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Glioblastoma: SynBio, AI, Medical Science, 11th Commandment, and the Future of Thought

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

 


During a recent reunion of immediate family members in North Carolina
, we received devastating news that a nephew out in California, a husband and father of three, had just been diagnosed with a glioblastoma, one of the most horrifically aggressive types of cancer.

Back in North Carolina, the reunion group included a nursing administrator, an MD specializing in genetics, a computer scientist expert in AI and ML, two bio-pharma research chemists – one an expert in CAD tools for protein synthesis and the other with expertise in targeted chemo therapies for oncology – as well as a couple of electrical engineers thrown in for good measure.

In other words, it was a custom-built conference for discussing cell physiology, brain function, clinical protocols, targeted therapies, genetic mutation, and the emerging science and software of semiconductor-based artificial intelligence and neuromorphic computing.

What the conference attendees wanted was to give hope to the nephew in California, despite the brutal reality of the current state of the art of treatments for virulently malignant brain tumors. However, after many hours of discussion in North Carolina the group concluded that the situation in California was dire, even hopeless, given what is currently known about glioblastoma.

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Blue Pearl: Best kept Secret in EDA

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

 


Silicon Valley based Blue Pearl Software
is the quintessential EDA company: privately held, run by a seasoned team of EDA experts, and with a portfolio that includes tools for generating timing constraints, CDC analysis, both synchronous and asynchronous, RTL verification tools for methodology standards and design rules, and design management tools.

Similarly, Blue Pearl’s Ellis Smith is the quintessential CEO in EDA. Before founding his current company, Smith was CEO and President of Orora Design Technologies, CEO at TransEDA through that company’s IPO in 2000, and CEO at Exemplar Logic through its merger with Mentor Graphics in 1995. His experience also includes a stint as CEO at CrossCheck Technology, and years spent at Duet Technologies, CADAM, Versatec, Dictaphone, and 3M. Pretty much the whole history of the EDA industry in one CV.

It would be an excellent idea to sit down for a very long conversation with Ellis Smith to discuss his take on the history of this oh-so-interesting industry. Unfortunately, time was of the essence when I did get the chance to talk with him earlier this month, and the focus was principally on Blue Pearl.

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Real Intent: Leveraging on Investments

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

 


Prakash Narain is a long-standing member of the EDA community
, having helped found Real Intent in 1999. In August 2016, I interviewed Dr. Narain at length about the technology at the core of the company. This week we spoke again, starting with an update of the company’s announcements around DAC in June, which involve further advancements in clock-domain crossing analysis and sign-off.

Real Intent must be doing something right, because Narain seems as enthused about the prospects for his company as someone who has just launched a tech start-up. It takes stamina and courage to sustain that optimism, and market success. Narain says his organization has both.

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PDF Solutions: The Rock of Ages

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

 


John Kibarian has been involved with PDF Solutions since co-founding
the company in 1991 in Pittsburgh, through its relocation to California in 1996, through the IPO in 2001, and on into today. He’s been CEO since 2000. PDF Co-founder Kimon Michaels has also been with the company since the beginning, and currently serves as VP of Products and Solutions.

As well, CMU Professor Andrzej Strojwas [2016 Phil Kaufman Award recipient] has been PDF’s Chief Technical Advisor from the beginning — not surprising considering he served as Kibarian’s PhD thesis adviser at CMU — and Lucio Lanza has been on the board of directors for 20 years, serving as Chairman since 2004.

PDF is a company that defines stability, steady growth, and an intellectually rigorous and serious-minded approach to solving problems. It’s not a company of self-promoters or grand-standers. It’s a company of highly accomplished technologists, deeply involved in one of the toughest jobs in semiconductors: Finding out why chip yields are good, bad or ugly, and figuring out how that data might be used to improve design and manufacturing.

The last time I interviewed John Kibarian, it was 2015 and PDF Solutions had just acquired Syntricity a company with yield-improvement technology and services for the IC process life cycle.

This time when Kibarian and I spoke, PDF had just acquired several assets of Kinesys Software, including its ALPS (Assembly Line Production Supervisor) software, “designed to enable complete manufacturing traceability, including individual devices and substrates, through the entire assembly and packaging processes” – capabilities which PDF plans to integrate with their Exensio big data analytics platform.

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Solido’s Recipe: Platform, Patents, Customers, Poise

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

 


Amit Gupta is the quintessential entrepreneur in EDA.
Even as he was graduating with degrees in EE and CS from University of Saskatchewan, he was co-founding Analog Design Automation, targeted at those who need tools to automate analog chip design. That was in 1999. The company was sold to Synopsys in 2004, and then Gupta co-founded Solido Design Automation in 2005.

This week, I had a chance to speak at length with Amit Gupta. The last time we conversed, it was at the January 2017 Kaufman Award dinner for Dr. Andres Strojwas in San Jose. That evening, Gupta was enthused about Solido’s access to high-quality engineering talent in Canada, and argued that the cost of living and quality of life in Saskatoon, where Solido is headquartered, more than compensate for any sense that Silicon Valley is the epicenter of the industry. His enthusiasm has only grown since that time.

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Managing Faults: OneSpin’s Dave Kelf talks ISO 26262

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

 


In a recent conversation with OneSpin’s Dave Kelf
, he laughed when I asked him to characterize the complexities of meeting functional safety standards when developing automotive electronics. “It’s a whole rat’s nest of certification,” he said, “and as an industry we’re not there yet.

“However, at OneSpin we have a good handle now on what you need to do to make these cars safe. We’ve been working for quite a while with Bosch, Infineon, and other companies that really have a good idea of what needs to happen with the chips in cars to make them safe.

“In fact, a large part of the regulations come from these guys because they’re the experts, along with some level of government oversight, in trying to make sense of it all.”

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Fall Schedule: A Host of Must-attends

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

 


School started for many kids this week
, which means family vacation time is over and you’ll need something else to fill your days. Attending conferences is always a good idea, and although the viability of conferences has been thoroughly questioned in the past, that concern has proven unwarranted.

No matter that the whole intent of your industry is to port more and more facets of our lives into the digital realm, learning and networking are still best done on human terms, starting and ending with a handshake. It turns out people like to talk to each other face-to-face, and hear from their colleagues in live settings whenever possible. Listed below are numerous chances to do just that.

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Diversity: Really, who cares

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

 


Recently, two items have been in the news.
One was the Pride Parade in San Francisco, which featured floats from Google, Intel, Apple, and Amazon, accompanied by at least a thousand employees of each respective company marching west on Market Street to Civic Center Plaza.

The second item was the now widely-read manifesto from a former Google employee declaring that woman are biologically unfit to contribute to technology. The manifesto and its fallout triggered a billion words of reaction, not the least being finger-pointing at the companies who participated in the Pride Parade, along with suggestions that these companies have been corrupted by political correctness and need to be replaced.

So there you have it: Two diametrically opposed views of the world. What is the tech sector to do with itself?

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EDPS 2017: After changes, Hidden Gem no longer

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

 


Of all of the EDA-related conferences that have taken place over the years
, one of the very best has probably been one of the least well-known.

EDPS – the Electronic Design Process Symposium – has been held for the last 24 years in the spring in Monterey. The beloved destination of the late, great Gary Smith, EDPS has been host to some of the most informed conversations, esteemed speakers, and highest caliber content in EDA. Ever.

And now – proving that it actually is possible to improve Best in Class – the organizers of EDPS have made two radical changes, changes that will have far-reaching impact for the conference and its excellent content.

For the first time this year, EDPS is going to be in Milpitas, not 2 hours south in Monterey, and the conference is going to be happening in September, not April.

This is great news. Now people who live and work in Silicon Valley can more easily access the 2-day program and can more readily partake of the content. And those flying in from out-of-town can get to the conference venue more quickly without a long, strenuous drive to the coast.

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Functional Safety: ISO, IEC, my Dishwasher, your Car

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

 


In a great moment of situational irony
, I was at my laptop intensely researching details of ISO 26262 in preparation for writing a blog about a recent conversation with OneSpin’s Dave Kelf when there was a shout from the kitchen: “The dishwasher’s smoking!”

I jumped up and ran to the kitchen. “It’s just steam,” I mocked, and opened the dishwasher door to prove my point. Lots of steam.

When I re-closed the door, however, the dishwasher did not start back up. The buttons atop the door wouldn’t take any input commands. Reaching under the sink, I unplugged the dishwasher and plugged it back in. Rebooted, the dishwasher now accepted the Start command, and I returned to my study to work further on ISO 26262.

“It’s still smoking!” someone yelled from the kitchen.

Again I jumped up and ran to the kitchen, jerked opened the dishwasher door and yep, it was indeed burning, internally.

Rancid smoke was coming up out of the vent holes at the top of the door, just adjacent to the cycle-select buttons. Reaching under the sink one more time, I quickly unplugged the dishwasher and then went to get a screwdriver.

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