Thursday, October 19th, 2017
Copenhagen-based Teklatech is such an interesting example of an EDA company: similar in many ways to other organizations in the ecosystem, but highly unusual as it is based in Denmark. When Founder & CEO Tobias Bjerregaard and I spoke by phone this month, he began with the motivation for his company’s technology.
The discussion then moved to the business challenges within EDA, a topic that Bjerregaard said he always enjoys discussing. As he feels that Teklatech is providing critical solutions for today’s semiconductor designs, it’s not surprising that his enthusiasm here is palpable, for the industry and the trends that drive it.
Thursday, October 12th, 2017
DVCon Europe 2017 will be in Munich next week, a great destination for tourists and technologists alike. This is the fourth year the conference will occur in Europe, the original Silicon Valley based version now in its 27th year.
DVCon Europe General Chair Oliver Bell and I spoke this week by phone about the upcoming event; he was in Germany and I was in Northern California. I offered that Munich is a beautiful city, and he agreed.
“The conference will be in downtown Munich,” Bell said, “at the Holiday Inn. This is a really nice hotel, located near to Marienplaz, and easily reachable from public transportation.”
Bell then laughed and acknowledged that, as famous as the city’s Oktoberfest may be, it’s better that DVCon is being held several weeks after that particular annual exuberance has run its course. The city’s just that much more calm and enjoyable, he noted, after the hundreds of thousands of Oktoberfest revelers have returned to their normal pursuits.
Thursday, October 5th, 2017
Taking guidance from their website, Silicon Valley based Helic provides “EDA software that mitigates the risk of electromagnetic crosstalk in high-speed and low-power SOC designs.”
The company’s products include VeloceRF, an inductive device compiler and modeling tool which provides DRC clean devices for geometries as low as 10 nanometers; RaptorX, a pre-LVS electromagnetic modeling tool; and Exalto, a post-LVS RLCk extraction tool that captures unknown crosstalk including electrical, magnetic, and substrate coupling.
In other words, Helic is a company with a very technical portfolio of products, which can be daunting if one wants to speak with the leadership.
But that was not the real problem posed during my recent conversation with Helic President and CEO Yorgos Koutsoyannopoulos. The last time the two of us spoke, he made a bet I could not pronounce his name correctly. I won that bet, although Koutsoyannopoulos then proceeded to pronounce my name correctly as well, something that fewer than 1-in-10 in EDA can actually do.
Alas during our recent conversation – the one documented below – the Helic CEO could still pronounce my last name correctly, but I stumbled over his.
In my defense, Koutsoyannopoulus has 16 letters, 56% of which are vowels, and I hadn’t practiced in advance of our call. My last name only has 8 letters, but 63% of them are vowels, so mine is actually more difficult to pronounce. I should not have let Yorgos best me in this contest. Next time I will be better prepared.
Thursday, September 28th, 2017
Vic Kulkarni is well-known in the EDA community as co-Founder, CEO and President of Sequence Design from 1995 until the company merged with Apache in 2009, which in turn was acquired by ANSYS in 2011. Kulkarni is now VP and Chief Strategist in the Office of CTO for the Semiconductor Business Unit at ANSYS.
There is little Kulkarni has not seen in his 30+ years in Silicon Valley. Although our conversation here mostly highlights current successes at ANSYS, it’s clear he continues to be wildly enthused about the broader promises of technology and the exciting efforts underway to create tools and strategies to bring those promises to fruition. Vik Kulkarni’s enthusiasm is the kind of thing that continues to make this industry so vibrant, and makes careers herein appealing for the next generation of engineers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”