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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.

Fall Schedule: A Host of Must-attends

 
August 17th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


School started for many kids this week
, which means family vacation time is over and you’ll need something else to fill your days. Attending conferences is always a good idea, and although the viability of conferences has been thoroughly questioned in the past, that concern has proven unwarranted.

No matter that the whole intent of your industry is to port more and more facets of our lives into the digital realm, learning and networking are still best done on human terms, starting and ending with a handshake. It turns out people like to talk to each other face-to-face, and hear from their colleagues in live settings whenever possible. Listed below are numerous chances to do just that.

Read the rest of Fall Schedule: A Host of Must-attends

Diversity: Really, who cares

 
August 9th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Recently, two items have been in the news.
One was the Pride Parade in San Francisco, which featured floats from Google, Intel, Apple, and Amazon, accompanied by at least a thousand employees of each respective company marching west on Market Street to Civic Center Plaza.

The second item was the now widely-read manifesto from a former Google employee declaring that woman are biologically unfit to contribute to technology. The manifesto and its fallout triggered a billion words of reaction, not the least being finger-pointing at the companies who participated in the Pride Parade, along with suggestions that these companies have been corrupted by political correctness and need to be replaced.

So there you have it: Two diametrically opposed views of the world. What is the tech sector to do with itself?

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EDPS 2017: After changes, Hidden Gem no longer

 
August 3rd, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


Of all of the EDA-related conferences that have taken place over the years
, one of the very best has probably been one of the least well-known.

EDPS – the Electronic Design Process Symposium – has been held for the last 24 years in the spring in Monterey. The beloved destination of the late, great Gary Smith, EDPS has been host to some of the most informed conversations, esteemed speakers, and highest caliber content in EDA. Ever.

And now – proving that it actually is possible to improve Best in Class – the organizers of EDPS have made two radical changes, changes that will have far-reaching impact for the conference and its excellent content.

For the first time this year, EDPS is going to be in Milpitas, not 2 hours south in Monterey, and the conference is going to be happening in September, not April.

This is great news. Now people who live and work in Silicon Valley can more easily access the 2-day program and can more readily partake of the content. And those flying in from out-of-town can get to the conference venue more quickly without a long, strenuous drive to the coast.

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Functional Safety: ISO, IEC, my Dishwasher, your Car

 
July 26th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


In a great moment of situational irony
, I was at my laptop intensely researching details of ISO 26262 in preparation for writing a blog about a recent conversation with OneSpin’s Dave Kelf when there was a shout from the kitchen: “The dishwasher’s smoking!”

I jumped up and ran to the kitchen. “It’s just steam,” I mocked, and opened the dishwasher door to prove my point. Lots of steam.

When I re-closed the door, however, the dishwasher did not start back up. The buttons atop the door wouldn’t take any input commands. Reaching under the sink, I unplugged the dishwasher and plugged it back in. Rebooted, the dishwasher now accepted the Start command, and I returned to my study to work further on ISO 26262.

“It’s still smoking!” someone yelled from the kitchen.

Again I jumped up and ran to the kitchen, jerked opened the dishwasher door and yep, it was indeed burning, internally.

Rancid smoke was coming up out of the vent holes at the top of the door, just adjacent to the cycle-select buttons. Reaching under the sink one more time, I quickly unplugged the dishwasher and then went to get a screwdriver.

Read the rest of Functional Safety: ISO, IEC, my Dishwasher, your Car

Simon Davidmann: A re-energized Imperas Tutorial at DAC

 
July 19th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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

 
July 13th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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.

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

Millennials v. Robots: The Race to destroy EDA

 
July 12th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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

 
June 22nd, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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.

Read the rest of Upverter’s Zak Homuth: On-demand Engineering to Assist Design

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

 
June 14th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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

 
June 8th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena


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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