans out there).
Because a new company has just come up over the horizon: Tortuga Logic.
Built on IP developed by like-minded thinkers at U.C. San Diego and Santa Barbara, Tortuga hopes to change the way the world deals with security issues — which, by the way, is an even bigger problem today than it was back when Captain Jack Sparrow was wreaking havoc on the Spanish Main.
Thursday, May 14th, 2015
There’s a perfect storm currently underway at the EDA Consortium based in Silicon Valley. First of all, after twenty years of distinguished service to the organization, the last ten as Executive Director, Robert Gardner is retiring. His leadership and talents will be sorely missed, as an industry expert and organizational wizard, and as as accomplished musician providing endless hours of sophisticated entertainment at countless EDAC events. Uniquify’s Bob Smith, himself an accomplished, well-known player in the EDA industry, has been tapped to take over for Gardner. [See our conversation below …]
Second of all, for the first time the consortium has two individuals serving simultaneously as chairman: Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan and PDF Solutions President & CEO John Kibarian. Although previously active on the board, neither of these gentlemen has served as EDAC co-Chair; all signs suggest that their joint efforts, and fortuitous synergy of design and manufacturing, are promoting fresh sensibilities and renewed commitments to collegiality across the EDAC membership.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, IP is the new black in EDA. When the consortium was initiated in the last millennium, the membership really was all about electronic design automation. Today, many ‘generations’ later, the name of the game in semiconductor design is reuse and third-party IP. And it’s in that spirit that both Sonics President & CEO Grant Pierce and ARM CEO Simon Segars are currently serving on the consortium’s Board of Directors, along with EDA stalwarts Mentor’s Wally Rhines, Synopsys’ Aart de Geus, IC Manage’s Dean Drako, and Atrenta’s Ajoy Bose.
And so the world turns: The EDA Consortium is undergoing profound changes, and in so doing reflects the evolutionary cataclysm overtaking the entire semiconductor design and manufacturing supply chain.
Thursday, April 30th, 2015
Board design is evolving quickly: The vendors who sell CAD tools to the people who design boards are working hard these days to keep up with the changing needs of their customers. That’s the unqualified conclusion I came away with after a number of phone calls over the last several weeks with the four of the biggest companies in the PCB design-tool industry: Zuken, Mentor Graphics, Cadence, and Altium.
These conversations were not only interesting, they were inspiring as well. The folks I talked to have been in the industry for a long time, and have a seasoned and intelligent understanding of the evolution of board designers and the tools that support their efforts. Here are the people I spoke with for this lengthy article:
Zuken: Bob Potock, VP Marketing; Humair Mandavia, Executive Director, SOZO Center
Mentor Graphics: Dave Wiens, PCB division business development
Cadence: Hemant Shah, Product Management Group Director
Altium: Dave Reed, Director of Product Marketing
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
If there’s something missing in your personal or professional knowledge of Moore’s Law, you should have spent 5 hours at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View on April 17, 2015, although even then you might not have learned anything new. For people in technology, seriously, what more is there to know?
The ‘law’, penned by Gordon Moore and published in an Electronics article on April 19, 1965, was based on his many years’ experience in the nascent-to-ferocious semiconductor industry, and has since been interpreted, re-interpreted, mis-interpreted, and zealously lionized – both the law and the man – over the last 50 years. Which brings us back to April 17th and the 3-part program at the CHM.
Monday, April 13th, 2015
Quarterly, as many of you know, the Market Statistics Service of the EDA Consortium reports out on the health of the industry. Quarterly, as well, Mentor CEO Dr. Walden Rhines makes himself available to the Press, to comment and elaborate on the EDAC results.
And so it was last Friday that I had a chance, yet again, to speak by phone with Rhines, always a conversation to look forward to. If you want to know how the EDA industry did in Q4_2014, you can scroll to the bottom of this blog. If you want to read a paraphrased snapshot of a wide-ranging discussion with Wally Rhines, however, it follows here.
WWJD – This debriefing thing must be quite tedious. How’s it going, and how’s EDA doing?
Rhines – This is only my second Press meeting, so not bad. The EDA industry [booked] record revenues for the fourth quarter of 2014, and the entire year, and showed a substantially higher rate of return than the semiconductor industry. The industry’s doing very well, with hiring up 6 percent on the year, and strong reporting from companies in IP and physical design and verification. There is some weakness in the numbers out of Japan, but they were offset by strong results in the PacRim and the Americas.
Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
Frank Schirrmeister, Group Director of Product Marketing for the System and Software Realization Group at Cadence, had just returned from DATE in Grenoble when we spoke several weeks ago about the philosophy and technology behind Cadence’s emulation business unit. First, however, we spoke about Grenoble.
I asked Frank if DATE had been a success this year and he said, “Absolutely, yes. It was very interesting as it has transformed from a generic show into more of a technical conference. So the focus now is on the sessions.
“Particularly interesting for me, I was chair for a session about tools for the IoT. Jan Rabaay from U.C. Berkeley, always a good speaker, gave a great presentation on wearable trends. NXP also participated, talking about the connected car, and ARM spoke about their embed OS for the edge nodes. Also among those topics, we talked about debug. It was all very good.”
Having enjoyed DATE many times myself, I asked Frank what he thought distinguished the conference from DAC. He said, “First of all, DATE was in Grenoble, which is always a great destination. Then, of course, at DATE you see the European point for view.
“For instance, I had a presentation for my session regarding automotive issues, and included material of interest to our customers in Japan and Europe. The share of semiconductors in cars from those markets focuses more on the mission-critical pieces in the design. The focus is different for automotive customers in North America, where it centers more on mobile connectivity within the vehicle.”
All of this being very interesting, I turned the conversation to the real reason for our phone call: To allow Frank to clarify emulation at Cadence.
Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
Last October, I had a lively conversation with Tanner EDA President Greg Lebsack. He was enthused about the company’s tools, technology innovations, and future. For that reason, it seemed surprising to hear that Tanner was acquired by Mentor Graphics. A close reading of the March 3, 2015, press announcement suggests Mentor intends to continue to support Tanner’s products despite a possible overlap between some of the tools of the two companies, fully acknowledged in the press release.
Mentor Graphics today announced it has acquired the business assets of Tanner EDA, a leading tool provider for the design, layout and verification of analog/mixed-signal and MEMS integrated circuits. With this acquisition, more designers will now have access to Tanner’s AMS products based on the strength and reach of the Mentor Graphics global sales organization. All Tanner EDA products as well as existing AMS products from Mentor will continue to be available and supported.
A quote from Greg Lebsack was included: “Tanner EDA has built an outstanding reputation as the price performance leader for the design, layout and verification of AMS ICs, MEMS and IoT devices. We are excited to join Mentor Graphics where we can leverage their extensive technology leadership and global footprint. We view this transaction as very positive for Tanner EDA’s customers, employees and the industry as a whole.”
I have no doubt that President Lebsack backed the sentiments attributed to him, but it’s hard to understand how melding the tools from Tanner into the Mentor armamentum is good for Tanner’s customers, or the industry as a whole.