True Circuits' Stephen Maneatis

Verisity Ltd. announced that Silicon Image has joined Verisity's Pure IP program. The companies say that the program enables Silicon Image to provide its customers with automated processes, technologies and methodologies for integrating Silicon Image's IP cores based on the Serial ATA (SATA), High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and Digital Visual Interface (DVI) industry standards. As a member of the program, Silicon Image verifies its cores using Verisity's Verification Process Automation (VPA) “solutions.” Silicon Image then packages each core's verification environment into an executable form - a “verification toolkit” - and delivers those toolkits along with the IP to their customers.

Also from Verisity - The company announced that Douglas Fairbairn, who joined Verisity's board in September 2003, has been appointed Chairman of the Board. Per the Press Release: “Fairbairn's previous positions include: Founder of VLSI Technology and General Manager of its ASIC Division, Founder and CEO of Redwood Design Automation, General Manager of the Alta Division at Cadence, President of the VSI Alliance SoC industry consortium, and President and CEO of Simutech Corp. Fairbairn was also Founder and Publisher of VLSI Design Magazine. Early in his career, he was a systems engineer at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. He has BSEE and MSEE degrees from Stanford University.”

Acquisition - Far more profound, however, is the news on December 11th that Verisity Ltd. and Axis Systems, Inc. have announced a definitive agreement for Verisity to acquire Axis. Axis is a privately held company. The companies say that “the acquisition will enable Verisity to create a comprehensive and highly differentiated VPA (Verification Process Automation) platform to exploit multiple discontinuities in the rapidly changing functional verification market. According to Gartner Dataquest, this market is expected to grow beyond $1 billion in the next few years.”

Moshe Gavrielov, CEO at Verisity, is quoted in the Press Release: “This significant acquisition will expand our breadth of offerings and greatly expand our market. Axis brings unique world-class technology, and together we will create the only company that is capable of providing a total VPA platform that will take projects from specification to verification closure. Customers need solutions that deliver process productivity, predictability and quality of results. This requires significantly more than just engines and languages. The VPA Platform, combining Verisity and Axis' technology, is the compelling answer to these requirements."

Mike Tsai, President and CEO at Axis Systems, is also quoted: “We are excited to join forces with Verisity for their technology and clear leadership in verification. This is clearly a market discontinuity we are addressing, driven by hardware-software SoC designs that require a new level of intelligence via process automation, and a new level of easily accessible and scalable verification performance. The combination of Verisity and Axis' technology will create the only company capable of meeting the growing verification challenges of nanometer designs.”

Mike Tsai will become executive vice president and general manager of the platform division reporting directly to Moshe Gavrielov. Axis Systems' audited revenue for the fiscal year that ended July 31, 2003 exceeded $20 million and the company currently employs about 90 people worldwide. Verisity will acquire Axis for approximately $80 million in cash and stock, with the stock portion representing less than 20 percent of Verisity's outstanding shares. The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2004.

Bits & Sound Bytes

1 - The Single Electron Transistor

Texas Instruments Inc. and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne are describing a potential way to use single electron transistors (SETs) to perform logic functions and reduce the size and power consumption of future semiconductor devices. A paper presented at IEDM (Washington, D.C.) shows that a combination of SETs and standard CMOS transistors can provide enough gain and current drive to perform logic functions at a much smaller scale than will eventually be possible with CMOS alone.

Per the Press Release: “SETs can potentially take the industry all the way to the theoretical limit of electrons for computing applications by allowing the use of a single electron to represent a logic state. There is general agreement in the semiconductor industry that standard silicon CMOS should support scaling for the next ten to fifteen years using traditional Field Effect Transistors (FETs) that use large numbers of electrons in operation. Advancement beyond that will require vastly different approaches in materials and architecture to cost effectively manage the signal integrity and heat problems created by so many tightly packed transistors. A range of alternative state devices have shown promise, but the light, fast and strongly interacting 'charged electron' provided the foundation of modern computing. The next challenge for researchers is to manufacture reliably many SETs in a CMOS compatible process on silicon. The first application for SETs could be for memory and special applications in metrology, such as primary thermometers and super sensitive electrometers.”

Christoph Wasshuber, a TI scientist and co-author of the IEDM paper, is also quoted in the Press Release: “Looking out ten years and beyond, TI sees that the CMOS roadmap will need help to continue to deliver the predictable returns the industry has counted on for decades from Moore's Law. It is starting to look viable for CMOS to continue to play a major role by providing a traditional system interface to millions of radically smaller, lower power, single electron transistors.”

2 - Observations on SystemVerilog

Cliff Cummings, President of Sunburst Designs, Inc., presented a lengthy tutorial last week at an Accellera Symposium and pinpointed several features in SystemVerilog, which in a perfect world would have been found in Verilog 2001, as well. Cummings said, “We rejected several things in Verilog 2001 because we couldn't reach agreement soon enough to meet our deadline, but they are in SystemVerilog because we did reach agreement and they are important.”

Some of those features include an auto-increment in the For loop, an enumerated data type, and a record data type. Cummings also told his audience, “For large, top-level ASIC designs, I fully anticipate a 70-percent decrease in the code needed to execute a design. You're going to find that SystemVerilog is definitely less verbose than Verilog!”

3 - Observation on SystemC

This from John Cooley the ESNUG guy: “SystemC will be the dominant language when pigs fly!” ( Although from many reports I hear from this corner or that, pigs may yet fly - only time will tell - I take my hat off to someone who's willing to take a stand for his constituency.

4 - The University of Washington

I had a marvelous visit to the University of Washington a number of weeks ago. Not only was I enamored of the campus, but I spent 2 fascinating hours discussing a huge range of topics with Professor Carl Sechen, an articulate technologist in the Department of Electrical Engineering. I finished an article based on that conversation several days ago and was in the midst of verifying the technical details via e-mail with Dr. Sechen, when situational irony came a'knocking. I got word that the authorities on campus - in their infinite wisdom - fired my beloved 20-year-old, a junior at UW, from her job as an RA in one of their mega-dorms.

Now, you know and I know that into every life a little rain must fall - and my daughter has to learn to take her hard knocks along with the rest of the brotherhood of man - but why a University/employer waits until the afternoon before finals begin to fire an employee/student, and why that termination has to take place in a glass-walled office in full view of an employee's co-workers outside, is beyond comprehension. Not surprisingly, I have concluded that UW is not a place I want to celebrate in print right now.

I do celebrate my daughter, however, as a noble and ethical individual. She made a difficult decision in a complex situation, and for that she has lost her job and her home. I'm proud of her and I hope she reads this someday. I hope that she continues to listen to her inner voice about what is right - even when it means making the tougher, less convenient, or less conventional choice. I also sincerely apologize to Dr. Sechen for having taken up his time for nothing. I hope he will allow me to re-visit the article at a later date.

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