Thought Leaders -3 men, 3 minds, 1 industry

This article is a special treat for me. Thanks to the willingness of the three executives interviewed here, to entertain conversations that were neither scripted nor screened, I have had a chance to get to know these fellows just a tad better. I hope that you will also know them a bit better, as well, after you've read what they have to say.

It's so easy in this dark and troubled world to sink into a malaise of cynicism, bitterness, or anger. The larger world works hard to push us there, and oftentimes, so does the smaller, more intimate neighborhood of EDA. But for today, at least, let's just put all of that aside. Just for a little while.

These three men lead the three largest companies in the EDA industry. If the combined revenues for the industry per the recent EDAC report stand at $4.5 billion for 2005, then these three men, and their three companies, represent a cool 70 percent of the total. I'm not suggesting that money talks, but if you don't want to hear what these fellows have to say, maybe you need to move to a different neighborhood. They are the leaders here, for better or worse.

So, please. Go get that proverbial cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and listen in as Aart de Geus, Wally Rhines, and Mike Fister share some opinions on a pretty large range of topics. I thought the conversations were absolutely fascinating, and I was delighted to speak to each one of them. I hope you'll feel the same way.

[Editor's Note: In a perfect world, these interviews would run in 3 columns, side-by-side. Given that was not possible, I have opted instead to list the interviews in the order in which these three gentlemen moved into the EDA neighborhood. So basically, they're listed by age-in EDA years. Also please note, the bios come from their respective company websites.]



The Bios and Pics

Dr. Aart de Geus is Chairman of the Board, CEO, and Co-founder of Synopsys, Inc. Since co-founding Synopsys in 1986, de Geus has expanded Synopsys from a start-up synthesis enterprise to a world leader in EDA. Based on his work in logic simulation and logic synthesis, de Geus was made a Fellow of the IEEE in January 1999. He was also honored for pioneering the commercial logic synthesis market by being named the third recipient of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Industrial Pioneer Award. In 2002, shortly after transacting the Synopsys merger/acquisition of Avanti Corp., de Geus was named CEO of the Year by Electronic Business magazine; and in 2004, Entrepreneur of the Year in IT for Northern California by Ernst & Young. In November 2005, Electronic Business magazine chose de Geus as one of its “10 Most Influential Executives.” Dr. de Geus is active in the business community as a member of the board of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG), the EDA Consortium, TechNet, and the Fabless Semiconductor Association (FSA). He is also involved in education for the next generation, having created in 1999 the Synopsys Outreach Foundation, which promotes project-based science and math learning throughout Silicon Valley. In 2001, Tsinghua University in Beijing granted de Geus the title of Guest Professor. Dr. de Geus holds an MSEE from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Southern Methodist University.

Dr. Walden Rhines is Chairman and CEO of Mentor Graphics Corp. During Rhines' tenure at Mentor Graphics, revenue has more than doubled, growth rate over the last five years has been number one among the Big 3 EDA companies, and the company has grown the industry's number one market share solutions in physical verification and analysis, design concept through functional verification and PCB design. Prior to joining Mentor Graphics, Rhines was Executive Vice President at Texas Instruments, sharing responsibility for TI's Components Sector, and having direct responsibility for the entire semiconductor business with more than $5 billion of revenue and over 30,000 people. Rhines served as Chairman of the Semiconductor Technical Advisory Committee of the Department of Commerce, as an executive committee member of the board of directors of the Corporation for Open Systems, as a board member of the Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers' Association (CBEMA), and as a board member of Sematech. He is currently Board Chairman of the EDA Consortium, Chairman of the Materials Science and Engineering Advisory Board at Stanford University, and a board member of the Semiconductor Research Corp. and Lewis and Clark College. Dr. Rhines holds a B.S. in metallurgical engineering from the University of Michigan, an M.S. and Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University, an M.B.A. from Southern Methodist University, and an Honorary Doctor of Technology degree from Nottingham Trent University.

Mr. Michael Fister is President and CEO of Cadence Design Systems, Inc. Prior to joining Cadence, he spent 17 years at Intel Corp., where he was most recently Senior Vice President and General Manager of the company's Enterprise Platforms Group. During Fister's tenure as General Manager, Intel garnered commanding market segment share, including the introduction of the Itanium processor family. Other products included a complement of Xeon processors, chipsets, boards/systems, and software tools and services. Previously, Fister served as Vice President and General Manager of the Performance Microprocessor Group, where he managed Intel's IA-32 processor development organization and was responsible for the design, development and marketing of IA-32 processors, including the last versions of the Intel486 and the entire line including the Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Pentium III, Celeron, Pentium II Xeon, and Pentium III Xeon processors. Prior to this role, Fister held many other product development positions at Intel and has a long legacy of successful technology development and product delivery. Fister is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where he received a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering. He spent his early years in a variety of executive and engineering management positions at Wyse, Machine Vision International, and Cincinnati Milacron. He currently sits on the board of directors of Autodesk Corp. and two non-profit organizations, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.



A conversation with Aart de Geus - April 20, 2006

Q - Can digital electronics save the world?

Aart de Geus - Saving the world is an ambition that can't be attached to a few holes and electrons. But, it's clear that there are certain things that have come about because of the power of electronics, and digital electronics specifically.

As an example from the past, one could absolutely argue that part of the reason that the Berlin Wall came down is that the power of communications is unstoppable. And as much as a country like China, partially for good reasons, has to manage communications-otherwise, they would turn into chaos-now there's so much opportunity for communication over the Web and so on, I think in China and other places where communication's becoming available to more and more people, in general, there will be a better foundation for freedom and over time, for prosperity as well.

Another example that I think is fabulous, not so much as to contrast to my earlier statement as to compare-look at the situation at the beginning of the 1500's. At the beginning of that century, there was a conjunction of many things happening in technology, and in food, and in management, but they all converged on a single thing-the map of the world had became a globe. The voyages of that time meant there was a global map, where every single piece of data that had been previously understood separately suddenly found a place that made sense. That entire scenario had a tremendous impact on the development of everything from art to technology. And it was very symbolic of the time-the external map of the globe coming together.

Today, a similarly important development is the human genome. The map of what makes us who we are from a physical point of view is now known, along with the psychological implications of that knowledge. The reason for that genome map is clearly due to insights from many fields, but the actual calculations of what the DNA looks like is only possible because of the super compute capabilities that digital electronics have delivered. Out of that compute capability, comes the sudden availability of the map of the human genome.

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