February 24, 2003
Virtual Snow Day
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on EDACafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Peggy Aycinena - Contributing Editor

by Peggy Aycinena - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by EDACafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Geek Fest in the Age of Aquarius

What's fair is fair. If the entire Eastern Seaboard gets to shut down on account of weather, why should those on the West Coast have to venture out to earn a living? Besides, this is the Age of Connectivity. So stay home, log on, tune in, and find out what's up in the world around you.

Let's start with Craig Barrett. He's CEO of Intel Corp. and he hosted the Intel Developer Forum Conference at the San Jose Convention Center. It doesn't matter that you weren't there because, wherever you are in the world, you can see him delivering his keynote address. It's archived. It's on-line. It's free for the viewing. And it's pretty cool.

But in the Age of Irony - the corollary to the Age of Connectivity - you can't just watch Barrett speak. You gotta critique what he's saying and how he's saying it.

Intel CTO Patrick Gelsinger starts out by welcoming the 4000 attendees to the “The Greatest Geek Fest on Earth” and then introduces Barrett as the “Convergence Cowboy.” (Now, that's really less about the technology that Intel's promoting and more about the CEO as Celebrity. Because on top of everything else, this is the Age of Celebrity - and CEOs, like it or not, are indeed Celebrities.) So Barrett gets underway and takes well over an hour to discuss convergence in computing and communication and along the way hints at a pretty interesting syllogism:

- Technology's good - great, even.

- The world is excited about technology.

- Excitement is tantamount to happiness.

- We're driving technology.

- Therefore, we're good because we're propelling the world to happiness.

Clearly, others might have a different take on Barrett's message, but this is a Snow Day - tantamount to a Free Day - and so my conclusions are just as valid as anybody else's. At least for today.

What else does Barrett say? Well for starters, he's got a pretty big bucket for what constitutes “technology.” Geophysics and railroads and Internet cafes are all “technology.” But, making shoes or butter or tilling the fields is also technology. In fact, technically speaking, any human endeavor is “technology” if it uses the human intellect to monitor, control, or alter the surroundings.

But when Barrett says “technology,” we all understand what he means. He means computing platforms that have “Intel Inside” and drive IT, manufacturing, distribution, or communication infrastructures. But that's okay. We'll let Barrett have a Snow Day, too. That's his conclusion and it's just as valid as anybody else's. At least for today. Besides, this is also the Age of Relativity - along with the Age of Connectivity, Irony, and Celebrity - and so everybody's opinion counts.

What else does Barrett say? Lots! He talks about the expanding IT markets and about the need to replace 160 million “old” PCs sporting Windows 95 and 98 because Microsoft will no longer support those operating systems after this year. (Nary a word here, however, regarding the ecological implications of adding yet another 160 million units to the growing pile of Planned Obsolescence that already litters the Globe.) He talks about the 1 billion people who will be using their 2 billion connected devices by 2005 or 2006, and about the legions of under-20-something-year-olds in the world who don't have the historical perspective to remember when the PC wasn't a part of life -
but happily have an “insatiable demand” for more digital music, video, and games.

He talks about the infamous “last mile” of connectivity between the Internet pipe and the private home and how, today, the costs for that last mile are more effectively addressed in Japan than in the U.S. He presents a fast-paced video clip full of CyberProfound house beat and excited voices from countries as diverse as Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, India, France, Vietnam, Brazil, Russia, Jordan, Chile, Australia and the U.S. all proclaiming their need and passion for “technology” and the improvements that pursuit of same will bring to their people, their culture, and their lives.

He chastises the American Press for being the “most down on technology” out of the Global Press, and for being out of sync with the rest of the world. He reviews revolutionary and evolutionary developments in technology over the last 50 years, discusses Moore's Law, and admires “smart engineers who will create the next revolutionary and evolutionary advances.” He extols the virtues of content creation and distribution for a plethora of digital media. And, of course, he speaks at length about the convergence between computing and communications being addressed by Intel and other such visionary organizations.

And there's more. Barrett brings a friend out on stage to demonstrate the magical merger of optical fiber technology and silicon computing in a CMOS sort of way, and a friend to demonstrate software-enabled noise filtering in microscopy for examining and manipulating nanometer-scaled devices, and a friend to demonstrate seamless integrations of technology across the “three screens” - the “couch potato's” big screen, the interactive PC screen, and the handheld small screen - empowering everyone from the “knowledge worker,” to the physician, to the amateur video editor, and entertainment entrepreneur. Then he brings out yet more friends to demonstrate the
benefits of compute-intensive visualization systems that address the needs of users from genome researchers to financial market analysts. And not surprisingly, through all of this, he manages to mention many of the latest silicon platforms coming out of the complex Intel R&D organization.

By the time Barrett wraps up, it's clear that this is way more than a keynote address. It's an attempt by Barrett and the entire Intel Marketing Team to exhaustively touch on every aspect of life that Intel is probing into - which is nothing short of computing “Anytime, Anywhere, with Any Device.” It doesn't get much more bold, inclusive, or time consuming than that. Even in the Age of Aquarius.

But why believe me? You, too, should take a Snow Day, click here, and find out for yourself. Your conclusions will be just as valid as mine or Barrett's. And that's a good thing.

Meanwhile, the technical gurus at Synopsys and Cadence and Magma are out there, as well, with their keynotes from last week's VirtualDacafe. They're also archived, on-line, and available on demand. If you're partial to EDA, their presentations are also well worth a visit and a Snow Day.

Cadence's Ted Vucurevich addresses “Nanometer Design Changes Everything”

Synopsys' Raul Camposano discusses “EDA and Manufacturing: The New Chapter in the Textbook”

Magma's Ron Roher reviews “The Evolution of Gate Modeling”

Their talks can all be accessed at

Meanwhile, back in the Age of Irony

One of the Intel Developer Forum speakers was apparently stuck on the East Coast due to the snow and a cancelled flight, and ended up being a no-show for a Tuesday afternoon panel. Given the circumstances, it's hard not to ask, “What's the problem here?” Why in the Age of Connectivity, Virtual Reality, and Streaming Media should a simple blizzard negate the oldest adage of them all - The Show Must Go On.

On the other side of the globe -- EDA in India

Thanks to STMicroelectronic's Gautam Awasthi - an Electronics Engineer working with ST (India) in its Strategic Marketing Division - for providing articulate answers to a variety of questions regarding EDA and the semiconductor industry in India.

Awashti starts: “India as a country is poised to become a major SoC and EDA player - both in terms of the development as well as in terms of the market.”

Although Bangalore may be the best known, there are many up-and-coming technology centers in India including Noida, Hyderabad, Madras, Gurgaon, and Mohali. The major EDA vendors and semiconductor companies have made substantial investments in all of these areas.

Meanwhile, the “brain-drain” which occurred in India in the early 1990's is now being experienced by the Americas and Europe. Experienced engineers are returning back from these continents to India. Although I have no specific data or figures with respect to the exact numbers of returning talent - with the increasing numbers of design houses cropping up in the sub-continent (even with the economic downturn), indications point towards a new breed of U.S./U.K.-returned entrepreneurs.

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-- Peggy Aycinena, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.


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