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Posts Tagged ‘U.C. Berkeley’

Wally Rhines: just the 7th Inning Stretch

Thursday, November 12th, 2015


Joyful relief probably best describes this evening’s event at the Fourth Street Summit Center in San Jose where the glitterati of EDA gathered to honor Mentor CEO Wally Rhines with a long-overdue CEDA/EDAC-sponsored Kaufman Award. Joyful relief and a sense of delicious mischief.

One should have known something was up when the trio in the corner – during cocktails on the 7th floor overlooking scenic downtown San Jose – launched into a tango so compelling one was forced to look over to the source of the music. Surprisingly and not surprisingly, it included Bob Gardner on bass. Tango and all, the music sashayed its way through the lively mesh of conversation that defined the crowded room in that pre-dinner hour.

When enough yummy hors d’oeuvres had been consumed, and just the right amount of Jazz Cellars wine – the winemaker himself now serving as the Executive Director of EDAC – the gong sounded, doors opened at one end of the room, and huge clumps of happy revelers jostled into the adjoining hall to seek out their assigned tables and grab their chairs, all anticipating good food and great fun.

With at least 200 people in attendance, CEDA and EDAC did not disappoint. Of course, it’s hard to avoid a home run when the irrepressible Wally Rhines is at the center of the play, but this evening CEDA/EDAC delivered up something more akin to a grand slam.


Moore’s Law @ 50: Will it never end?

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015


If there’s something missing in your personal or professional knowledge of Moore’s Law, you should have spent 5 hours at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View on April 17, 2015, although even then you might not have learned anything new. For people in technology, seriously, what more is there to know?

The ‘law’, penned by Gordon Moore and published in an Electronics article on April 19, 1965, was based on his many years’ experience in the nascent-to-ferocious semiconductor industry, and has since been interpreted, re-interpreted, mis-interpreted, and zealously lionized – both the law and the man – over the last 50 years. Which brings us back to April 17th and the 3-part program at the CHM.


ShakeAlert vs. QuakeFinder: Predicting the Big One

Monday, August 25th, 2014


Thirty two hours ago, the earth let loose here in Northern California delivering up a 6.0 earthquake 5 miles southwest of Napa in the heart of the wine country. It was the biggest earthquake we’ve experienced in the region since the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, which was a 6.9 on the Richter scale.

The thing about earthquakes is that they come on you suddenly, which is scarier than hell. Nonetheless, at a Sunday afternoon party yesterday in Silicon Valley, where the earthquake was felt even though the epicenter was 80 miles away, a Bay Area native said, “We may not know an earthquake’s coming, but I’d still rather live here than in places where they’ve got tornadoes. Now those are really scary!”

Ironically, on local radio this morning a geologist based in the Midwest was being interviewed about yesterday’s South Napa quake and concluded by saying, “You know, we may have tornadoes in our area, and they are pretty darn scary, but I’d far rather live here than where you guys are. At least we have warning when a tornado’s bearing down on us!”

But is that implication true? Is there no such thing as a warning prior to an earthquake? Well, for those of us who live in Earthquake Country, we are beginning to think [hope] differently.


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.


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?


Antun Domic: in hindsight, Mead-Conway Revolution at DATE

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013


Not all of the 1600+ people who attended DATE 2013 earlier this year in Grenoble were able to fit into the room where the panel celebrating 30+ years of the Mead-Conway VLSI Revolution took place. Those who could, however, were treated to a lively 90 minutes of conversation on what that revolution meant to the world of electronics and chip design.

Organized by Synopsys’ Marco Casale-Rossi and moderated by U.C. Berkeley’s Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, panelists included Berkeley’s Jan Rabaey, IMEC’s Hugo de Man, CMP’s Bernard Courtois, Columbia University’s Luca Carloni, and  Synopsys’ Antun Domic.

Although I was among those disappointed to have missed the event, I was able to speak after the fact with Antun Domic. He described the ambiance of the SRO session in Grenoble and enumerated several of the points laid out by the panelists, starting with their praise of Lynn Conway and Carver Mead’s ground breaking text book, published in 1980, Introduction to VLSI Systems.


Vertigo: funFITs or fudFITs into finFETS?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013


To say this is the year of the finFET is somewhat of an understatement, because everywhere you go somebody’s talking about going up instead of out – at ISSCC, at DesignCon, at DVCon, at ISQED, at SNUG, at EDPS, at DAC.

Among the talks so far, one of the best was given by the father of the finFET himself, U.C. Berkeley’s Chenming Hu. If you were at ISQED in Santa Clara on March 5th, you heard Prof. Hu describe how increasing leakage current in planar devices motivated radical new thinking in the late 1990s: Instead of a classic source, drain, gate structure, take a thin film of high-quality silicon material, place gate-dielectric above and below it such that the silicon is never very far from the gate, and then turn the thing 90 degrees so that the source is out the back, the drain’s in front, and the gate material is vertical.


Great Circle: from ISQED to DATE

Thursday, March 7th, 2013


If you were lucky enough to be at the ISQED Poster Session in Silicon Valley on Tuesday afternoon, March 5th, you had a chance to speak with various university students presenting novel work, various industry researchers presenting new ideas, and Chi-Foon Chan, Co-CEO of Synopsys, whose long involvement with ISQED, and deep and abiding interest in the underlying technology, fueled lively conversations as he too visited posters being presented by academia and industry alike.

As well, you would have had a chance to speak with Prof. Daniela De Venuto from the Politecnico di Bari. She told me about her research into implanted devices which monitor rate of chemical absorption in the digestive tract, and ways in which the resulting data could impact our understanding of the biochemistry of drug delivery mechanisms.

She also told me about various fascinating sessions at the upcoming DATE 2013 conference in Grenoble, starting on March 18th. These sessions are of particular merit for anyone interested in the interface between biological systems, electronic systems, environmental systems, and all manner of collaborative research embracing them all.

On March 21st, Prof. De Venuto is chairing a session on Smart Health along with U.C. Berkeley Prof. Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli. The session is part of a Special Day on Electronic Technologies for Smart Cities.


Chenming Hu: Looking at life from both sides now

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013


Last night, Judy Collins gave a holiday concert at Davies Hall in San Francisco to a sold-out crowd of acolytes. Only an artist of Collins’ fame would be allowed to ofttimes warble off-key, forget the occasional lyric, and natter on in and around the music, yet still receive a standing ovation. After all, at 73 she is still full of performing fire, still full of attitude and life. Her appearance at Davies was a celebration of that life, lived to the fullest and in many different spheres.

Last week, U.C. Berkeley’s EECS Department threw a birthday party/symposium for Chenming Hu in Sutardja Dai Hall for an SRO crowd of past students, present students and acolytes, friends and family. Only an educator and technologist of Hu’s stature – former CTO of TSMC, ‘father’ of the FinFET, ‘godfather’ of BSIM and an international expert on CMOS device models – would be honored thusly in his 65th year by the University, and allowed to hand pick the list of speakers who filled the day-long event.

Not the least among those chosen was Ramune Nagisetty, a former MSEE student of Hu’s, who now leads a team at Intel/Hillsboro. Nagisetty recently added self-taught guitarist and vocalist/lyricist to her CV, and no matter that she ofttimes warbled off-key during her lunchtime and mid-afternoon performances during the symposium, and nattered on in and around her music, she still received a jumped-to-their-feet ovation from Hu et al.

That’s because Nagisetty was just one part of the evidence offered on December 13th – talks, demonstrations, and performances – to prove that Chenming Hu’s life to date has been lived to the fullest and in many different spheres: His family was in attendance to celebrate with the crowd, Hu’s paintings, and those of his wife and sons, were on display in the lobby outside Banatao Auditorium, Nagisetty’s music was presented, and a remarkable group of technologists as diverse as …


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