Will Blog for Food

Now, I'm not writing these things down - extracted as they are from the materials I brought home with me - because of the free breakfast, although my being interested might have been influenced by the food. I'm writing them down, because I want to point out that the most interesting parts of the morning were not the details about the Virtex-5.

The most interesting part was a comment made by Wim Roelandts before the technical tutorial. Wim noted that everybody now knows that structured ASICs have not lived up to their promise, and therefore we're back to understanding that FPGAs will be the only thing in the future when it comes to spunky, flexible, non-ASIC design paradigms.

I wanted to ask Wim, where have I been to have missed this fact? I know LSI's RapidChip structured ASIC initiative has been shelved, but I didn't know we're giving up completely on structured ASICs. So, I was glad I went to the Xilinx breakfast because that kind of info is even more stimulating than a strong cup of coffee served up with muffins and fruit.

04/19   Lunch with OneSpin Solutions in Redwood Shores

The Mistral is a stone's throw from Oracle's Emerald City in Redwood Shores, so it's a restaurant with a trendy and upscale atmosphere. What better place to meet up, then, with the Europeans from OneSpin Solutions who are in town touting their upcoming launch in early May? I had the carrot soup and a glass of wine, but neither OneSpin CTO Wolfram Büttner, nor VP of Sales & Marketing Thierry Le Squeren, were drinking - it was before 5 pm, for goodness sakes.

Besides, Thierry arrived late - by taxi straight from the airport. His plane had been delayed coming in from Paris, plus the mayor of Paris was onboard his plane and had to be greeted at SFO by the mayor of San Francisco. That may have helped with World Peace, but it didn't help Thierry one bit.

Anyway, Wolfram, Thierry, and I had a far-ranging conversation about the company, how they're a spin out of technology from Infineon and Siemens, and what they think the future of verification really is. Clearly, these guys think they're going to be a part of that future, and chalk it up to the wine if you want to, but their story sounds convincing.

The OneSpin product is an “automated static formal verification” tool (that's from the Press Release) and it's been used successfully, they tell me, by various European design teams. Now, it's time to launch the company and prepare to enter the EDA industry as a full-blown player - expanding geographically from their headquarters in Munich to having a presence in Silicon Valley, as well.

I'm thinking it would be good to track down the folks at Jasper, plus Harry Foster who's now at Mentor, to have further conversation about this formal verification thing, and to get their read on the OneSpin announcement.

Meanwhile, it was reluctantly revealed to me this afternoon that the OneSpin offices in Munich are very close to the fair grounds for that city's annual legendary Oktober Fest. Clearly, if the guys from OneSpin can be that clever in situating their offices in Munich, they can't help but be a success in EDA!

03/06   Breakfast at SNUG in San Jose

Synopsys has not always invited the Press to attend their User Group meetings. In fact, it's a habit they're just now getting around to. So, I was happy to make my way to the Marriott Hotel in Santa Clara to attend my first SNUG today.

The nice folks at the registration desk in the hallway outside the main ballroom were busy - lots of attendees, lots of badges, lots of materials to be distributed - but they were very welcoming when I arrived and had my badge waiting for me, plus a special request to sit in the “Reserved for Press” section in the ballroom nearby where Synopsys CEO Aart de Geus was going to be delivering the opening keynote for the 3-day conference.

Much to my liking, the Press section was not in the front row, but off to the right and mid-way back in the ballroom. I really like the anonymity of being back in the crowd when I'm attending industry events. Sitting in the front seems counterproductive to watching the way a speaker interacts with an audience.

Anyway, as I waited for Aart to begin his talk - he was introduced by SNUG San Jose Technical Chair Leah Clark from Broadcom - I noticed that my packet of information said: “Press are respectfully asked not to ask questions at the keynote. We will make Aart available for 15 minutes in the Press Room to answer questions after his talk.”

Aart de Geus spoke from 8:45 to 10:00. It seemed like he touched on every single thing that Synopsys is currently involved in. There were maybe 700 people in the audience. I didn't actually count them, but there were a lot and they all seemed to be paying close attention to Aart.

Some of Aart's slides seemed to suffer a little bit from what I call “happy talk” … but it's probably Aart's prerogative to put an optimistic spin on what the company's doing, especially at his company's own users conference. Besides, it looked like the hundreds of Synopsys tool users sitting around me were smart enough to know that tools from any vendor, including Synopsys, sometimes don't live up to the marketing pitch that precedes them.

After Aart was done, the floor was opened up to questions. The first question asked if mask costs going up are going to drive the number of design starts down. Aart said no, the scare is overblown. Masks are expensive, but the cost of design is coming down. Then, there were a couple of questions about test that Synopsys Senior VP and GM Antun Domic came up and answered. Then John Cooley posed a question from the floor.

He wanted to know why users seem less enthusiastic about Synopsys' IC Compiler than Design Compiler, and suggested that Synopsys had released IC Compiler too soon. Antun said no, the release wasn't premature and cited STMicro as one of several high-profile customers who are pleased with progress on the product.

Then Sunburst Design's Cliff Cummings asked a question about the ESL market. Aart said ESL promises to be a great market, but Synopsys' focus is on building IP because the ESL market is still very small.

John Cooley asked another question. Is Synopsys' Pilot Design Environment - John called it, “Your Pilot thingy” - just a hook for the company's design services or is it a real product?

Aart said, “We don't sell thingy's.” The audience laughed, but Aart didn't.

After the session was over, I hurried to the Press Room several corridors away in the hotel. I was hungry and I knew there would be good food there. I wasn't disappointed - a buffet fit for kings.

Aart eventually showed up and gave the Press Corps some minutes to ask questions, then rushed off to other meetings. I asked Aart about DFM and he said designers understand DFM but want the tools automated so they don't have to think about DFM. But, I really wanted to ask Aart why John Cooley was allowed to ask questions after Aart's keynote.

Isn't John part of the Press Corps, and wasn't the Press supposed to zip it until afterwards? But maybe I'm wrong. After all, John wasn't in the Press Room scarfing down food with the rest of us - when it comes to SNUG, John's a user. I guess it's only at DAC that he's Press. Also, maybe if John doesn't accept as much food from the industry as the rest of us, he's probably at greater liberty to be candid.

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Review Article
  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Rob'
    Your dissection of the "pimp" analogy just proves that any analogy can not only be misundertstood, but taken apart to the point that the original meaning of the analogy is lost.
    I think the "pimp" analogy was meant to express the reality that people selling their own products will strut the product like it's the best thing on earth even with all the dirty truths lurking beneath.
    Often, it's up to the customer to dig, ruthlessly evaluate and discover the truths about wether the tool really lives up to the "pimp" hype. And as other experts have already stated. The EDA industry has many point tool solutions that aim to solve numerous problems in various corners. However, the real need is more integrated and holistic solutions.

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