Thursday, May 5th, 2016
Luckily I arrived late to EDPS in Monterey on Friday, April 22, because I did not hear the introduction of the first keynote speaker or hear his name. A good thing, as it turns out. The speaker was a technologist who doesn’t embrace technology when it’s used as a tool for intrusions into our lives. He’s concerned about how our private facts have become part of the public fabric, accessible to anyone who knows how to navigate the Cloud.
And so, in the spirit of Life imitating Art, I’m not going to list his name here. That detail is fully available on the EDPS website, but it will not be articulated here. What will be articulated here, however, is the audience reaction to the Keynoter’s comments. The audience became part of the presentation, with the keynote address quickly morphing into a round table discussion, a group therapy session for technology whiz-kids who worry about the increasingly public nature of our private lives in this digital, always-connected era.
Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
Last year at DAC in San Francisco, Synopsys’ Patrick Groeneveld and TUM Create’s Sebastian Steinhorst gave an afternoon tutorial addressing the energy equations around the current spate of electric vehicles. One of the most information-packed sessions I’ve ever attended at DAC, it reflected an enormous amount of work on the part of the two presenters.
Now here in April 2016, rumor and information in the press about EVs is really on the upswing. Apple is developing an EV in various top-secret locations scattered about Silicon Valley, a rumor supported by the company hiring Tesla’s VP of Vehicle Engineering Chris Porritt. Tesla has its own dramatic announcement: As of mid-April, they’ve received upwards of 400,000 pre-production orders for their new $35,000 Model 3 sedan.
My recent phone call with Patrick Groeneveld was an opportunity to further understand the current EV landscape: We began with the Tesla news.
Thursday, April 21st, 2016
Just as Auguste Rodin revived the art of sculpture at the end of the 19th century in Europe, and Wynton Marsalis rescued the art of jazz by the end of the 20th century in America, here in the 21st century University of Illinois CS professor Rob Rutenbar is resurrecting the art of teaching VLSI design around the world.
He’s doing that via his Coursera-based online class entitled VLSI CAD: Logic to Layout, a course with an enrollment that defies comprehension. Per Rutenbar’s own whimsy: “There are about 25,000 people working in the EDA industry today. About 55,000 of them have signed up for my class.”
I had a chance to speak by phone with Dr. Rutenbar earlier this week. He was sitting in his office in Urbana-Champaign, but looking out an academic landscape that encompasses the entire world.
[hint: a MOOC is a Massively Open Online Course.]
Thursday, April 14th, 2016
The DAC family has lost another loved one. University of Pittsburgh ECE professor Steve Levitan passed away in early March and is going to be missed terribly in Austin in June.
I had a chance to interview Dr. Levitan in late 2006, as he was ramping up to serve as General Chair of the 44th DAC, and found him to be very sincere and down-to-earth. He was clearly one of those rare individuals who respected the balance between academia and industry, and how each sphere plays an equally critical role in pushing the envelope in electronic design automation. The text of that interview is available below.
Earlier this week, I received a note from Soha Hassoun, Professor and Chair of Computer Science at Tufts and General Chair of the 51st DAC in 2013. Professor Hassoun said that she and Penn State CSE Professor Mary Jane Irwin have written a very nice article memorializing Steve Levitan, set to be published in the May/June issue of IEEE Design and Test magazine.
Thursday, April 7th, 2016
Several weeks ago, before the EDA Consortium was re-branded as the ESD Alliance, I had a chance to speak by phone with Bob Smith, Executive Director of the organization. I started by asking what concerned him the most about the re-launch. Bob was too optimistic to pick up on that negative note.
Instead he said, “It looks like we’re going to have a really good turnout for our event next week on March 30th, with well over 100 people expected. We are billing the evening as 90-percent social and only 10-percent business. I’ll speak for about 5 minutes and no longer, introducing the new name for EDAC.
“Mostly we want to have a get-together where people who haven’t seen each for a long time can enjoy catching up. We honestly hope that people will just have a good time. Also, it’s great that a number of the board members will be there.”
Thursday, March 31st, 2016
As much as the energetic re-branding of the EDA Consortium is to be admired, the name of the new organization is causing distress: If you want to find out more about the newly launched ESD Alliance, your online search will be fraught with angst. Why?
Thursday, March 24th, 2016
To speak with Herb Reiter about the rationale for multi-die packaging is a chance to follow a logical and energetic continuum from first principles to a final conclusion. Namely, that as the era of the ASIC subsides, the era of the multi-die package will arrive full force.
Reiter, President of eda 2 asic, will be reiterating this line of thinking, in conjunction with a panel of like-minded experts, at the upcoming EDPS conference in Monterey on April 21st. In anticipation of that session – “Multi-Die IC Design and Application” – we spoke by phone this week. The conversation was compelling.
Thursday, March 17th, 2016
Mentor Graphics’ Tom Fitzpatrick gave a lunchtime talk at DVCon several weeks ago summarizing recent efforts to build a standard [set of standards?] around portable stimulus for verification. The room was packed with over 200 people and his talk was sufficiently complete, nobody asked any questions.
After his presentation, however, I did hear some comments. Namely that these types of standards are quite complex and difficult to develop. Hence, setting an actual delivery date of January 2017 for Portable Stimulus Standard Version 1 [PSS V1] is quite aggressive and optimistic.
I was not fully informed about Accellera’s Portable Stimulus Working Group [PSWG] prior to Fitzpatrick’s talk, so could not judge whether January 2017 is or is not overly optimistic as a delivery date for the standard. Since DVCon, I have studied the slides and attempted to better understand what this is all about: What is a Portable stimulus and what would a set of standards look like?
Thursday, March 10th, 2016
You would probably have learned more about Ajoy Bose by reading his biography than by attending Jim Hogan’s gentle exercise in collegiality on Tuesday night, March 1st, in Silicon Valley. The conversation between these two giants of EDA, hosted by EDAC as part of DVCon week, was consistently unstructured, whimsical and seemingly without outline.
The next day, I sat in a coffee shop and struggled to find a handle with which to write a coherent summary of the previous night’s random access memory album. But that handle would not reveal itself.
Then I happened to glance over to a nearby table where another caffeine addict was buried in a book: The Man Behind the Microchip. I asked the addict who exactly was the subject of the book and the answer came back: Robert Noyce.
So Robert Noyce is the man behind the microchip, I pondered. The only man behind the microchip? Like Steve Jobs invented the iPod/iPad/iPhone? Or Thomas Edison invented the electric light?
No wonder, I realized, it was hard to get a handle on the previous night’s Hogan/Bose interview. They didn’t do anything. Robert Noyce did it all. And without help. Hogan and Bose did nothing, and ergo had nothing to offer their audience.
These two were not part of a vast conspiracy of contributors, all adding their particular drips and drops of innovation into the trickle of technology, that rolled into a small creek of creativity, that ran into a moderate-sized stream of science-turned-engineering, which poured into a roaring river of real change, which crashed into a seething sea of twenty-first century digital life.
Of course, that’s nonsense. Robert Noyce did not do everything, and Hogan and Bose did not do nothing.
Wednesday, February 24th, 2016
Emulation is everything in verification today and therefore at the center of DVCon. Technology expert, Lauro Rizzatti, has prepared this brief tutorial for you, so you’ll be ready for the conference that starts on February 29th.
* The Past
Hardware emulation has been around for 3 decades. It started in the mid 80s with pioneers like Quickturn and Ikos, who used off-the-shelf FPGAs in the fabric of their emulators. The second decade saw the rise of several startups, some of them using custom silicon devices in the emulators.