DAC 2006: As the world turns, the pendulum swings


7 - SystemVerilog is attractive to the users because it helps to create a level playing field between the vendors, but,

6 - The major EDA vendors are not working in unison to implement the same subsets of SystemVerilog at the same time.

5 - So, the users still have to distinguish between the forms of SystemVerilog the various verification tool vendors support.

4 - The people driving the SystemVerilog effort are too courteous.

3 - The users implementing SystemVerilog are too prickly and difficult.

2 - If SystemVerilog were perceived to be fully available for implementation, as well as verification, people would be more enthused.

1 - But questions would still remain as to which language and level of abstraction is appropriate for writing models.



Top 10 Questions which remain unanswered with regards to DFM

10 - Is DFM a real market yet, or are people just looking for a trendy label for their tools?

9 - If DFM vendors succeed in solving the manufacturing problems, will they share their winnings with their customers?

8 - How can people judge which tools are best when evaluations are so expensive?

7 - True or False? There is lots of empirical data to prove the tools are useful.

6 - Is DFM about getting more mileage out of 90 and 65 nanometers, or about moving to even smaller geometries?

5 - Does Synopsys want or need to partner with some of the new players in the DFM space? If so, which companies would they be?

4 - Ditto for Mentor Graphics, Cadence, and Magma.

3 - Which of the Big 4 companies will buy which of the small companies among the plethora of DFM start-ups currently underway?

2 - Is DFM as old as the hills, or still wet behind the ears?

1 - Inserting DFM tools into the flow is potentially disruptive to an engineer's established design techniques. How do tool vendors overcome the inevitable resistance to change for the sake of increased yields?



Top 6 Worst Moments at DAC 2006

6 - The slides at the Dataquest event on Sunday night presented by the current EDAC Chairman indicated that there are 3 big water buffalo at the head of the industry, who stand shoulder to shoulder at the watering hole while everyone else waits in line. The emerging companies are indistinguishable from one another. Lifecycle management software vendors belong at a different conference, and the EDA Press are all wart hogs - presumably emitting not much more than noxious fumes. I'm not even going to talk about the old goat. It's not that I was offended by the slides; it's just that it was all so darn close to reality. A hoot and a holler for the In Crowd in attendance at the cocktail party/industry briefing, but a mind-numbingly negative vibe for anyone young and innovative who might be interested in entering the industry. When the message says loud and clear that EDA's made up of a lot of old farts, who in their right mind would want to come and work here?

5 - An EDA vendor on the panel in the Hacks & Flacks session pointing to a leading journalist sitting in the audience and loudly demanding to know, in response to a earlier statement from that journalist: "And who nominated you? Who elected you to be an advocate for the engineer? You don't have the right to be an advocate for anybody! You should only be an advocate for the truth!"

4 - Walking out of the DFM panel with Joe Sawicki after the end of that session during the last hour on the last day of DAC, Joe told me that nothing was learned on the panel, but that if he had had access to a system and at least 30 minutes, he could have fully demonstrated the error of many of the statements made during the panel. I asked Joe if I had just wasted 90 minutes of my life. He said panels are theater; they're meant as entertainment and as far as entertainment goes, that one was right at the top. He says he was blown away by the fact that there was standing room only for a panel on the last hour of the last day of DAC. I thought Joe undervalued the interplay between the panel participants: Clear Shape's Atul Sharan, Pyxis' Naeem Zafar, Aprio's Mike Gianfagna, Blaze's Andrew Kahng, Mentor's Sawicki, and Synopsys' Raul Camposano. I suspect one or more of those 4 small players won't be with us by next year, so the panel was historic if only for that.

3 - Ask the CTO Pavilion Panel. How 4 extremely bright intellects - Cadence's Ted Vucurevich, Synopsys' Raul Camposano, Applied Material's Mark Pinto, and U.C. Berkeley's Kurt Keutzer - could be dull, defies the imagination. But, there you have it. Maybe when corporate caution meets an unscripted public forum, creativity and spunk are the unintended victims. The folks on stage mumbled about DFM. They mumbled about ESL. They mumbled about SSTA. I learned nothing, and I doubt anyone else in attendance did either. Remarkably, several people around me were actually dozing. If the CTOs of the big players in EDA can't really shoot from the hip, then let's meet in the bar rather than in the DAC Pavilion 'living room.' The conversation may be off the record in the bar, but at least it'll be raucous and fun. Please!

2 - Not a woman in sight. At the DFM panel on Thursday afternoon, there were 6 men on the panel, one man moderating, and at least 20 men who stood up to ask questions from the floor - prompted to do so, not doubt, because the best question was going to win a prize. There was not a single woman's voice heard for the entire 90-minute session. Nobody up in front, and nobody from the floor. If you're a woman who's interested in a career in technology, let me suggest you pursue a different sector. Because the truth is, it just ain't happening in EDA.

1 - Knowing that DAC was ending, and there wouldn't be enough time to fully explore everything on the Exhibition Hall floor.



Top 10 Best Moments at DAC 2006

10 - The final song of the first set at the Denali party at the Fillmore, Gary Smith and Joanne Wegener on vocals singing, "I've got my Mojo Back." However truth be told, all 3 industry bands - Full Disclosure Blues, 3rd Street Coalition, and The All-Cadence Band - were fantastic!

9 - Joe Costello flopping around on the stage like a fish and demonstrating to the 1000+ people in the audience for his Monday afternoon keynote how to think like a fish if you want to catch a fish. Costello's keynote was unforgettable for three reasons. One, I was hoping there was a cardiologist somewhere nearby just in case Costello went into cardiac arrest during his breathless, barnstorming speech. Two, the audience was thrilled with his performance. And three, if you listen to what Costello said and really take it to heart - by definition, you can't be an old fart, and whatever industry you're involved in is guaranteed to be awash in zest and out-of-the box thinking. [ A note : Costello said you should write the Press Release first, and then develop the product. For those who take issue with Press Releases in general, don't hold this against him.]

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Review Article
  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Robi'
    Great point to Cremonesi's from STMicrolectronics. His energy and vision made the keynote at DAC very effective and successful.

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  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'trgregory'
    Peggy as usual gives us the whole gambit, a mixture of emotional frustration at the world in general through knowledgeable EDA stuff. I enjoyed reading it, finding it a bit Kafka-ish, surreal and real as well as contradictiory at times, with a lot of weary disappointment thrown in. The lack of women in the EDA field is a major irritant for her, but no suggestions for how to correct, if possible, provided. I agree about the 'junk' consumer products, too many, and have often thought about what could replace them and profitably employ enough folk, and be profitable for investment, but nothing is obvious. ESL and SystemVerilog are still floundering, although the hype spewing forth assures us that's not the case. Keep plugging along Peggy and best wishes for better events.

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  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Phil Nigh'
    Peggy,
    I disagree with one of your comments. Now is a great time for females who are interested in IC/EDA industry. Semiconductor companies love to hire females. I've been on recruiting visits ... e.g., with Bill Joyner's SRC group ... and I see IC companies really favoring female engineers. (I tried to avoid other jargon ... like 'jump all over them'...) I agree with this approach.
    I think the issue (which industry can also help with) is ensuring females are studying semiconductor & EDA areas at university as an undergraduate.
    Again, for females who want to work in IC industry/EDA -- now is a great time.
    I'm a normal engineer ... not recruiter or anthing else.
    Regards,
    Phil Nigh


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  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'trgregory'
    Peggy as usual gives us the whole gambit, a mixture of emotional frustration at the world in general through knowledgeable EDA stuff. I enjoyed reading it, finding it a bit Kafka-ish, surreal and real as well as contradictiory at times, with a lot of weary disappointment thrown in. The lack of women in the EDA field is a major irritant for her, but no suggestions for how to correct, if possible, provided. I agree about the 'junk' consumer products, too many, and have often thought about what could replace them and profitably employ enough folk, and be profitable for investment, but nothing is obvious. ESL and SystemVerilog are still floundering, although the hype spewing forth assures us that's not the case. Keep plugging along Peggy and best wishes for better events.

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  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Ronald'
    Once again Peggy tell us a human story from a technology conference. Thumbs up.

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