The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: Part 1


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Wowza. Get on board the Multi-core Train!

* Mentor Graphics has got a new “task-oriented parallelism technology” in its Olympus-SoC P&R system. The company says the new technology “allows timing analysis and optimization tasks to run in parallel to deliver up to 7X improvement in timing analysis run times, and up to 4X improvement in design closure times using eight CPU cores.” NEC’s offering up endorsements, as is Fujitsu.

The only thing I’d take issue with in the October 13th press release from Mentor is the same thing I always take issue with. This is not news: “The latest ICs require exponentially increasing processing power to reach physical design closure within tight time-to-market schedules. Design sizes continue to increase with Moore’s Law, complicated by manufacturing variability and signal integrity issues that require closure over many design and process modes and corners.”

What is new? Also from the Olympus-SoC P&R release: “The best way to gain additional speed is to apply the full power of multi-core processors to the most compute-intensive aspect of the flow – timing analysis and optimization related tasks.”

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SPICE gets an upgrade – having your cake and eating it, too

"RASER is the first simulator in the market that does not trade off accuracy for capacity and performance."

* Angel-funded EDA startup Infinisim hopes to become the next household name in simulators. The company’s newly announced RASER “guarantees SPICE-accurate results with an average of 50 times speedup and capacity for large mixed-signal circuits. Underlying RASER … is Infinisim’s patent-pending Real-time Adaptive Simulation technology, [which] adapts to the changing circuit simulation environment at every time-point of the simulation while using the full device models and adhering to the full SPICE accuracy requirements. Using this technology, RASER is able to automatically and simultaneously deliver SPICE accuracy and handle large-scale mixed-signal circuits.”

I spoke by phone with the team at Infinisim on September 26th and was impressed with their confidence. As you all know, in the world of startups, Silicon Valley, and money, it’s all about team – so be placing your bets on Zakir Syed, Perry Gee, Dileep Divekar, and Samia Rashid. Their combined track record includes Simplex, Ceva, Applied Simulation Tech, iManage, and more. They swear by their new technology, are proud that it’s angel money, not VC money, that’s fueling their enterprise, and they fully expect to succeed sooner than later. Watch their space for further developments.

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ARM is not an EDA vendor …

* Nonetheless, they’ve got some pretty cool tools. I chatted with the RealView team from ARM on October 7th at the ARM Developers Conference in Santa Clara. We talked about the newest version of RealView tool, but rather than quote from my notes on what ARM’s Elan Tanzer and Mark Onions told me in person in Santa Clara, here’s a soundbite from their press release:

“A host of new benefits combine in the RealView Development Suite 4.0 Professional, including new compilation techniques to achieve up to 10-percent processor performance improvement and enhanced system profiling … Among the key benefits: 1) Link-time code generation [to] significantly reduces code size, and gain the option to either increase system functionality with no additional memory requirement, or lower overall system cost; 2) Profiler-driven compilation, [which] enables code to be optimized based on actual use, significantly improving software performance and responsiveness of applications on ARM processors; and 3) A new version of the ARM Profiler. [which] supports capture and storage of continuous instruction trace for up to 10 days, which would provide detailed information on what software the device is executing and how this affects the performance and behavior of the system.”

I repeat, ARM is not an EDA vendor …

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ARM builds community and communities …

* ARM now boasts 475 companies in the AMR Connected Communiy. That community was out in force in Santa Clara this past week when ARM CEO Warren East gave his keynote at ARM Dev Con on Tuesday morning. East spoke affectionately about the hundreds of partners in his community, declared collaboration to be the key to the future, and looked back only long enough to praise the broad shoulders of previous technologists and their contributions over the last 60 years which have culminated to over 12 billion ARM cores having been shipped to date. Wow. That’s a lot of ARM in your/my life.

The only time I questioned East’s comments is when he declared that the ad content online is spreading attests to the power of today’s web-based businesses. As a journalist who sees further despair among the editorial community, I’m not sure the folks in the Press Room would completely concur with East’s optimism about the quantity of online advertising.

Nonetheless, it’s true the world has moved online – no doubt thanks, in part, to the efforts of the folks at ARM. However, it’s the future of the smart, embedded, distributed nodes of the electronic network that now drives our world where ARM and its 475 partners now lives. Sensors, limited feature products, things that work without accessing the mother ship really are where it’s happening. Ad dollars online are not an indication of the growth of the Web. The proliferation of remote access devices are.

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Sun awards $$ for really good ideas …

* Sun Microsystems has launched their Open Source Community Innovation Awards Contest to inspire students, professors, and industry types alike to get the lead out in pursing applications and technologies to speed up the Open Source Express. More’s the better that progress in multi-core is benefiting, as well. The contest started in 2008 and will happen again in 2009.

EDA’s own Shrenik Mehta, Chair of Accellera, Senior Director for Frontend Technologies and the OpenSPARC program at Sun, and a coordinator for the Innovation Awards Contest, is quoted in the Sun Press Release bragging on this year’s winners: "Sun developed the Open Source Community Innovation Awards Program to foster innovation on a global level and recognize the most interesting initiatives within open source communities worldwide. The winners ranged from professors and students in academia to developers working in industry, all of whom demonstrated extraordinary creativity and collaboration leading to some outstanding innovations that will have a very real impact on the OpenSPARC community."

One of this year’s winners, Andrey Brito, a PhD student at the Dresden University of Technology, won $20,000 for the “Best Adaptation of a Single-thread Application to a Multi-thread CMT Environment. “
Brito is quoted in the Press Release: "The performance of single thread applications can be increased considerably by processing events in parallel. In my submission, I used speculation to harness the power of multi-cores to parallelize stateful components, which provided a 400% increase in application performance. Hopefully my example will motivate other people to optimize their applications to take advantage of the significant increase in performance of multithreaded computing environments."


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