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

Coverity’s Kuehlmann: Success means Crossing the Chasm

 
March 27th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

The last time I had a lengthy conversation with Dr. Andreas Kuehlmann, he was director of Cadence Research Labs, housed in an off-campus office building just across the street from U.C. Berkeley. I spent an hour touring the lab, located on several floors there, with Kuehlmann as my tour guide.

First launched in 1993, by 2007 the Cadence lab was enjoying incredible new facilities when I visited, heavily kitted out with shiny work stations, high-end desks, fancy seating, gleaming conference rooms, and the usual array of tech-toys one expected to be on-site to entertain the young fanciful ones whose creativity apparently relied on having their work stations and their play stations positioned in close proximity

At the time, Mike Fister was King at Cadence. His reign, although now thoroughly besmirched by history, included in the plus column the company’s ongoing funding and encouragement of their Berkeley-based BlueSky TechLab/PlayPen.

During my visit in December 2007, my tour guide explained in great detail how Fister had been there several days before and had again reassured Kuehlmann that he had at his disposal all of Cadence’s resources: Kuehlmann’s job was not to worry about funding, only to worry about the rate at which his feisty group of wunderkinds were turning out innovative ideas that could be embraced by the mainline Cadence organization and brought to market.

Wow, what a gig, I probably said at the time, and Kuehlmann probably agreed: Cool digs just a few quick steps away from Cal’s engineering brain-trust, cool young folks soldiering away all around him, and a way cool corner office for the lab’s director that looked straight out to the Golden Gate Bridge. What wasn’t to like about that set-up?

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Sage-DA: Automating rule checking

 
March 26th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

If ever there was a need for additional help in design, now is the time. As the industry marches down, node after node, the problems ramp up, node after node.

After my conversation with Mentor’s Joe Sawicki several weeks ago about all of the pros/cons of moving to the next node, it was good then to speak with Sage-DA CEO Coby Zelnik about how his company’s tools are designed to help solve the single most ferocious problem that arises once designers in the trenches are ordered to make that move – the explosion in number and complexity of design rules.

Given that you all know how design rules work, can you quote chapter and verse about how the numbers of rule operations increase in the DRC Manual with each progressive node? Zelnik included a slide in his presentation last week that laid out the nightmare. At 65 nanometers, it’s 3000 rules; at 40 nanometers, it’s 4000 rules; At 28, it’s 8000. But at 20 and 16, the number stands at a staggering 16,000. The sheer magnitude of those numbers is what made the conversation last week with Zelnik so interesting.

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Synopsys’ Newton Project: Isaac, Richard, and the Power of 10x

 
March 24th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

March 24th, 6:01 AM – Later this morning at Silicon Valley SNUG, the CEO of Synopsys will be presenting a keynote that will most likely dwell on the newest major tool release from his company: IC Compiler II.

Synopsys notified the press several weeks ago that the announcement would be made this morning, but we would only be blessed with a pre-briefing if we promised to honor the embargo. Undoubtedly most agreed to these most conventional of terms. However, either ESNUG was never asked, or simply learned details of the launch through more creative channels; a preliminary description and critique of ICC II were published there last Thursday for all to see.

When I asked Synopsys last Friday morning if the ESNUG post made their embargo invalid, it was clear I had touched a nerve in their organization. They were absolutely adamant that the embargo was still valid, and if I refused to promise to honor it, not only would I not receive my pre-briefing later that day, I would never receive another pre-briefing from Synopsys going forward. Ever.

Okay then, I’ve honored the embargo. I’ve also used the information published on ESNUG last Thursday afternoon to inform my interview with Synopsys last Friday afternoon. Speaking for Synopsys on my March 21st conference call with the company was Sanjay Bali, Director of Product Marketing. Numerous PR people were also on the call. Here’s an abbreviated report on how the interview went.

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M&A: Mentor acquires BDA

 
March 21st, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

It’s Friday afternoon and spring is busting out all over, so why would anyone want to sit on a conference call and talk about EDA? Well, if you were Ravi Subramanian, President and CEO of Berkeley Design Automation, you would. The company he leads has just been sold to Mentor Graphics and today’s his day to celebrate the feat with the press.

I spoke with Ravi for 20 minutes this afternoon and remembered straightaway why he is the real thing. Well spoken, fully informed, and completely disciplined in his presentation, still his extreme delight with the acquisition was in full view as he patiently fielded my questions.

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Agnisys: Automating spec checking

 
March 18th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

Agnisys exhibited at DVCon several weeks ago in Silicon Valley, but within the time constraints of the show I didn’t have a chance to talk with them. Fortunately, that was remedied at 9 am this morning – 9:30 pm in Noida – during a phone call with company CEO Anupam Bakshi, who was visiting his team in India at the time of our conversation.

Prior to his involvement with Agnisys, Bakshi served at Avid Technology, PictureTel, Blackstone Consulting Group, Cadence, and Gateway Design Automation.

******************

WWJD – Let’s start with the elevator pitch. In 25 words or less, when did the company start and what do you do?

Bakshi – We started 6 or 7 years ago and are Massachusetts-based, although a lot of our development is done in Noida. Our products, called IDesignSpec, focus on the area that the big EDA companies don’t, providing an executable specification tool for chip design.

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Node2Node: Mentor’s Joe Sawicki

 
March 13th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

The following conversation with Joe Sawicki, VP/GM of Mentor Graphics’ Design-to-Silicon Division, looks at the complexities of deciding if and when a company should move down to the next process node. The interview was inspired by an upcoming panel at DAC, Designing on advanced process nodes: How many respins should you plan for?

Sawicki is an acknowledged expert in design and manufacturing, and “responsible for Mentor’s design-to-silicon products, including the Calibre physical verification and DFM platform, and the Tessent design-for-test product line.” I spoke to him by phone this week while he was traveling in Japan on business.

Read the rest of Node2Node: Mentor’s Joe Sawicki

CDNLive 2014: Delicious Sensory Overload

 
March 12th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

In the spirit of full disclosure, Cadence paid for lunch yesterday for the Press Corps attending CDNLive 2014. We had a scrumptious gourmet meal at Tosca in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency before returning to the Santa Clara Convention Center next door to have an hour-long “one-on-one” with Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan. In truth, it was actually an hour-long “twenty-on-one” with CEO Tan, because all of the usual suspects EDA Press Corps was in the room throwing softball lobbing questions at Tan.

Over the course of the hour, we learned that CEO Tan has a host of different investment partners – sorry, didn’t write down the names – involved in his various VC-funded ventures that span everything from GoPro [the trendy wearable camera enterprise out of Half Moon Bay] to a fabless startup that he said can tape-out a design at 16 nanometers for a scant $15 million, rather than the usual $150 million being lamented today in the global press. [In fact, Tan mentioned so many ventures he’s involved with, it begs the question: How does he have time to run Cadence?]

We learned that CEO Tan is very excited about all of the technologies involved in the semiconductor design/supply chain, that he believes it’s a great time to be a player in the industry, and that Cadence is innovating rapidly on multiple fronts simultaneously. And if/whenever Tan senses that they’re slowing down in any particular area, he pushes Cadence Engineering to move forward even faster.

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DVCon 2014: Design & Verification on Steroids

 
March 6th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

Oh my gosh: If you arrived at DVCon 2014 at 10:45 am on Tuesday this week, you’d have wondered if you’d wandered into the wrong conference. What happened to sedate, dignified DVCon? Standing at the registration desk on the first floor of the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose, the volume of noise and conviviality sweeping down the staircase from the upstairs mezzanine was unprecedented. What was going on up there? The DVCon morning poster session, awash in company reps and their ideas, and engineers anxious to engage with both.

When I got to the top of the staircase, I took a moment before plunging into the crowd, amazed at the vitality and the numbers of people hobnobbing among the posters. It wasn’t surprising to learn later in the day from DVCon General Chair Stan Krolikoski that over a thousand people – attendees and exhibitors combined – were at this year’s conference. Clearly, DVCon is enjoying an extraordinary renaissance, so much so that DVCon Europe will be debuting this October in Munich, with DVCon India, DVCon China, and DVCon Japan now in the planning stages. Like I said, omg.

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Incisive vManager: CDN takes on biggest baddest SoCs

 
February 26th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

How appropriate, the week prior to DVCon, for Cadence to announce a major new verification enhancement – Incisive vManager. Per a phone call last week with Cadence MDV [metric-driven verification] Product Management Director John Brennan, the company has spent the last 4 years working on this new “verification planning and management solution.”

Brennan said, “Incisive vManager has been in customer beta for the past 2 years, so this is actually our third release. Previously we’ve been quiet [about the product], but now we’re ready to say, ‘Come one, come all, and look at what we’ve done!’

“We’ve completely re-engineered and re-invented ourselves regarding verification planning and management – an important area I’ve been working on for over 10 years. What we’ve done with Incisive vManager is to redo our existing solution, both for reasons of scalability and for better addressing the needs of our customers, specifically the increased size and complexity of today’s verification [task] with a new client-based solution for multiple users.

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Imperas: Test it now or Recall it later

 
February 20th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

These are good days for virtual prototyping vendor, UK-based Imperas. The company will be making appearances this coming week at Embedded World in Nuremberg, at DVCon in San Jose the following week, and at CDNLive in Santa Clara the week after that, as well as several events in the UK in this same time frame. Imperas has a lot to talk about, including an announcement involving MIPS, a division of Imagination Technologies.

Per CEO Simon Davidmann in a recent phone call: “We’re small, self-funded and growing, with revenues last year up 65 percent. [Even better], the type of customers we’re seeing are tier-one semiconductor and embedded systems companies. We want to help people build better software. No one builds a chip without simulation, and we believe software development should be done like that as well.”

I asked about the competition. Simon answered, “It’s true, other people have models in the same space as ours – companies like Synopsys, Cadence and ARM – but we tend to cooperate with them. Our real competition is legacy breadboards, and kick-it-and-see techniques, rather than proper methodologies.

“For most complex SoCs, many people try to develop software with simulation at the RTL level, or with a hardware-accelerator box, but those approaches don’t get the throughput of software and performance they need. And with a prototype, they don’t get the controllability and observability. That’s why most of our competition is the legacy mindset in the customers.”

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