Thursday, February 20th, 2014
These are good days for virtual prototyping vendor, UK-based Imperas. The company will be making appearances this coming week at Embedded World in Nuremberg, at DVCon in San Jose the following week, and at CDNLive in Santa Clara the week after that, as well as several events in the UK in this same time frame. Imperas has a lot to talk about, including an announcement involving MIPS, a division of Imagination Technologies.
Per CEO Simon Davidmann in a recent phone call: “We’re small, self-funded and growing, with revenues last year up 65 percent. [Even better], the type of customers we’re seeing are tier-one semiconductor and embedded systems companies. We want to help people build better software. No one builds a chip without simulation, and we believe software development should be done like that as well.”
I asked about the competition. Simon answered, “It’s true, other people have models in the same space as ours – companies like Synopsys, Cadence and ARM – but we tend to cooperate with them. Our real competition is legacy breadboards, and kick-it-and-see techniques, rather than proper methodologies.
“For most complex SoCs, many people try to develop software with simulation at the RTL level, or with a hardware-accelerator box, but those approaches don’t get the throughput of software and performance they need. And with a prototype, they don’t get the controllability and observability. That’s why most of our competition is the legacy mindset in the customers.”
Thursday, February 13th, 2014
If ever there was a year when you thought to attend DVCon, this should be it, according to a recent phone call with Cadence Fellow Stan Krolikoski, serving as General Chair for the second year in a row. That’s because DVCon 2014 will be serving up the D and the V in equal measure, and won’t be skewed towards the V in DVCon as it has been [perhaps] in the past.
Per Stan, “We’ve gotten feedback every year from attendees that they want more emphasis on design. They say they like verification, but they want more design, so last year I gave marching orders to the Technical Program Committee [headed by Paradigm Works’ Ambar Sarkar] that they should add more people on the review committee who represent design.
“It’s actually been a long time in coming. Although last year was the 25th anniversary of the conference, 10 years ago the name was changed to DVCon. Prior to that, it was HDLCon and the content reflected that name. When the name was changed to DVCon it was supposed to include both design and verification, but [functional verification emerged as the larger focus].”
That focus meant that those types of experts tended to dominate attendance, according to Stan, but that’s been fixed this year: “We will still have excellent functional verification sessions at DVCon – everything for the beginner through to the guru, it’s all there – but we will also have sessions on low-power design, on analog/mixed signal, and on system-level design, as well as IP integration. We’re clearly moving away from just verification in adding lots of design content to the program that’s of interest to our audience.”
Thursday, February 6th, 2014
When it comes to talking about Forte Design, only one word comes to mind: Classy. There’s always been a consistency of messaging, spirit and optimism comprising the public face of Forte, and no small part of that has been the spirit and personable styling of the VP of Marketing & Sales, that ultimate ESL Evangelist, Brett Cline.
Late yesterday afternoon, when I saw in an email blast from Semiconductor Engineering that Forte had been sold to Cadence, I was astonished [oh no, not another company sucked into the EDA Consolidation Vortex !?!], so I shot an email off to Brett and asked if he could make time for a phone call. True to form, he called me at 6 pm California time, which was 9 pm in snowy Massachusetts where Brett lives and works.
For the next 20 minutes, I listened to what has become the new normal in EDA: A great, albeit smallish company was made a “very fair offer” and although it may not have been the exit I myself would have predicted some years ago for Forte, Brett said that selling the company to a large EDA player is, today, the right and true decision for good leadership of good smallish companies in the industry.
All that being said, I noted an undercurrent of wistfulness in Brett’s voice. He wanted me to know how very much Forte Design has been run like a family company, that he felt about his co-workers at Forte as if they were family, and the fact that not all of them will be moving over to Cadence with the acquisition was making him profoundly sad last night. Profoundly sad.
Nonetheless, Brett and his co-execs at Forte will be moving to Cadence and the opportunities there, per Brett, are marvelous. He admires Cadence and is glad, given that Forte was going to be sold, that Cadence is where they’re landing. He admires the corporate culture at Cadence, thinks the management there respects the skills and technology being acquired with Forte, and thinks that not only is it a win for Cadence, but it’s a total win for Forte’s legions of loyal customers around the world.
Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Yesterday was awash in poignancy. If you’re online a lot, you learned around noon California time that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had died suddenly in NYC of an apparent overdose. The news really gave pause, particularly because it turns out he was so much younger than he looked, because the young people in my life really thought him a great actor and were stunned by his death, and because it gave evidence, yet again, that people of fame and legendary talent are also often so completely human and frail.
And, I was a big fan of Amy Winehouse. My friends and family knew that about me. When she died 3 years ago, I actually received condolence notes because they knew how I felt about her voice and her talent, and they were sad about it for me. Oddly, we somehow feel very personally connected to famous people. We feel we really know them, how strange. People wept for John Kennedy, for Abraham Lincoln, for Paul Walker, for Heath Ledger, for Marilyn Monroe, yet I’m pretty sure that most of those grieving never actually met the person they mourned.
Thursday, January 23rd, 2014
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away the EDA Empire began and quickly coalesced into several big players and a band of plucky startups constantly attempting to compete and stay viable.
Back in that halcyon era, Rick Carlson and Dave Millman decided to get those startups to pull as one, to try to keep the industry open and progressing, to protect the EDA industry as a place where new ideas could see the light of day and offerings from small companies could compete on a level playing field against those from the big players.
To do that, Rick and Dave came up with the idea for a consortium of Independent Design Automation Companies, IDAC, and put out the word to like-minded colleagues that this new group would benefit everybody. Creating IDAC proved more difficult than they had hoped, so letting pragmatism rule the day they approached Joe Costello for help, then CEO of Cadence, even though that meant working with one of the ‘big guys’ and hence, EDAC came to fruition.
To hear the rest of the story per Rick, recounted in a phone call in December, click here.
To hear the story recounted by Joe Costello, read below. I spoke with both Joe and Rick together on a conference call in mid-January.
Revolution from within …
Joe began: “Rick told me he’s concerned that in his recent conversation with you about the history of EDAC, he may have sounded too harsh. I said that’s not possible, because the truth about the industry is quite harsh. Just thinking about it makes my blood boil.
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
Before there was EDAC, there was IDAC. But before there was IDAC, there was just DA – Design Automation without Community or Consortium. The EDA industry consisted of a small number of large companies controlling the conversation, and a larger number of smaller companies who thought that if they linked hands they could do it better. It was Rick Carlson and Dave Millman who decided in 1986 to bring that group of small companies together to create IDAC, which stood for Independent Design Automation Companies.
According to Carlson, speaking on a recent phone call, “We wanted to get the small independent companies to work together in a cooperative way to deliver a solution, a flow, that was equal to or better than the big companies. And because even then, the leading-edge algorithms always came out of these small startups, we thought we had good solutions that the customers would appreciate.
“But there was a deeper, more fundamental issue that we hoped to solve by creating IDAC and that was how to grow the industry and foster innovation, whether in through a startup or an established player.”
Things didn’t work out exactly like Carlson and Millman had hoped for.
Thursday, January 16th, 2014
With this week’s news of Google’s $3+ billion purchase of NEST, the connected home, the Internet of Things [IoT], and the Smart Grid are moving to an even higher level of public awareness. The European design automation community has showcased that awareness for some time at DATE, with multiple sessions each year addressing issues related to the optimization of power distribution and usage at all levels of abstraction within the digital ecosystem. This year is no different. Sessions in Dresden in late March at DATE 2014 include:
* Green Computing Systems: Design experiences in industrial or academic projects with high industrial relevance or high environmental impact, chaired by Boston University’s Ayse Coskun and University of Bologna’s Martino Ruggiero.
* Automotive Systems and Smart Energy Systems: Design experiences for automotive systems, smart energy systems, energy scavenging and harvesting for embedded systems, chaired by University of Trento’s Davide Brunelli and NXP’s Bart Vermeulen.
* Cyber-Physical Systems: Modeling, design, architecture, optimization and analysis of CPS — chaired by Braunschweig Technical University’s Rolf Ernst and MIT’s Anuradha Annaswamy
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013
Kid you not, it’s only five months and a week until DAC comes around again. How can that be? Weren’t we just in Austin yesterday? Well, there you go. That darned sun keeps rising and setting, rising and setting, and now we’re slipping into the New Year and racing from there straight on to DAC. In San Francisco.
Wow, San Francisco? You mean that place where a single helping of French Toast served up at your customer breakfast will cost you $43, before tax and gratuity? That place where if you need just one small additional spot to light up your booth, it’s going to cost you a cool five grand to get it installed? You mean that place where hip young techies spend their nights and weekends, but spend their work weeks 40 miles south where they grind away pushing the envelope, so your mobile device can be cooler and cheaper and more beautiful? You mean San Francisco which, more than a place on the map, is a state of mind? One that has nothing to do with the state of mind that shows up for DAC.
Here’s an idea. Let’s change that. Let’s fix that state of mind. Why can’t DAC be so cool that those young techies will call in sick and stay in town on the days when DAC’s at Moscone next year? Why can’t design automation be so compelling that the generation that’s usually riding their big private commuter buses an hour south to work will show up instead at Moscone on June 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th and beg to be let in, beg to be allowed to see what the future of hardware really is.
Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Who says the last week before the holidays needs to be dull: Mentor Graphics has just announced it’s acquiring Oasys Design Systems.
* The Money: “Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.”
There’s a surprise.
* The Technology: “Oasys RealTime is a next-generation RTL physical synthesis technology [that] enables faster turnaround times and the capacity to synthesize the entire top level of the largest designs, all while being physically aware for better correlation with physical design. Its ‘placement first’ synthesis methodology and integrated RTL floorplanning capability enable physical backend issues to be analyzed and addressed at RTL stages before hand-off to the back-end groups for physical design implementation.”
Turns out the conversation [read “innovation”] in EDA around synthesis, P&R and whack-a-mole is still underway.
* Mentor’s Interest in Synthesis: “This acquisition aligns with Mentor’s goal to deliver a best-in-class digital implementation platform to address the performance, power and area challenges at advanced nodes.”