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.
April 14th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
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.
Read the rest of Remembering Steve Levitan: Scholar and Gentleman
April 7th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
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.”
Read the rest of Bob Smith: Confidence drives ESD Alliance
March 31st, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
As much as the energetic re-branding of the EDA Consortium is to be admired, the name of the new organization is causing distress: If you want to find out more about the newly launched ESD Alliance, your online search will be fraught with angst. Why?
Read the rest of ESD Alliance: If Edsel Ford had a twin sister
March 24th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
To speak with Herb Reiter about the rationale for multi-die packaging is a chance to follow a logical and energetic continuum from first principles to a final conclusion. Namely, that as the era of the ASIC subsides, the era of the multi-die package will arrive full force.
Reiter, President of eda 2 asic, will be reiterating this line of thinking, in conjunction with a panel of like-minded experts, at the upcoming EDPS conference in Monterey on April 21st. In anticipation of that session – “Multi-Die IC Design and Application” – we spoke by phone this week. The conversation was compelling.
Read the rest of Herb Reiter at EDPS: Multi-Die IC Design and Application
March 17th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
Mentor Graphics’ Tom Fitzpatrick gave a lunchtime talk at DVCon several weeks ago summarizing recent efforts to build a standard [set of standards?] around portable stimulus for verification. The room was packed with over 200 people and his talk was sufficiently complete, nobody asked any questions.
After his presentation, however, I did hear some comments. Namely that these types of standards are quite complex and difficult to develop. Hence, setting an actual delivery date of January 2017 for Portable Stimulus Standard Version 1 [PSS V1] is quite aggressive and optimistic.
I was not fully informed about Accellera’s Portable Stimulus Working Group [PSWG] prior to Fitzpatrick’s talk, so could not judge whether January 2017 is or is not overly optimistic as a delivery date for the standard. Since DVCon, I have studied the slides and attempted to better understand what this is all about: What is a Portable stimulus and what would a set of standards look like?
Read the rest of Accellera’s PSWG: Realists and Optimists, the lot of them
March 10th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
You would probably have learned more about Ajoy Bose by reading his biography than by attending Jim Hogan’s gentle exercise in collegiality on Tuesday night, March 1st, in Silicon Valley. The conversation between these two giants of EDA, hosted by EDAC as part of DVCon week, was consistently unstructured, whimsical and seemingly without outline.
The next day, I sat in a coffee shop and struggled to find a handle with which to write a coherent summary of the previous night’s random access memory album. But that handle would not reveal itself.
Then I happened to glance over to a nearby table where another caffeine addict was buried in a book: The Man Behind the Microchip. I asked the addict who exactly was the subject of the book and the answer came back: Robert Noyce.
So Robert Noyce is the man behind the microchip, I pondered. The only man behind the microchip? Like Steve Jobs invented the iPod/iPad/iPhone? Or Thomas Edison invented the electric light?
No wonder, I realized, it was hard to get a handle on the previous night’s Hogan/Bose interview. They didn’t do anything. Robert Noyce did it all. And without help. Hogan and Bose did nothing, and ergo had nothing to offer their audience.
These two were not part of a vast conspiracy of contributors, all adding their particular drips and drops of innovation into the trickle of technology, that rolled into a small creek of creativity, that ran into a moderate-sized stream of science-turned-engineering, which poured into a roaring river of real change, which crashed into a seething sea of twenty-first century digital life.
Of course, that’s nonsense. Robert Noyce did not do everything, and Hogan and Bose did not do nothing.
Read the rest of Ajoy Bose: The Man Behind the Microchip
February 24th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
Emulation is everything in verification today and therefore at the center of DVCon. Technology expert, Lauro Rizzatti, has prepared this brief tutorial for you, so you’ll be ready for the conference that starts on February 29th.
* The Past
Hardware emulation has been around for 3 decades. It started in the mid 80s with pioneers like Quickturn and Ikos, who used off-the-shelf FPGAs in the fabric of their emulators. The second decade saw the rise of several startups, some of them using custom silicon devices in the emulators.
Read the rest of Attending DVCon: Read this first …
February 17th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
Those who play in the world of big business are fully aware of the risks: Layoffs are part of the landscape. Yahoo is currently organizing a reduction of upwards of 1500 people as part of an attempt to put its financial house in order; the oil giant Schlumberger is letting ten thousand go, per the company’s January announcement; and Silicon Valley’s original anchor tenant, HP, is in the process of letting tens of thousands go as that organization attempts to right its own ship of state.
These pink slips notwithstanding, there is another type of layoff that is also part of the ebb and flow of big business in the modern era: The small layoff, the letting go of an individual or a small group within a larger department, not for performance issues but because the company has decided to go in a different direction. And it’s within this type of thing that folks in Marcom and PR often get caught up, yet nobody talks about it.
Because absolutely no one knows better than the folks in Marcom and PR that when they are let go, their future employment depends on their utter and complete discretion, their ability to keep a stiff upper lip and move on, their willingness to embrace the pink slip, pack up their desks, surrender their employee badges, and head for the exit with grace and style. Or, if they are employed by an external PR agency, to do the same without even the benefits of a severance package.
Read the rest of Marcom & PR: Discretion, not Thanks, defines the Equation
February 10th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
Sometimes you just gotta wonder what happens behind the closed doors of the executive suite. Last June, when Synopsys acquired Atrenta, Atrenta’s founder – a distinguished technologist, alum of IIT Kanpur, UT Austin, Bell Labs, Cadence and Interra, and profoundly well-seasoned EDA leader – closed the door on his leadership role at the company he founded 14 years before.
I will admit, I do not know if Dr. Ajoy Bose actually ever reported to duty at Synopsys last summer – the received wisdom would have us believe he needed to set foot there long enough to help his team transition into the Big Purple – but in truth, it is hard to imagine him ever playing second fiddle to Dr. Aart de Geus or Dr. Chi-Foon Chan, or anyone else for that matter. He is a man of that much dignity and gravitas.
Of course, if Bose did punch a time clock at Synopsys, it was for nary a nanosecond in geologic time. It’s been 9 months since the acquisition and now Bose is clearly free to speak in public about the past, present and future of the industry he has helped to create. That surely would not be happening if Bose was just a node in the org chart that has Chan and de Geus at the top of the pyramid.
So there’s one half of the good news included herein.
Read the rest of DVCon Week: Bose and Hogan to Showcase Gravitas
February 4th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
On a phone call last week with the DVCon 2016 General Chair, Synopsys’ Yatin Trivedi, and 2016 Technical Program Chair, eInfochips’ Ambar Sarkar, I was again reminded of two unalienable truths: DVCon is a labor of love for those who have been involved for so long, and without these people the conference simply would not exist.
DVCon is the granddaddy of all design and verification conferences. It’s been housed annually in Silicon Valley since before the beginning of time, this year from February 29 to March 3 at the DoubleTree Hotel. As inevitable a part of the yearly conference cycle as DVCon may be, however, always remember that nothing is forever.
Learning and networking opportunities like DVCon only exist because a group of over-achieving volunteers continue to infuse the event with their special brand of energy and credibility. The conference goes on and on, because of the selfless dedication of the folks who carve time out of their busy professional lives to lead it — to solicit, vet and assemble the technical program, and to solicit, vet and assemble the exhibition hall (a unique ‘science fair’ sort of a deal that opens every afternoon after the technical sessions have wrapped up for the day).
But these kinds of volunteers do not always step forward and even when they do contribute at this level, their efforts often go unnoticed. Hence, when you think of DVCon, remember to be grateful to the team that brings it to you. Nothing lasts forever, even if DVCon seems likes it could. End of sermon.
Read the rest of DVCon: A moment in time