Down but not out in Silicon Valley
New book from Grant Martin and Henry Chang - Grant Martin, Fellow at the Cadence Berkeley Labs, and Henry Chang, Director of Cadence's Strategy Group, have edited a new book, Winning the SoC Revolution: Experiences in Real Design. The 11 chapters are written by numerous well-known voices in the industry and cover a range of topics including the recent history of the SoC, relevant design methodologies, IP use, design reuse, implications of emerging FPGA technologies, the non-technical issues surrounding collaborative design and team integration across various design paradigms within a SoC project, and case studies from Philips, TI, IBM, ARM, Xilinx, and Altera, among others.
The text is readable and accessible - and more importantly, there is ample discussion of crucial concepts including platform-based design, verification, software/hardware partitioning, and system-level integration. The opening chapter by Martin has added appeal as he attempts a one-to-one mapping between the French Revolution and the SoC Revolution. But the not-to-miss chapter is from John Cohn at IBM, which closes the book. Cohn articulates the current state of the art in SoC design and lays out the far-ranging challenges facing the future of the technology. All told, if you can take a day or two to read this thing from cover to cover, you'll be ready to attend DAC. The book will be available at the Kluwar Press table in Anaheim.
ChipMD Inc., a newly announced EDA company, has opened its doors in Cupertino, CA, and joins the industry just in time for DAC. Dale Pollek is founder, CEO and president. Ken Maples is Vice President for Customer Support, and Ravi Ravikumar is Vice President for Business Development. In addition, Gary Larson is the Chairman of the Board. These fellows have 20+, 25+, 20+, and 30+ years' experience in EDA, respectively. The company says it will be selling tools that function at the design stage with the intention of improving yield at the manufacturing stage. The company also says its technology is already in production use by system and circuit designers in communications, computers, automotive, and consumer electronics markets
Critical Blue - As an additional indication of growing optimism in this industry, yet another EDA start-up has been announced. Critical Blue, formally launched on May 12th in Edinburgh, Scotland, will be offering its Cascade Tool Suite. The company says Cascade consists of a set of “unique co-processor synthesis tools that accelerate software in embedded microprocessor applications. It analyzes application software on the main microprocessor and, under the control of the user, automatically synthesizes a hardware co-processor specifically designed to accelerate software tasks selected by the user.”
The company points out that Cascade is neither a system-level hardware/software-partitioning advisor, nor a traditional configurable microprocessor platform, but rather a co-processor synthesis tool suite that provides hardware designers with a “true hybrid” between hardware and software.
David.Stewart, Founder and Vice President Sales and Marketing, said, “If customers can build into their products a level of flexibility that will allow them to make minor modifications to the product in the field, they'll have a solution for faster time to market. Meanwhile, we're delighted to have [industry guru] Simon Davidmann joining our Board of Directors. Simon knows we're addressing a market need here that's particularly important at this moment because of the tough economic climate.”
“Of course, you could ask why we need another EDA company. I don't think the big EDA companies can be relied on to come up with the next generation of tools to get customers to the next level of innovation. The big companies have enough problems just keeping their existing customers happy and dealing with technology migrations. They don't have the space and freedom to explore new areas and come up with the solutions that we're coming up with. When they do add technology that moves the industry to the next level, it's through acquisition.”
Stewart makes a compelling case - this company may very well be one of those worth watching going forward. Meanwhile, Luigi Mantellassi, Imaging Division Processors R&D Director at STMicroelectronics, is quoted in the Press Release: “We have recently tested the technology of Critical Blue and the initial results look very promising in terms of the performance/cost ratio and the development time we would have expected using traditional methods.”
Mentor Graphics Corp. announced a technology alliance with STMicroelectronics, which the companies say, was created to address the needs of today's analog/mixed-signal (AMS) and radio frequency (RF) designers. Mentor and ST have created a common R&D team with the goal of maximizing AMS and RF design productivity for the companies' mutual customers, as well as internal ST design teams. The alliance announcement said, “The alliance is another significant outcome of five years of cooperative effort between the two companies. Through the development of comprehensive VHDL-AMS model libraries and the integration of the Mentor Graphics AMS design and verification tools into STMicroelectronics' design kits, the two companies are developing methodologies to shorten design cycles and increase first-pass design success for AMS and RF designers.” This should be an interesting alliance to watch over the next several years.
Also from Mentor Graphics - The company announced that Patrick McManus has joined the company's Board of Directors. McManus retired recently from Charles Schwab as Senior Vice President of Finance. Previously, he held executive-level finance and management positions at companies including Pacific Express Airlines, Acurex Solar Corp., Itel Corp., and Univest Venture Capital. McManus has an MBA from Stanford University and a BA from Dartmouth.
TriCN announced the appointment of Dale Olstinske as Vice President of Sales. Olstinske has 25+ years' sales and management experience in the semiconductor industry. He has a BSECE from the University of Wisconsin, started his career at Intel, served in various roles at Marten, LSI Logic, and Frequency Technology, and most recently was responsible for growing worldwide sales revenue at LogicVision through the period of that company's IPO.
PSL/Sugar Consortium - Organizers says that the widespread adoption of the property specification language PSL/Sugar for assertion-based verification has prompted 15 electronics and EDA companies to announce initial steps in the formation of the PSL/Sugar Consortium. The new international organization will be chartered to help hardware designers adopt and implement PSL/Sugar and its methodologies to speed design verification. Founding members include: 0-In Design Automation, Inc., @HDL Inc., Cadence Design Systems Inc., IBM Corp., Novas Software, Inc., Real Intent, Inc., Ricoh Company, LTD., Summit Design Inc., SynaptiCAD, Inc., Tharas Systems, Inc., TNI-Valiosys, TransEDA PLC, Verisity Ltd., Veritable Inc., and Verplex Systems Inc.
In the category of ...
Is it just me, or are we all really cranky just before DAC?
I received an e-mail this past week in response to last week's monster issue on Linux et al, describing in detail how the newsletter needs to be abbreviated to meet the needs of the readership. Since this newsletter is done as a courtesy to the industry and provides a (perhaps flawed, but) much needed editorial platform for companies who are short on such during these barren and forlorn days in technical publishing - I'm not going to reduce the amount of content right now, particularly just prior to DAC. Many companies want to have their say, yet few have places within which to say it.
Having said that, here are four more companies speaking at my request on four more Issues at DAC. These are not intended to be detailed tutorials on topics, but a bit of constructive commentary as run-up to the substantive discussions that will no doubt take place in Anaheim.
Two weeks ago, we heard about Power, and SystemC versus SystemVerilog. Last week, we heard about Revitalizing EDA, and Structured ASICs. This week's discussions include Consortia for R&D, Design for Yield, FPGAs, and Analog Design. Next week, in the DAC issue, we'll hear about Memories, Design for Manufacturing, Test, and 90 nanometers.
Meanwhile, if all of this content is too much for the busy reader - I have a suggestion. Please read the bits that are of interest to you and skip the rest. Thanks.
Issues at DAC - Consortia for R&D
The Invest in Sweden Agency (ISA) was established in 1995 by the Swedish government to help attract and facilitate foreign direct investment in Sweden. Rolf Rising is Director and Head of IT and Electronics for the Agency and during a recent phone call, offered this description of the SoC research and education underway there. The idea of governments working together with industry and academia to sponsor R&D has always been an interesting one. Here are Rising's comments on how that's happening in Sweden.
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