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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

MonsterTablet: bragging rights for Panasonic, Microsoft & Dassault

November 14th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

This week in Las Vegas, Dassault Systèmes  hosted one of their many global confabs where customers consult with each other about the joys of using Dassault’s product lines. At this particular conference, Panasonic’s newly launched ToughPad enjoyed special focus, featuring heavily in keynotes and on the exhibition hall floor.

The 20″ ToughPad is among the largest tablets in the history of humankind, weighing in at around 6 pounds, and comes in two versions. One’s targeted at sales folks who want to haul around a huge screen for maximizing presentation punch (and for watching movies while they’re waiting at the gate). That one sells for around $5K. The other version’s a full-on workstation, good for designing stuff, repairing helicopters (virtually), and spinning things around and around in Dassault’s 3D design software until you’re dizzy with delight. This more-powerful, badasser version will set you back around $7.5K or more, but surely it’s worth the price.

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Gary Smith: EDA’s Master Oracle

October 31st, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

[Editor’s Note: An abbreviated version of this article first appeared on-line on in July 2001, and again in May 2004 when Gary Smith was engaged to be married to Verisity’s Lori Kate Calise.]


Starting and ending with the Tao is pretty enigmatic stuff when, in the middle of the stream, you find a bass-toting, black-leather-clad blues musician fresh out of the Naval Academy living in a shack in the midst of Silicon Valley. That pretty much summarizes Gary Smith for those who know him. For those who don’t, to quote from an introduction to Gary I heard at a panel last year where he was acting as moderator: “If anyone in this room doesn’t know who Gary Smith is, they don’t belong in this room.”

For a number of years, Gary Smith has been the single most important prognosticator in EDA. The industry listens to Gary, at DAC and a thousand other venues over the course of the year. They bank on his annual numbers reporting on the health of the industry. They pin his EDA Landscape poster up on the wall to keep track of which companies are which in the here today/acquired tomorrow world of EDA. They take their business plans and nascent product ideas to him and hope for his blessings. They quote him. They court him. They keep him busy, and apparently he loves it – taking all of the adulation in stride with a smile and a nod, which is what you would expect from a guy who takes Eastern philosophies seriously and incorporates them into his mindset and lifestyle.

The rest of Gary’s story is as follows. However, if you believe as Gary does that less is more, you needn’t read on. Based on what you’ve read, you already know him.

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Oski Technology: Establishing the Decoding Formal Club

October 24th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

If you are someone who does formal verification and is looking for a chance to talk over the challenges with others who do similar work, Oski Technology has something that may be of interest to you. Starting this month in Silicon Valley, the company is kicking off its Oski Decoding Formal Club. The inaugural meeting took place at the Computer History Museum on October 10th, and was lead by company CEO Vigyan Singhal.

Over lunch, he presented a 45-minute overview titled, “Using Bounded Proofs in Formal Sign-off.” Singhal noted during his talk that it’s the reality today that formal is expensive and returns “low bang for the bucks.” He insisted, however, that if there were places to learn more about how to apply formal verification, and how to build a productive formal team, the technology would be more widely applied and its destiny more quickly fulfilled as an extremely effective technique for use end-to-end throughout the design process.

Following Singhal’s presentation, the 20+ people in attendance (representing 10 companies) were each given time in a relaxed, roundtable environment to share their experiences and/or frustrations with formal. The companies included Apple, Broadcom, Cisco, HiSilicon, Memoir Systems, Microsoft, Nvidia, Palo Alto Networks, Qualcomm, and a startup. In other words, companies both big and small were represented and the resulting conversation was very interesting. It was clear as the talking stick was handed around, that some practitioners were very confident and sure of themselves, while others were relieved to know they’re not the only ones who struggle with formal.

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Aart de Geus: Smartest guy in the room

October 16th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

Several years ago, after a phone briefing about a new product launch, I received a call back from the PR counsel who had organized the meeting. She asked me if I had all the info I needed regarding the product and the company. I said yes, and offered a minor apology for asking too many pointed questions of the marketing manager during the interview.

She said, “Oh, that’s okay. Talking to you is like talking to Aart de Geus. It’s clear you both think you’re the smartest guy in the room.”

That comment has come to mind multiple times since then, for two reasons. One, you never really know what impression you leave with people until it comes out at some capricious moment. And two, Aart de Geus isn’t the smartest guy in the room, just because he thinks so. He’s the smartest guy in the room, because he really is the smartest guy in the room.

That’s particularly applicable today with the EDAC event celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the EDA industry about to commence this evening in Silicon Valley. Per the Consortium, a plethora of industry luminaries will be in attendance. Per this writer, none will be more luminary than Dr. de Geus. If you’re reading this, you’re probably pretty well versed in both the history of EDA and the history of Aart de Geus. Nonetheless, here’s the latter in a nutshell.

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EDAC Gala: Channeling our inner angels

October 10th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

Given that history and innovation are being featured here in this space this week, it’s only appropriate to highlight the fact that EDAC is hosting a very interesting event related to history and innovation in Silicon Valley next week.

On Wednesday, October 16th, those who have made massive contributions to the EDA industry will be highlighted and celebrated at a black-tie optional dinner at the Computer History Museum. If you’re interested in rubbing elbows with the powerful and prolific, you should be going to this event. If you want a chance to bid at auction for lunch with today’s corporate leaders in EDA, you should be going to this event. If you think said corporate leaders make enough money to pay for your lunch, rather than vice versa, you should still be going to this event.

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3D technologies: Help for ‘The Lost Generation’

October 10th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

Bill Martin, E-System Design President & VP of Engineering, sent the following essay detailing 4 Generations in the History of Electronics, including the Last/Lost Generation …


“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
Isaac Newton, 5 February 16761


1st Generation (1940-1960s): Vacuum tubes and possibilities

The start of the electrical computer age produced first generation electrical computers that required large rooms to contain them. These computers were large, heavy, power-consuming devices that had poor reliability (mean time between failures, MTBF): nothing like today’s handheld consumer devices that are more powerful, fit in your pocket, easily connect wirelessly to networks and can last 4+ hours on a single charge.

A few smart engineers realized that larger systems could not be built unless higher levels of integration were possible, helping to improve MTBF, size, weight, power and cost: a recurring theme for each generation that followed.

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Draper University: On the street where you live

October 10th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

Was just trying to get downtown in time for happy hour at my favorite wine bar tonight
, when what should I stumble upon but the ribbon cutting for Draper University.

The new darling of downtown San Mateo, this one-off school of entrepreneurialism is housed in the iconic Ben Franklin Hotel, which has stood as art-deco sentinel over the historic center of San Mateo for nine decades. Now re-painted, spruced-up, and re-named Draper U, the folks founding this trendy school have closed the entire block of 3rd Avenue this evening in order to celebrate their launch.

No matter that the 3rd Ave Sports Bar, Kaffeehaus, or Masu Japanese Bistro – not to mention the original Amicia’s Pizza – might want to draw in their own Thursday evening foot traffic, Draper University is King of the Hill here this evening. A way-hip band blares away mid-block to pump up the crowd, enormous oversized beach balls roll up and down the suddenly-pedestrian-only street, and a 2-story climbing tower can be spotted above the noisy, shifting crowds.

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Annoying: Today’s top tedious tech

October 3rd, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

There are a lot of things about life in the 21st century that are annoying, things related to our environment being super-saturated with technology. Electronic stuff around the house that never goes dark so you have to cover them with an old sock to get some shut-eye; wireless devices that send out vibes that tingle in your hands and wrists when they power up; kids who respond to text messages but not voice, kids who respond to voice messages but not text; and the pile of old cellphones and PDAs holed up in a dark corner of that drawer in the kitchen.

For the sake of this blog post, however, a specific bucket of annoying has been chosen for special shout out. Listed in no particular order, all of them show up with sufficient frequency to make you wonder if we’re really making progress here.

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At the Verification Bar: Solutions from Here to Eternity

September 26th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

A Professor, a Sage, and a Guru walked into a bar. Brian the Bartender, greeted them: “What’ll it be, boys?”

The Professor said, “We need some help, Brian, settling an argument.”

“No problema,” Brian the Bartender said. “I’ve got an answer for everything.”

“Well,” the Professor said, “I think ESL’s not going to happen in our lifetime, but the Guru here says it’s just around the corner now that he and his have finally got all the pieces of the flow in place.”

Brian the Bartender laughed, “Yeah, the Guru’s been saying that since the dawn of mankind!”

“Exactly,” the Professor said.

Again Brian the Bartender laughed, “Guru, can you defend yourself? And don’t even think about plunking your wordy White Paper down on the bar. This is a public house, not a public library.”

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Higgs: What a boson!

September 19th, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

Mentor Graphics has thrilled once again. This past Monday, they hosted one of their periodic Silicon Valley dinners for customers, press and analysts where they include a physicist on the menu along with a gourmet meal and lots of fine reds and whites. The physicist de jour on September 16th was Cal Tech celeb Sean Carroll, author of the best selling book, The Particle at the End of the Universe.

An excellent speaker, gifted and glib, Carroll walked his audience of 75+ through stuff they once knew but had forgotten, or never knew at all – the history of the science of particle physics, the evolution of field theory, and the importance of Geneva-based CERN and its still-wet-behind-the-ears Large Hadron Collider [LHC], which last year on July 4th validated its $9 billion+ price tag by smashing things around a bit and creating the first observable Higgs boson.

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