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Executive Privilege: Presidential Libraries at DAC, LBJ to AdG

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

 


Presidents and CEOs share a common difficulty: the past
. A past that’s sometimes of their own making. They come into office full of enthusiasm and an agenda for improvement and innovation, only to find that the past serves increasingly as an impediment for moving forward.

Of course, the difference between Presidents and CEOs is that the former get libraries built in their name to commemorate their contributions, whether or not they’re able to conquer a past legacy left to them by predecessors.

CEOs, on the other hand, don’t get libraries when their tenures end. They either get tons of criticism, or occasionally tons of praise – but no library. They do, however, often get millions of dollars in compensation and stock during their administrations, and usually a pretty golden handshake when they’re done. Something that goes a long way to easing the pain of criticisms they may endure during and after their years in power.

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Chuck’s Posse: Keeping DAC Weird, Nerdy, Alive

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

 


A big 10-gallon hats-off to Charles Alpert & Team
for injecting fresh creativity and energy into the 53rd annual Design Automation Conference. Those who knew little about Alpert, and I’m among those few, were overwhelmed by the DAC General Chair and Host of the Opening Session who took the stage Monday morning in Austin.

Straightaway, Charles shed his corporate persona in favor of his Texas roots, welcomed us all to his home town, asked that we call him Chuck, offered photos and first names only of the entire DAC Executive Committee, showed us a map of a new and innovate layout for the DAC Exhibit Hall – including a central boulevard that Baron Haussmann himself would have celebrated – and then asked us to help him do two things:

Keep Austin Weird, apparently a principle plank in the City’s Charter, and ergo to Keep DAC Weird, as well as Nerdy, Fun and Alive. And no sooner did Chuck extend this request, than it was …

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Semifore: Celebrating 10 years with powerful CoStar Platform

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

 


Ten years ago, Rich Weber and Jamsheed Agahi
surveyed an industry they knew well – they each had 10+ years’ involvement in the technology – and found no one was providing hardware/software interface solutions. So in February 2006, they founded a company to “provide good solutions to the industry” and got busy coding. They had their software up and running by DAC, held that year in San Francisco, were featured in the July 2006 issue of EETimes, and were working with their first customers by the end of the year.

Those early successes were an indication of the credibility of Semifore Inc. and a reflection of the singular vision of founders who knew each other well; they had worked with together at various companies prior to 2006, Data General, Silicon Graphics, StratumOne and Cisco Systems. Starting Semifore together was the logical next step in their collaborations. Now ten years on, both founders are still with the company

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MRP 2016: The Remarkable Soha Hassoun

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

 


The spirit of Marie R. Pistilli will be writ large at the Design Automation Conference
in Austin in June, because the woman who is receiving this year’s MRP Women in Engineering Achievement Award embodies everything that Marie admired in a technologist:

Intelligence. Courage. Articulate leadership. Powerful work ethic. Technical contribution. A track record of mentoring women in a field that has been incredibly resistant to people who are different.

Yep, Dr. Soha Hassoun, Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science at Tufts University, has all the strengths of character that Marie admired, but there’s more: Prof. Hassoun is also well-spoken, funny, charming, and beautiful.

Just icing on the cake and not part of the reason Prof. Hassoun deserves the award, but all characteristics that Marie would have admired as well, and did admire – particularly as Hassoun is a permanent member of the DAC Family: She was General Chair of DAC in 2013, the conference being one of Marie’s deepest passions.

Indeed the greatest honor that could be brought to the memory of the remarkable Marie Pistilli is to select the equally remarkable Soha Hassoun as standard-bearer for outstanding achievement in EDA – woman or man – at the first DAC after Marie’s tragic passing last November.

Kudos to the committee for selecting Dr. Hassoun. Well done!

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Silexica: Holy Grail for Multi-core

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

 


Aachen-based Silexica is making waves in the world of multi-core and embedded systems
, as evidenced by their recent win in the German Silicon Valley Accelerator program. Company leadership was motivated to spend Q1_2016 in Silicon Valley, networking and meeting with thought leaders in the Bay Area’s tech community.

While he was in California, I had a chance to speak by phone Silexica CEO Max Odendahl. As many know, the problem of parsing code to take advantage of multi-core systems is a massively tough one to solve, one of the Grand Challenges in computing. My conversation with Odendahl was compelling, because it would appear his company has the solution.

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Angst at EDPS: Private Lives (not) in the Technical Age

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.

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Patrick Groeneveld: Fact checking the EV hype

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.

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Rutenbar’s Coursera: Grand & Crazy on a Planetary Scale

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.]

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Remembering Steve Levitan: Scholar and Gentleman

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.

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Bob Smith: Confidence drives ESD Alliance

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.”

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