August 13, 2007
Jim Solomon: Burning Intellect, Restless Man
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Peggy Aycinena - Contributing Editor

by Peggy Aycinena - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

It’s August and if you’re not at the beach or in the mountains, you should be. Summer will be ending soon and these long, lazy afternoons will morph into those hectic mornings of early fall. So hurry up and relax while you’ve still got time.

Alternatively – if you can’t or won’t relax – first catch up on a bit of news, and then enjoy a visit with EDA Legend Jim Solomon, a restless guy with a burning intellect who does “hurry up and relax” with the singular vengeance often noted in successful Silicon Valley veterans. Jim Solomon’s not slowing down with the passing years, he’s speeding up.


Just some of the news worth noting …

Although August is quiet, there is news off the wires that will (may) have impact going forward. Here’s a small sampler. The longer, fuller version is at the back of the bus.

announced EDA industry revenues went up by 10 % in Q1 2007 compared to Q1 2006; Virage Logic announced the acquisition of privately held Ingot Systems, an IP and design services company; and Nanno SOLUTIONS announced Kejing Song is the new CEO.

Synopsys was happy to report that Intel has declared Synopsys the company’s “primary EDA supplier.” Although the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, I’m guessing the company hopes we’ll see the irony given the number of Intel alums that reside in the executive suites at Cadence. However, given similar Cadence “sole source” pronouncements relative to Freescale some time back, any future irony may come at Synopsys’ expense should Intel announce other major EDA vendor relationships going forward just as Freescale eventually did.

“Savvy?,” asked Captain Jack.

Mentor Graphics has done the philanthropy thing big time by donating multiple tool suites in quick succession to the youth of the world – Lahore University of Management in Pakistan, Michigan’s Kettering University in the U.S., and Imperial College London in the U.K. – hence proving,

"Not all treasure is of silver and gold, Mate."

From Silicon Valley, Cadence EVP Jim Miller told me by phone that my impressions from the recent Analyst/Press phone briefing were wrong. He courteously answered several of my distinctly discourteous assertions, and insisted that Cadence is not out to achieve world domination in EDA.

Miller said, “Like anyone, I wouldn’t want to live in a one-party state politically, but part of the aspirations of any company – be it a Cadence, Synopsys, Mentor Graphics, or Magma – should be striving to achieve the highest level of competitive offerings. The customers can only benefit from that strong desire because it drives everyone to deliver the most innovative solutions possible.”

From the Land of EDA Startups comes word that FirstRain CEO Penny Herscher has been named Advisor to DFM startup Xoomsys, which is headed up by Synopsys alum Raul Camposano. A coincidence that Herscher also did time at Synopsys, prior to her stint at Simplex/Cadence?

From the Land of Companies who have Stanford in their Name, but showcase professors from Cal who endorse their technology, comes a huge announcement from Sun Microsystems – an 8-core, 64-bit chip multithreading monster that’ll knock your socks off from the standpoint of size, cost, power, and prestige. It’s the UltraSPARC T2, a.k.a. Niagra 2, which Sun says will lead next year to Victoria Falls, and then perhaps to the Snows of Kilimanjaro.

“Dr. Patterson, I presume?”

Meanwhile, make no mistake. The newest UltraSPARC has 500 million transistors at 65 nanometers, and intends to be a serious contender vying for the hearts and minds of those in need of capable EDA algorithm crunching platforms – especially if Gary Smith is right that the EDA guys are learning how to spell multithreading at long last.

From the Land of Small Players who cast Large Shadows, Innovative Silicon is partnering with Big Guy D-RAM producer Hynix to consider when and where you can replace a D with a Z, adding gravitas to the future of ISi’s Z-RAM. No exotic processes need apply.

Finally, if you aren’t actually vacationing in the mountains or at the shore, consider attending Hot Chips and/or Hot Interconnects on the Stanford campus during the week of August 20th. Dress code is casual, ambiance is relaxed, technology is intense, and the weather’s perfect. It’s Summer Camp all year long down on The Farm, so think about it before you say 'No.' It would be a lot more fun than sitting and fretting about wild swings in the international markets.


"This is either madness or brilliance."

"It's remarkable how often those two traits coincide."


Jim Solomon: Burning Intellect, Restless Man

As you all know, Jim began his career at Motorola, spent many years at National Semiconductor, got passionate about EDA, founded SDA Systems, hired and mentored Joe Costello, merged SDA with ECAD to create Cadence, grew the company, took it public, went on to found Smart Machines and Xulu Entertainment, won the Phil Kaufmann Award, was named an IEEE Fellow and picked up 20+ patents along the way. Currently, he’s serving on the boards of 6 companies, but that’s not all.

Jim Solomon is also a wanderer and a gambler, a dancer, a diver, a sailor, a skier, a skater, and an interesting guy. Now he wants to add Burning Man to that list, and here in the summer of 2007 he’ll probably succeed.

For those of you who don’t know,
Burning Man is a week-long event that’s one part Woodstock, one part spiritual retreat, and two parts cultural phenom that’s been playing itself out on the hot, hot Playa of sun-baked Nevada for more than 20 summers. Over a long lunch recently in Palo Alto, Jim Solomon told me that going to Burning Man is an extension of his efforts over the past few years to get beyond the engineering that’s in his blood. But after hearing him out, I think Jim Solomon’s fate is sealed. Because beneath it all – the sports, the active living, and the spiritual exploration –
he’s just a hardworking nerd on an unending quest for balance in his life.

“I don’t find many engineers in the places I go these days,” Solomon told me, “except on the ski slopes. Like many engineers, I was slow to grow socially. Now that I’m over the hill, I’m finally socially hip. But I certainly wasn’t 20 years ago back when I was just focused on science. Once in a while I get together with old engineering friends and it’s actually a little tough. I have to try to force myself to get into their realm, but I find we have little in common anymore [because of how I‘m evolving as a human being].

“The single most important thing [I’m doing these days] is sports. It used to be diving and sailing, but now it’s skiing, rollerblading, and aerobic dancing – all things I like to do with music. I’ve got a million songs in my MP3 player, and it’s always the beat that’s important. It has to be very ‘up’ music if you want to be happy, so I put on some Abba and away I go.

“I do weight training and aerobic dance at least 3 times a week, and strangely enough, that keeps my body in shape and my stress under control. One time recently, I lost at poker in Las Vegas, but then just went dancing at the House of Blues. It felt so good, I was blown away. These are the things you begin to discover [with time] – how to relax.

“The truth is, I’ve battled stress all my life. I’ve always tended to stress out, [yet] have often gotten myself into situations that were tough to resolve. Pure engineering problems don’t cause stress, but engineering management does, and no matter what you do in engineering, you get pushed into management. Engineers are very complex people – quite honestly, the best ones are screwed up – but I’ve made my career over the last 30 years by managing these people. I’ve found myself protecting numerous weird characters from upper management, and getting into battles
as a result. I’ve also spent my life being able to identify really good people, which has actually been a lot of fun, especially when you’re working on the cutting edge of things.”

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-- Peggy Aycinena, Contributing Editor.


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