April 27, 2009
DATE’09: Pousser ou Tirer à Nice
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Parisians believes the Isle de France is the fountainhead of all things French. When one arrives in Nice, however, it is clear that the Cote d'Azure did not get the memo. Silicon Valley believes it is the fountainhead of all things EDA. When one arrives at DATE, however, it is clear that the European EDA community did not get the memo.
This past week, Nice felt like the center of all things French; DATE felt like the center of all things EDA. Sorry to disappoint, but Nice and DATE may be right. Nice was lively, relaxed, and colorful; DATE'09 was lively, energetic, and full of a variety of languages and viewpoints - most being system-level, peppered with multicore and a dollop of governmental instigation thrown in for good measure.
Europe is not North America, and vice-versa. North America, Silicon Valley in particular, prides itself on pulling progress, through entrepreneuralism and innovation; Europe is a lot more about pushing through governmental investments and societal visioning. In truth, neither geography is all pull or all push. They are both, both. It's simply a matter of degree.
This is my fifth visit to DATE. Each time I am re-energized by the enthusiasm and innovative twist the European community brings to the engineering and business of design automation. Following are snapshots of some of the encounters I enjoyed at DATE'09 in Nice.
Various voices of those who exhibited at DATE, or not ...
Walking across the Exhibition Hall in the Nice Acropolis Convention Center, I did not sense the
crisis of exhibitors recently reference by an EDA pundit. It's true, there were visibly fewer exhibitors at DATE'09 than in past years, but the booths - all of the same size and texture - seemed thoroughly democratized, accessible, and conversational. Some vendors told me they had a "great show," while others told me "traffic is slow." Was this spectrum of comments any different than I've heard at conferences for many years now? Absolutely not.
* I met with
Sylvain Kaiser in the
Mykronos Café - CEO and CTO, respectively, of
DOCEA Power. The company they founded in 2006, based in Moirans (France), provides tools for power management at the system level. The DOCEA strategy separates various concerns - functional, timing, power, and temperature - at early stages in design. The idea of optimizing to multiple metrics is not new to EDA. Applying the idea at the system level, however, is an emerging concept. These two young brothers bring years of experience to their company, Ghislain having worked at STMicro and Sylvian at Infineon. Their enthusiasm, joire de vivre, and product traction at big design houses will translate into a mandate: Watch DOCEO Power over the coming years.
* I also met with
David Murray, CTO at
Duolog Technologies. His terrific enthusiasm is also palpable. Based in Galway (Ireland), Duolog addresses needs at the system level with their Spinner, Bitwise, and Weaver tools, all knit together in the Doulog Socrates platform. Standing in theDuolog Booth, Murray said hardware issues that should be brought to closure in 2 weeks today, still take 12 weeks or longer. In Doulog parlance, these "elephants in the room" delay access to silicon and hence delay the tortuous (my word, not David's) process of software development. Although Doulog started out as an IP and services company, they are now a tool provider intending to solve this dilemma. The Doulog evolution mirrors the historic trajectory of many an EDA company; the Doulog tools, allowing customized granularity of views into the affects of high-level design decisions, mirror the future of system-level design.
* In the
Press Room, I met with
François Englebert, Vice President of Sales atCoFluent Design, based in Nantes (France). An EDA company of long standing, CoFluent is a significant contributor to the widespread move to ESL. CoFluent Studio is a "visual ESL architectural development solution" that provides performance analysis for hardware/software co-design. François is a serious-minded individual, proud of the 80 man-years of effort represented in CoFluent Studio. Early versions of the tool evolved, per François, to meet the expressed needs of Tier 1 customers, "leading to additional profiling and simulation capabilities. [Recently announced] Version 3 includes an improved Eclipse-based graphical interface. Either you start with a
whiteboard, or Excel spreadsheet, and guess at the optimal architecture for your new product, or you start with our tool to guide you to the best implementation path." How does CoFluent position itself with respect to other ESL vendors? François advised that I stay tuned: "As we improve our ability to couple our tools with UML or other virtual platform vendors, you will see how we position ourselves with respect to other vendors."
* It's a perpetual pleasure to meet at DATE with
IMEC, based in Leuven (Belgium). The IMEC message, viewed within the context of the highly collaborative European design automation community, is appealing - a combo of government funding, universities, and industry players to create a research center and attitude to drive innovation across a plethora of technical paradigms. This year, I met with
Lauwereins, past DATE chair, and
Marent, in the
IMEC Booth. Rudy explained the process by which IMEC decides to move forward with a particular initiative. It's a 3-step process:
Ideation - The wild ideas appear, completely unstructured. We use a Web 2.0-type environment, so everyone can access the ideas and modify them, or indicate whether the ideas are long or short term, with or without commercial application.
Stage-gate funnel - We go through the business plan. Is there a unique selling plan, differentiation, competition, freedom to operate with regards to patents, a market, and a useful business model if we work with companies?
Execution - We check program progress at regular intervals. Can it continue? Should it be stopped? Should it be stopped, but in a way that allows our customers to keep working on the idea nonetheless?
Rudy said, "Tons of ideas come out of this process. Some are too weird. Some are too close to [current market offerings]. Some do not have sufficient differentiation. But some are quite good, and [inspire us] to move forward."
Ian Mackintosh is President of
OCP-IP, a standards body based in Beaverton (Oregon), but one with many European members. I met up with Ian in aMeeting Room , near the Mykronos Café. Ian was totally jazzed about the new SystemC TLM kit for OCP. With over 200 industry members, his non-profit organization is busy delivering "the only openly licensed, core-centric protocol comprehensively fulfilling integration requirements of heterogeneous multicore systems, and [facilitating] core reusability." IP reuse, models, and system-level languages - how quintessentially DATE!
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-- Peggy Aycinena, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.