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 What Would Joe Do?

Posts Tagged ‘Synopsys’

ProPlus’ CTO: Intelligence in Design Personified

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

 

Talking to ProPlus Design Solutions requires a long view of history over at least the last 20 years in EDA. In 1993, BTA, an EDA company focused on device model extraction and SPICE simulation, was founded with U.C. Berkeley’s Dr. Chenming Hu as Chairman of the Board. In 1999, BTA merged with Ultima, and became Celestry in 2001.

Finally, in 2003, the combined companies were acquired by Cadence Design Systems. Then in 2007, a new company called ProPlus was spun out of Cadence to support the original BSIMProPlus device modeling platform with roots going back to BTA/Celestry.

Current ProPlus CTO Bruce McGaughy earned his PhD at Cal with Chenming Hu as his advisor, served at both BTA and Celestry, and worked at Cadence, before joining ProPlus 6 years ago. I had a chance to talk with Dr. McGaughy in person last month in Silicon Valley. Our conversation covered a range of topics.

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M&A: It’s Jasper to Cadence, at last …

Monday, April 21st, 2014

 

In the moments prior to Cadence’s quarterly earnings call this afternoon, the company released news of the acquisition of Jasper Design Automation for $170 million, less $24 million in cash, and a small tremor rippled out across the EDA Nation.

Paraphrasing Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan in the early minutes of his 5pm ET earnings call: We are very pleased to announce a definitive agreement to acquire Jasper Design Automation. This will help us to further meet our customers’ needs for more advanced verification solutions, particularly today as verification now represents 70% of the cost of SoC development. Together, Cadence and Jasper can move forward, offering the strong formal verification solutions leading customers need. In addition, Cadence is also very pleased to be bringing on board the strong team at Jasper, a team with excellent real-world experience.

All good stuff, yes? So why any tremors in our beloved little EDA Nation?

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Coverity’s Kuehlmann: Success means Crossing the Chasm

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

 

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

Monday, March 24th, 2014

 

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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CDNLive 2014: Delicious Sensory Overload

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

 

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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Imperas: Test it now or Recall it later

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

 

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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D&VCon: A labor of love for Krolikoski & Co.

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

 

If ever there was a year when you thought to attend DVCon, this should be it, according to a recent phone call with Cadence Fellow Stan Krolikoski, serving as General Chair for the second year in a row. That’s because DVCon 2014 will be serving up the D and the V in equal measure, and won’t be skewed towards the V in DVCon as it has been [perhaps] in the past.

Per Stan, “We’ve gotten feedback every year from attendees that they want more emphasis on design. They say they like verification, but they want more design, so last year I gave marching orders to the Technical Program Committee [headed by Paradigm Works’ Ambar Sarkar] that they should add more people on the review committee who represent design.

“It’s actually been a long time in coming. Although last year was the 25th anniversary of the conference, 10 years ago the name was changed to DVCon. Prior to that, it was HDLCon and the content reflected that name. When the name was changed to DVCon it was supposed to include both design and verification, but [functional verification emerged as the larger focus].”

That focus meant that those types of experts tended to dominate attendance, according to Stan, but that’s been fixed this year: “We will still have excellent functional verification sessions at DVCon – everything for the beginner through to the guru, it’s all there – but we will also have sessions on low-power design, on analog/mixed signal, and on system-level design, as well as IP integration. We’re clearly moving away from just verification in adding lots of design content to the program that’s of interest to our audience.”

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Character: Sports, Entertainment and EDA

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

 

Yesterday was awash in poignancy. If you’re online a lot, you learned around noon California time that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had died suddenly in NYC of an apparent overdose. The news really gave pause, particularly because it turns out he was so much younger than he looked, because the young people in my life really thought him a great actor and were stunned by his death, and because it gave evidence, yet again, that people of fame and legendary talent are also often so completely human and frail.

And, I was a big fan of Amy Winehouse. My friends and family knew that about me. When she died 3 years ago, I actually received condolence notes because they knew how I felt about her voice and her talent, and they were sad about it for me. Oddly, we somehow feel very personally connected to famous people. We feel we really know them, how strange. People wept for John Kennedy, for Abraham Lincoln, for Paul Walker, for Heath Ledger, for Marilyn Monroe, yet I’m pretty sure that most of those grieving never actually met the person they mourned.

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Costello & Carlson: Buckle your seat belt …

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

 

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away the EDA Empire began and quickly coalesced into several big players and a band of plucky startups constantly attempting to compete and stay viable.

Back in that halcyon era, Rick Carlson and Dave Millman decided to get those startups to pull as one, to try to keep the industry open and progressing, to protect the EDA industry as a place where new ideas could see the light of day and offerings from small companies could compete on a level playing field against those from the big players.

To do that, Rick and Dave came up with the idea for a consortium of Independent Design Automation Companies, IDAC, and put out the word to like-minded colleagues that this new group would benefit everybody. Creating IDAC proved more difficult than they had hoped, so letting pragmatism rule the day they approached Joe Costello for help, then CEO of Cadence, even though that meant working with one of the ‘big guys’ and hence, EDAC came to fruition.

To hear the rest of the story per Rick, recounted in a phone call in December, click here.

To hear the story recounted by Joe Costello, read below. I spoke with both Joe and Rick together on a conference call in mid-January.

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Revolution from within …

Joe began: “Rick told me he’s concerned that in his recent conversation with you about the history of EDAC, he may have sounded too harsh. I said that’s not possible, because the truth about the industry is quite harsh. Just thinking about it makes my blood boil.

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IDAC: What EDAC might have been

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

 

Before there was EDAC, there was IDAC. But before there was IDAC, there was just DA – Design Automation without Community or Consortium. The EDA industry consisted of a small number of large companies controlling the conversation, and a larger number of smaller companies who thought that if they linked hands they could do it better. It was Rick Carlson and Dave Millman who decided in 1986 to bring that group of small companies together to create IDAC, which stood for Independent Design Automation Companies.

According to Carlson, speaking on a recent phone call, “We wanted to get the small independent companies to work together in a cooperative way to deliver a solution, a flow, that was equal to or better than the big companies. And because even then, the leading-edge algorithms always came out of these small startups, we thought we had good solutions that the customers would appreciate.

“But there was a deeper, more fundamental issue that we hoped to solve by creating IDAC and that was how to grow the industry and foster innovation, whether in through a startup or an established player.”

Things didn’t work out exactly like Carlson and Millman had hoped for.

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