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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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EDA loses an Advocate: Bob Gardner will be sorely missed

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

 


Every industry needs advocates
, and Bob Gardner served with distinction in that role for many years. When he passed away this week, the industry lost both an articulate spokesman, and someone who had a deep and nuanced understanding of how the unique group of companies involved in EDA and IP come together to provide the crucial underpinnings of a global semiconductor design chain.

Gardner’s most important industry-wide contributions, of course, came during his eight years as Executive Director of the EDA Consortium. He had, however, many years of leadership and involvement in a variety of companies prior to his EDAC assignment, including roles at Verific, Signetics/Philips, AMD, Exemplar Logic, Design Acceleration, Bridges2Silicon, and ITeX.

Given that background, Gardner was able to bring decades of corporate wisdom to his role at EDAC and used it wisely to help craft the mission and work of the Consortium. During his tenure, the organization expanded its membership, became even more pro-active in promoting the common agenda for member companies, and helped to expand the visibility of EDAC across North America and into Europe and beyond.

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Siemens snags Mentor: Cartel canceled, Gary Smith vindicated

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

 


Today is the day some EDA purists thought would never happen
: The disassembling of an industry status quo that’s been in place for over 20 years

As of today, Mentor Graphics has been sold and is fully owned by Siemens. Now Mentor’s arc of history will be decided by folks not residing in the green forests and hills of northern Oregon, and the Big Three cartel is no more. A cartel which has slowly consolidated the playing field over time until nary a startup can be seen.

The power vested in the Big Three EDA companies has grown steadily and inexorably over these years, as has their market dominance. Examination of recent numbers provided by the ESD Alliance Market Statistics Service indicates that today, in excess of 85-percent of the revenue earned in the EDA industry can be attributed to the combination of Synopsys, Cadence, and Mentor Graphics.

These three companies, their leadership, sales prowess, and increasing control of the conversation and technical direction in the industry has made for a powerful cartel. But again, that cartel is no more and the crystal ball predicting future dynamics within the EDA industry has gone dark.

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CAD Tools: No longer agnostic w.r.t. end-product systems?

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

 


You need no more evidence
than the just-published agenda for June’s Design Automation Conference in Austin to prove that the EDA industry is now a complex amalgamation of technologies, applications and markets. Not to mention people.

This year’s keynotes and skywalks cover a range of topics: From how the IoT will make smart buildings smarter, to why hardware/software co-design is being relabeled as digital twin[ning], why III-V compound semiconductors are the wave of the future, how wearable devices will soon be able to snoop around and find out if you’re having a bad day, and – did we mention the IoT?

New this year, even politics will get its 25 minutes of fame with a keynote outlining what’s up with ICs in China.

In other words, at DAC 2017 the topics are all over the map. You no longer just hear about the nuts and nuances of design; now you hear as much about what’s going on downstream in the system that runs on the IC as you hear about designing the IC itself.

There is a deeper meaning in all of this, of course.

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ESDA’s Big Four Panel: 20 Questions that won’t be asked

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

 


Something historic and poignant
is taking place on Thursday, April 6th, that should be of interest to absolutely everyone in the EDA and IP communities. The four most powerful men in these two industries will be on stage for an ESD Alliance panel discussion led by Semiconductor Engineering’s Ed Sperling.

The four panelists include Synopsys Chairman & CEO Aart de Geus, Cadence President & CEO Lip-Bu Tan, Mentor Graphics Chairman & CEO Wally Rhines, and ARM CEO Simon Segars.

The April 6th event will be historic because these Big Four unequivocally define EDA and IP – just as Stanford, Huntington, Hopkins, and Crocker defined Railroads in the West – and it’ll be poignant because you’ll never see them together again. Too many changes ahead.

Of course, the ESDA panel will also be whimsical: You’ll know no more about these CEOs and their companies at the end of the evening than you knew when you first arrived. That doesn’t mean the evening won’t be entertaining.

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Job Openings: Can EDA Predict the Future

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

 


This is a simple post with just two messages
. First, EDA is hiring. All over the globe. Mentor Graphics lists over 200 openings, Cadence has almost 300 openings, and Synopsys has a staggering 900+ openings worldwide.

Of course, EDACafe’s own Mark Gilbert could have told you this. It wasn’t necessary to scour the websites of the Big Three in EDA to learn about the many jobs currently available in the industry, most for software developers, not surprisingly.

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DVCon Panel: Problems in Paradise

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

 


DVCon generates a lot of respect
, and for good reason. Engineers have attended this conference for over 25 years to further refine their skills in the area of design and verification. Yet, there’s a problem in paradise.

In an industry like EDA that’s super dominated by just three players, there’s little if any room in the industry – or at a conference like DVCon – to showcase the ideas and innovations of the Small Guys. The Big Guys teach tutorials and present papers; the Small Guys get to hang posters in the hallways.

All of that was supposed to change tonight thanks to the sponsorship of the ESD Alliance and OneSpin Solutions, as well as Vista Ventures’ Jim Hogan.

Tonight, six of the Small Guys in verification appeared on a panel moderated by Hogan hoping to get their 60-minute shot at fame. A post-Happy-Hour hour in which to lay out their case for customers to come and sample the kind of innovation that everyone knows is the watchword of technology startups, particularly in EDA.

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