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Simon Davidmann: A re-energized Imperas Tutorial at DAC

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

 


Impersas CEO Simon Davidmann lead a tutorial
at the Design Automation Conference last month in Austin. Prior to his presentation, we spoke by phone about the content of that tutorial.

“It’s a simple message we’re presenting at DAC,” Davidmann said, “but an important one. If you’re a semiconductor guy building a chip, your customers want to know what components are being used, but you also have to build the software that runs on top of it.

“There’s a lot of challenge, however, in getting an operating system up and running on the hardware and the problem extends to hardware-dependent software. Even the lowest level bits become part of the operating systems. So our tutorial is about what you need to do this work, about how to get hardware-dependent software running.”

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Martin, Lavagno, Scheffer, Markov: Assembling a Mighty Tome for the Ages

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

 


It was a great pleasure to sit down recently with Grant Martin
– Distinguished Engineer in the Tensilica R&D/IP Group at Cadence – to discuss the 2nd edition of the 2-book compendium he is so closely associated with:

Volume 1: Electronic Design Automation for IC System Design, Verification, and Testing
Volume 2: Electronic Design Automation for IC Implementation, Circuit Design, and Process Technology

Grant Martin did not assemble and edit these mighty tomes as a sole practitioner. Also listed on the covers are Luciano Lavagno, Louis Scheffer, and Igor Markov – representing, respectively, the Politecnico di Torino, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and University of Michigan.

All four of these remarkably accomplished technologists had a hand in the newest edition, although according to Grant Martin, it was he, Lavagno, and Scheffer who oversaw the original effort in 2006.

When the publisher suggested an update to the set in 2011 – 5 years on – it ended up taking so much longer, it was actually 10 years before the 2nd edition was complete. Meanwhile, Prof. Markov had joined in on the work in 2014, so was appropriately added to the list of editors in 2016.

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Millennials v. Robots: The Race to destroy EDA

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

 


It’s happening. EDA is on its way out, and for good reason.
The Millennials are lazy, can’t write or spell, don’t take direction well [if at all], don’t feel connected to The Corporation or relish reporting to The Man, and are annoyingly obsessed with work-life balance. A useless lot. What’s EDA going to do with them?

Nothing.

Instead, EDA’s going to turn to the vast armies of young worker bees coding away in geographies other than Northern California, Austin, Boston or Portland.

EDA is turning to the geographies where people are more concerned about career growth than work-life balance, and that’s usually on the other side of the International Date Line.

And really – it’s not like EDA doesn’t already know the way to those places. How many thousands of the 30k people ostensibly working in EDA today already work on the opposite side of the world from the hallowed ground where the Millennials are beginning to hold sway?

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Upverter’s Zak Homuth: On-demand Engineering to Assist Design

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

 


It’s impossible not to enjoy a fast-paced conversation
with Upverter co-Founder and CEO Zak Homuth. Upverter offers a collaborative, cloud-based PCB design tool, and now this month has added EE Concierge.

Homuth started our recent phone call by referencing a conversation we had in 2015: “It’s been a long, hard fight since that time, but our new product is working well and we are excited about it. With it, we are shifting our focus even more towards on-demand engineering.

“Our new product – EE Concierge, the Electrical Engineering Concierge Service – is an evolution of the real-time, on-demand, virtual assistant for PCB engineers that we experimented with back in 2015.

“Now it’s a completely separate product that can be used by any hardware engineer in the world, with any ECAD tool like Altium or Eagle [Autodesk]. It’s not just for Upverter users, hardware engineers today – the people responsible for every new device you buy – have their own team of engineering assistants.”

I asked Homuth to define on-demand engineering.

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Crowd sourcing Design: The Panel that won’t be at DAC 2017

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

 


The following transcript is from a panel
that’s not showcasing at the Design Automation Conference next week in Austin. It was submitted as an idea last Fall, but was declined by conference organizers.

Why was that? Is the idea of crowd sourcing chip design a tad too open source-ish for the EDA establishment, too community based and innovative? Who knows.

The panel discussion took place, nonetheless, several weeks ago and is available below. It’s a conversation between eFabless Co-founder & CTO Mohamed Kassem and TopCoder Co-founder Jack Hughes, now Director of Tongal and member of the eFabless Board.

Per the eFabless website, the company “applies collective and multidisciplinary community knowledge to all aspects of semiconductor product development.”

Per the TopCoder website, this company has a “community of over 1,000,000 design and technology experts [providing] on-demand capability, bandwidth, and velocity so you can do more.”

The dialog below reflects both Jack Hughes’ and Mohamed Kassem’s deep knowledge around the issues of building design communities, open-source technology, and crowd sourcing design.

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Wally Rhines: Grand Challenges in EDA

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

 


This is the second in a 4-part series on Grand Challenges in EDA
. Last week’s entry featured Adapt-IP Chair John Sanguinetti. This week’s conversation is with Mentor Graphics CEO Walden C. Rhines.

Rhines has led Mentor Graphics since 1996, following a distinguished career at TI heading up the ginormous semiconductor group there. His PhD is in material science, but his interests are far more diverse. Additionally, his name and his company have been in the news of late because Mentor was just acquired by Siemens, where he continues to serve in a leadership role. Rhines received the Phil Kaufman Award in 2015, the EDA industry’s highest honor.

Given Dr. Rhines’ storied career as a keynote speaker, it’s not surprising that he came to our May 26th phone call fully prepared to articulate what he sees as today’s Grand Challenges in EDA. Rhines says there are “at least three big ones.”

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John Sanguinetti: Grand Challenges in EDA, Chilling Challenges in Security

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

 


Master technologist John Sanguinetti
has made major contributions to the EDA industry in the first decades of his career, and is now doing the same for the IP industry. After finishing his PhD at University of Michigan, Sanguinetti worked at DEC, Amdahl, Elxsi, Ardent Computer, and NeXT, was President at Chronologic, Modellogic, and CynApps, and was CTO at Forte Design.

In 1990 while still at NeXT, Sanguinetti became convinced he could write a better simulator than Cadence’s VerilogXL, so working nights and weekends for several months he wrote VCS. The potential of the tool inspired Sanguinetti and Peter Eichenberger to found Chronologic. They launched the product in late 1992, and sold the company to Viewlogic in late 1994. Synopsys acquired Viewlogic in 1997, and VCS has continued on there as a foundational element of the company’s verification strategy.

Currently Sanguinetti is serving as Chairman at Adapt-IP, but given his long and distinguished history with EDA, he agreed to opine this week on Grand Challenges in EDA. In the following conversation, he offers two Grand Challenges in EDA and two in Security, the latter being an issue of rapidly growing concern worldwide.

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The Truth: CyberThieves, Long-term Care Insurance, IEEE, and You

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

 


In flipping through the current issue of IEEE Spectrum
, I was astounded to find an ad on the inside back cover encouraging IEEE members to buy the organization’s long-term care insurance.

That ad tells you two things: a) Some of the 400,000 IEEE members are thinking about long-term care, because they’re aging and don’t want to burden their children with caring for an elderly parent, and b) long-term care insurance is a respected product that any reasonable person would want to invest in.

Regarding these two conclusions: The idea that part of the IEEE is moving into their Golden Years is spot-on, but the idea that long-term care insurance is something worth buying is not so obvious.

If you’ve ever looked into buying one of these policies, you know they’re obscenely expensive. And they can’t be activated until: a) you’ve lived for 100 days in some kind of assisted living facility and can pass the incompetent-at-life-skills test, or b) more insidiously, you’re surviving by way of a life-assistance tube – feeding or oxygen – and you’re housed in some kind of skilled nursing facility for at least 100 days.

These are the two circumstances under which long-term care insurance will pay out. Long-term care insurance does not cover the costs of in-home care. Don’t be duped into thinking it does.

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Blink’r: IoT moving Customized Design to the Edge

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

 


Before you can design something for the IoT
, you need a platform upon which to construct your design to keep development costs down, and before you can build that platform, you need to understand what the IoT actually is. And to do that, it’s useful to start with entrepreneur Baoguo Wei, founder of Phoinix Technologies and the company’s Blink’r IoT-in-a-Box tool set.

When we spoke recently by phone, Wei said: “I’ve been in the industry long before it was called IoT. When I came out of school, my first job included a project where we needed to measure the contents of the fuel tanks in a fleet of trucks spread across different locations, something that required data collection. We built our own radios and a back-end for the data.

“At the time, the back-end was not called the Cloud, it was called a Server and we used an algorithm to solve the problem.”

He chuckled, noting it wasn’t the Cloud then, because that infrastructure was still being built out. Similarly, only when the infrastructure for the Internet of Things began to appear, did the thing get its name.

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H-1B Visa: de Geus’ tragedy looms large

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

 


The White House this week
issued an Executive Order launching a complete review of the H-1B visa program as it pertains to high-tech workers. Is this a relief for those involved in using these devices to bring in tech talent from overseas and want to get it right? Or does it harbor a deepening of what Synopsys Aart de Geus terms “a tragedy” – the ongoing difficulty of getting easy access to the global talent pool that Silicon Valley professes to need?

More fundamentally, why are there H-1B visas in the first place? Are there indeed too few American nationals with the training needed to push Silicon Valley’s tech agenda forward? And if those numbers are insufficient, why can’t the talent pool be augmented with off-shore workers laboring away in distant climes?

After all, distributed teams and remote computing have been a way-of-life for several decades here in the Digital Age. Remember all of the crowing at the dawn of the Era of the Distributed Team: Development would go on non-stop, 24×7. Wherever the sun is shining, designers are designing, was the received wisdom when it comes to global teams – and it continues to be.

So, why is it so important to bring people into the U.S. when they can work elsewhere, in their own locale – their efforts melded into the corporate whole via VPNs and/or crafty IT interventions that knit the project together seamlessly. All of that enhanced even further with the advent of The Cloud that Computes.

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