March 13, 2006
DATE 2006: Between Gemütlichkeit und Angst
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on EDACafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
| 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 EDACafe.com. 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!
Nature itself came out to welcome the thousands who made their way to Munich last week to attend the 2006 conference on Design Automation & Test in Europe. The weekend prior to DATE, the skies let loose, the snows came down, trains, cars and trams were stopped, a plane skidded off the runway in Munich, and the city was covered in a snowfall so complete, the best thing to do was to take a long walk through the silent world to admire the outcome - presuming you had already arrived in Munich - and then retreat indoors for a hearty meal and a beer.
By Monday, the 6th, as Bavaria successfully dug out from under the heaviest snowfall in years, DATE got underway - offering attendees its usual warmth, hospitality, and excellent opportunities to learn both at a personal and a technical level. Unfortunately, those still enroute to Munich faced further delays or cancelled flights due to the weather, their troubles compounded by transportation strikes in various locales across Europe. Eventually most arrived (approximately 5000 people attended), and were glad they had persevered in order to attend DATE and participate in the conference, to see and be seen amidst the assembled design community there.
At a technical level, the conference was rich in content. General Chair Georges Gielen, Professor at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, told me the program committee received more paper submissions this year than ever before, just short of 900, and that DATE has come to be respected worldwide for the quality of its technical program.
Looking through the conference offerings - which ranged from design for manufacturing (DFM), networks on chip (NoCs), wireless sensor networks (a particular favorite of the Europeans), embedded systems, reconfigurable computing, and automotive electronics, to timing and noise analysis, on-chip power and leakage reduction, design verification, defect modeling, and nanotechnology, to mention a few - Georges Gielen and his committee, including Program Chair Donatella Sciuto, Professor at the Politecnico di Milano, could be justly proud of the depth and breadth of the DATE 2006 program.
It was not possible to attend everything - in fact, a number of attendees lamented that they could not be at more than one session at a time, and ended up having to choose between multiple, simultaneous offerings that all promised excellent content. This is not a problem unique to DATE, but a problem always associated with a conference of this size. Many highly informative sessions must run concurrently to present everything within 3 or 4 days. What follows are only a few of the highlights of my days at DATE 2006:
The keynote address
delivered on Tuesday morning at DATE by Dr. Wally Rhines, Chairman and CEO at Mentor Graphics and Chair of the EDA Consortium (EDAC) was nothing short of a magnus opus
. Rhines simply said it all - simply.
With the best slides I've ever seen, Rhines laid out the reality of the EDA landscape today - the types of companies, the economics of large companies versus small, the financial and technical impact of the innovation/acquisition cycle within EDA, how capital flows in and about the EDA ecosystem, how the tools are purchased and incorporated into the design flow, how the distribution of design starts between gate arrays, cell-based ICs, ASSPs, and FPGAs has varied over the last decade, and how the process technologies have evolved over the last 15 years.
Then, he illustrated the CAD tool purchase-and-use ecosystem structure within a company, and how the tensions are arrayed between software and hardware designers, system architects and chip designers, analog and digital designers, and designers and manufacturers. (see Saving the Best for Last below.) That complete, he graphically illustrated how EDA bridges all of these paradigms and eases the tensions therein. Now that last may have been more about the idealized EDA than the gritty reality, but the clarity of Rhines' presentation excused what might have been perceived as a simplification.
His keynote was simply great, and how do I know? Every single subsequent conversation that I heard at DATE referenced back to Rhines' talk on Tuesday morning. It was that simple, and it could not have been a better intro to everything that followed at DATE, particularly if you're interested in EDA.
** Tuesday morning, after the opening ceremonies and keynotes, Dataquest's Gary Smith moderated a panel that addressed "economic and strategic decision making for system design." Panelists included executives from Toshiba, Actel, Cisco, Tensilica, MathWorks, and Cadence. The group had some pretty snappy slides, and worked together well to provide a nice overview of the situation in ESL.
Toshiba's Armin Derpmanns summarized what is perhaps the single biggest issue facing the semiconductor industry today: "How do I incorporate all of the manufacturing and yield issues back up into my design work?" That may sound like a question that belonged on a design for manufacturing panel, but it actually fit well on the ESL panel, as well.
Actel's Dennis Kish enumerated other issues that add to the challenges: time-to-market pressures which abbreviate product-development time, constantly evolving standards which are difficult to track and implement, market demands for additional, sophisticated end-product features, consumer-driven pricing pressures, and the complexities of global suppliers and markets.
Tensilica's Chris Rowen, not surprisingly, said that multi-processor chips can help address these problems, plus alleviate some of the on-chip power problems facing designers today.
Cisco's Massimo Prati said additional solutions of "incredible elegance" include the use of advanced substrates, SIPs, and system-level-centric design philosophies - the actual point of the panel.
MathWork's Jim Tung - Gary Smith called MathWorks one of the hottest companies at the conference - said system-level design offers a plethora of advantages: opportunities for innovation, lowered project risk, better designer productivity, reduced development costs, shorter time to market, better team communication, and increased IP reuse. Gray Smith, the ultimate system-level design evangelist, beamed.
Finally, Cadence's Ted Vucurevich posed the uber-question: "Is semiconductor design improved by ESL?" Ted concluded that the answer is yes, particularly if system-level design is interpreted as platform-based design, with a dollop of model-based design thrown in for good measure.
In addition: Lunch at DATE is an amazingly delicious affair - good food and a choice of red or white wines served up to hundreds of people efficiently and graciously. Unfortunately, Gary Smith and I couldn't locate our meal tickets on Tuesday, and had to scramble to get sustenance with the help of some nice people at the registration desk. Gary ended up with little time to eat in the few minutes that fell between the end of his late morning panel and the start of his early afternoon event. I think if Gary's going to be asked to do 4 panels on a single day, somebody needs to make sure his meal is delivered to him personally - he shouldn't have to go looking.
** On Tuesday afternoon late in the day, competing for audience with the Executive track panel on DFM that included Synopsys CEO Dr. Aart de Geus, and Happy Hour out on the Exhibition Hall floor itself, I moderated a panel in the Exhibition Theater. The topic of the hour was how to balance design trade-offs between project specifications for power, performance, and programmability - the concept of 3D Design. LSI Logic's Mike Casey, CriticalBlue's David Stewart, CoWare's Johannes Stahl, and Ignios' Mark Lippett were the panelists.
As the discussion between the panelists unfolded, additional 'P' words were added to the list, above and beyond Power, Performance and Programmability. They included Platforms, Parallelism, Processors, Partitioning (between the hardware and software portions of a design), Prototyping, Prima Donnas (that would be both analog and digital designers), Pragmatic (reaching realistic design solutions within rational development schedules), Persuasion (important across inter-disciplinary teams), Price (always a concern), and Pain Point (that moment when new tools and/or methodologies are embraced).
The panel was a complex one that touched on numerous orthogonal concerns that need to be addressed in order to achieve successful design. Next time, the topic should be scheduled for earlier in the day.
** For those willing to get up early on Wednesday morning (and there were many), the 8:30 AM technical panel, "DFM/DFY Design for Manufacturability and Yield," was a must-attend event.
In the first 45 minutes, spokesmen from IBM and the Technical University of Munich laid out in quick-paced detail, a list of the usual suspects implicated in today's design-for-manufacturing and design-for-yield conundrums - reduced channel lengths, tiny feature sizes that are poorly served by lithography limitations, random and systematic errors, wafer-to-wafer and die-to-die defects, badly articulated corners, etc. Even at 8:30 in the morning, this was a nice mini-tutorial that set the stage for the second half of the session.
In the second 45 minutes, the German EDA company, MunEDA, detailed their WiCKeD tool, followed by a spokesman from Infineon endorsing the tool. Their presentations were interesting, and it was easy to spot a number of certified DFM experts in the audience listening attentively. It was also easy to wonder what those certified experts were thinking about the tool, and the larger DFM and DFY issues mentioned over the course of the session. Above all, it was easy to wonder if the industry will come to a decision anytime soon as to what actually constitutes a complete DFM flow. The 8:30 AM panel, I suspect, was showcasing only one part of that flow.
Nonetheless, I liked these Best-of-Show quotes from the session: "Design and technology together equal yield," and, "Every carelessness at the beginning of the design phase will cost valuable ramp-up time, once that design reaches the manufacturer."
In addition: By Wednesday, mid-day, DATE was in full flow. The Exhibition Hall was packed, people were in over-drive trying to maximize their time at the conference, either through interfacing with potential customers at the booths or by attempting to attend as many panels or sessions as possible over the course of the day. Everybody was rushing here and there.
Luckily, food and espresso machines were ubiquitous at DATE all week long. The Synopsys, Mentor, Cadence, and Magma booths were all espresso-enabled, as were those of many other exhibitors. In addition, booth food everywhere was prolific and delicious. And if activity in the particularly well stocked booths was any indication, the lesson is - where there's food and coffee, the crowds are not far behind.
Additionally, and at the surprisingly early hour of 4 o'clock, there was also beer, wine, punch, pretzels, more finger food and a general joie de vivre across the Exhibition Hall floor, with that energy spilling out into the main lobby of the convention center where additional company booths were located.
The overall "Show Stopper Food and Drink Award" for DATE, however, has to go to Hein and Lisa van der Wildt at the Fenix Design Automation booth. They brought with them to Munich, pounds and pounds of fresh herring on ice, which they actually sliced on the spot into savory bite-sized pieces to serve up to their visitors, along with a bracing shot of schnapps. Excellent and pungent all at the same time, luckily the van der Wildts didn't break out the herring until late afternoon each day. The powerful aroma of fresh-sliced herring is not everybody's cup of espresso.
** The lunchtime keynote on Wednesday was delivered with a distinctly American flair - just the facts, Ma'am - by Texas Instruments' Don Shaver. He spoke for a long, technical hour about TI's roadmap towards an energy-efficient, single-chip 4G wireless solution that would run on a paltry 100mW of power, include advanced RF and digital features in a minimalists 10-million gate design, and be built on low-cost CMOS technology and therefore saddle up with a price tag not to exceed 10 bucks. Oh yeah, and the chip would be defect free the first time, every time, and beat the competition regularly in the time-to-market marathon.
Shaver said developing the TI 4G solution will take about 5 years, and will require tools like Matlab, languages like SystemC, super-duper cell libraries, synthesis tools, and IP blocks, as well as sophisticated electrical models and development platforms that will probably include advanced FPGAs and maybe even a structured ASIC here and there. Shaver said it's all achievable, because "design frameworks are our competency." Per Shaver's description, it sounded like TI intends to add their 4G roadmap into their long list of successful, happy trails.
In addition: I spent the bulk of Wednesday afternoon meeting with companies, both in their Exhibition Hall booths and in the Press Room. Although this exercise can be a tedious one, and overly burdened with ponderous PowerPoint presentations, somehow the conversations at DATE take on a special validity. I learned a lot from my visits with Advantest, ACE, Apache, AWR, Celoxica, CriticalBlue, Dubai Silicon Oasis, IMEC, Magma, Nascentric, OCP-IP, Tenison, and TransEDA, and only wish that there would have been more time to patrol the show floor, and drop in and visit with the many technologists ready and able to engage in informative conversations.
On the flip side, I'm of the opinion that journalists' best time at conferences is spent attending sessions, not meeting with companies to hear about product releases. As important as getting that exposure may be to the companies, the journalists are rarely focused on the conversation in the booth, and are probably not paying full attention even when they look like they're fully engaged.
** At the end of the day on Wednesday, people's spirits were starting to drag. Just downing (yet) another shot of espresso couldn't take the edge off the jet lag that had set in for many at that point in the conference. However, those of us who consider ourselves to be conference warriors are not easily defeated. And it was in that mode, that I lasted through 45 minutes of the 4:30 PM panel on nanotechnology in one of the conference room upstairs in the ICM conference complex.
Interesting stuff, that nanotechnology, and these series of panel presentations were no exception. But quantum dots and negative bias temperature instability are the stuff of late-morning physics lectures, not late-afternoon conference panels as the sky is growing dark outside. When I realized my attention span had reached a length comparable to the distance between dopant atoms in a silicon lattice, I decided to excuse myself from the session and attempt to revive in time for the EDAC industry reception that was starting just 45 minutes later.
In addition: By that time, late Wednesday afternoon, the snow had started to fall again in Munich. The skies were darkening, the temperature was dropping, and the folks from the EDA Consortium had just the right antidote. The event they hosted for consortium members at the conference center was great, full of wonderful food and beverages, and lots of good friends enjoying the ambience and the fact that most of their obligations for the week were nearly fulfilled, whether that was presenting keynotes, appearing on, or moderating panels, interfacing with customers, or just getting to Munich at all in the face of the rather epic weather conditions.
** First thing Thursday morning, there was another "early riser" special - a panel of experts from Improv Systems, STMicroelectronics, Philips, Cadence, Synopsys, and Mentor talked about "industrially proving" the SPIRIT consortium standards for design chain integration. SPIRIT is, of course, the 2-year old standards body supported by these companies, and others, which is attempting to develop a standardized wrapper for IP that will enable "machine integration" of said IP into the larger design.
The speakers on Thursday morning went into fairly exhaustive detail explaining how these particular players partner with each other - the pairing up being between an EDA provider and an IP provider or supplier - to produce IP wrappers within the SPIRIT specifications.
Philips had the most to say, which is perhaps not surprising. The bulk of the IP they were "wrapping" in their example was internally generated and being reused on other Philips projects. Even so, there is a great deal of anticipation about SPIRIT - and a great number of questions. Will the use of these standardized wrappers cause further lock-in between EDA vendors and their customers? Or is that perception erroneous? Will SPIRIT-designated wrappers, in fact, facilitate IP reuse and enable a larger market for third-party vendors?
The SPIRIT consortium already has a set of answers to these questions. Others may disagree with their responses, but the consortium should be congratulated nonetheless on having moved the conversation, and the options for the industry, forward. It's a daunting task, and clearly there is much more work to be done.
** Gary Smith echoed the morning's SPIRIT consortium panel, with a highly over-populated Standards Panel on Thursday afternoon that contained no less than seven men representing seven different standards bodies: SPIRIT's Ralph Ralph von Vignau, OSCI's Frank Ghenassia, SPRINT's Pieter van der Wolf, Accellera's Dennis Brophy, Nokia's Ian Oliver, DASC & SPIRIT's Victor Berman, and Si2's Steve Schulz. It was a very knowledgeable group, but they barely fit at the panelists' table on the stage in the Exhibition Theater.
Smith, faced with the daunting task of giving each of these Standards Giants equal time, decided to befuddle them all by projecting a recent photo of his newborn son sporting John Cooley-like overalls. It wasn't clear that everyone in the audience knew exactly who John Cooley was, but Smith's slide set a whimsical tone for the 60-minute panel that would have been more productive as an 8-hour closed-door meeting with just these seven men, smoking cigars and setting visionary goals and roadmaps for the larger standards world to follow. They need to talk to each other far more than they need to showcase their confusing identities to a conference audience from a cramped and crowded stage.
I left the panel at the half-hour to run upstairs and catch the Wednesday lunchtime keynote, enigmatically scheduled at the same time, and therefore could only jot down a single utterance from each Standards panelist before my departure.
Ralph said OSCI and SPIRIT have grown closer to Si2. Frank said OSCI and SPIRIT are
enabling customers to standardize their interfaces. Pieter said the SPRINT Project wants to address the problems of IP reuse. Dennis said SystemVerilog has great potential. Ian said there are as many UMLs as there are applications, but no standards and nothing in the UML world fits together. Victor said SystemVerilog, SystemC, and SPIRIT constitute the flow today. Steve said methodology should be the priority in product development.
It was abundantly clear that these seven men admire World Peace, and each other - not necessarily in that order - and I left the session assured that the march towards industry standards continues on in good hands.
** The Hogthrob Project was described by Phillipe Bonnet from Copenhagen University in the Thursday lunchtime keynote. According to Bonnet's statistics, there are 5 million people in Denmark and 25 million pigs. Keeping track of all those pigs - their eating habits and general health - is a task that's best assigned to wireless sensors, according to half the pig farmers in Denmark.
Half of the pigs in the country are currently tagged with digital sensors attached to their ears. Bonnet's group is looking to improve those sensors - lower the cost and power per device, and improve battery life, packaging, and reliability - and thereby enable device usage for a larger share of the pig population in Denmark. It's a complex, albeit amusing, application for wireless sensors; the audience was quite fascinated by the design constraints in this very real-world project with its down-to-earth end users. It was pretty darn interesting.
In addition: Amidst the technical content at DATE, Networks on Chip and Automotive Systems were both important topics. I was not clever enough to schedule my time to hear any of this content, however. Hopefully that's what proceedings are for, so I'm happy the conference CD was included with the conference materials. The content there goes back to 1998.
** Start-ups everywhere, but particularly in EDA, are concerned about two issues: competition from bigger players in the industry and obtaining venture capital to keep the lights on. A Thursday morning panel moderated by Gary Smith (Smith was involved in at least 7 different panels at the conference) touched on both of these start-up concerns.
At the heart of the conversation was the question: Should tools from start-ups command a premium price, or should customers of those start-ups be entitled to deep discounts in exchange for taking a risk on tools and/or companies that are new to the market?
Speaking on behalf of the start-ups, Summit Design CEO Emil Girczyc argued that start-ups should choose their engagements wisely. A customer may not pay full-value for a new tool, but if they provide useful feedback to the start-up vendor, that advice can be extremely valuable.
Jasper Design CEO Kathryn Kranen said staff engineers are frequently very enthused about new tool offerings from start-ups, but their purchasing departments often negotiate a pricing agreement from the start-up vendor in advance of the engineers' evaluations to prevent user enthusiasm from influencing the negotiations. She added that VCs today agonize over the adverse influence that CAD groups, legal departments, and purchasing agents in large customer accounts have over pricing schedules for tools from start-up vendors.
Infineon Technologies' Artur Weller countered on behalf of the large user community. Weller said buying tools from a start-up is a high-risk investment. Customers want innovation, but new entrants cannot expect to demand premium pricing for offerings that come with little testing in the market.
Gary Smith said there are no more than 25 "power users" in the world - companies who have real use for the cutting-edge tools from start-ups in EDA. But, he said, a small start-up can only handle 5 of those power users at any one time, 10 at the most. That limits the number of customers, and the amount of feedback, for any particular tool, which adds to the development costs for the start-up vendor. I believe Smith was alluding to this conclusion: Power users should be willing to pay more, not less, to subsidize new tools if they want innovation from start-ups to continue unabated.
** Lanza TechVenture's Lucio Lanza moderated a Tuesday morning panel in the Exhibition Theater that went head-to-head with the keynote speeches in the main ICM theater. That was unfortunate, because Lucio's topic was an important one: How to grow the EDA industry beyond its current financial boundaries.
I arrived toward the end of the panel, and caught these several comments. Lucio said that tool users in IDMs don't buy the tools; they buy the services of their centralized CAD department. The CAD department buys the tools, for better or worse.
SpiraTech's Simon Calder said that even though CAD departments may negotiate for low prices, the actual users are still willing to pay for quality tools. VC Hansjoerg Sage agreed, and said that if a tool vendor can't get the money they think they deserve for their products, they're not offering solutions to a problem that's important to their customers. Nick Pappas from Adams Harkness said it's simple: Know what your customers need and provide value to them. That certainly sounded easy enough. Aprio's Mike Gianfagna advised small start-ups to raise as little venture capital as possible and to remember to work hard. That also sounded just about right.
Gary Smith referred to a comment made in the earlier hour during Wally Rhines' keynote address. Raising the abstraction level in design is causing explosive growth in design seats and the need for lots of tools. Smith said recent studies from Gartner Dataquest indicate companies are using anywhere from 80 to 130 tools to do system-level design. Most of those tools currently are home grown, so clearly there's an opportunity here for third-party vendors to step in and provide value.
After the panel ended, Lucio continued his spirited argument that the EDA vendors themselves are to blame for the current malaise in their market. He was adamant - the EDA vendors say they are competing, but they're actually not. He said the vendors need to change their business models; as long those vendors are unwilling to put metrics in place to accurately measure the value their tools provide to the customers, the EDA industry will continue to stagnate.
Infinion's Thomas Harm made the ultimate withering comment after the panel, speaking from the point of view of a power user and a big customer of the EDA industry. He said tool vendors should not look at their product offerings as some kind of pension fund that guarantees them income for life. He wasn't joking.
** Wednesday morning, between sessions, I was lucky to have a wide-ranging conversation with Dr. Dian Zhou, Dean of the School of Microelectroncis at Fudan University in Shanghai, a post he holds while on leave from his long-time faculty position at the University of Texas, Dallas. Professor Zhou recently attended the World Economic Forum at Davos, and so our conversation included discussions of technology, university education, student visas, economics, and the concepts of competition.
Zhou argued that people should see the rise of the semiconductor industry in China as a natural consequence of the maturing of the industry. He noted that as the auto industry in the U.S. matured, Japan emerged as a significant competitor and quickly learned to compete with quality products. The U.S. then turned to other industries to explore innovation and reap the financial rewards of being an early entrant in new markets.
He argued that as the semiconductor industry matures, other countries including China will emerge as significant competitors, offering products of increasing quality as the years go by. That's the signal, Zhou says, that yet another new industry will be emerging from the innovative environment and practical, problem-solving mindset of the U.S. engineering community.
** Also interesting, was a brief conversation I had with a representative of the newly emerging Dubai Silicon Oasis. Described as a technology "duty free zone" and industrial park, DSO showcased its offerings from within the Synopsys booth at DATE. Synopsys is a development partner at the Dubai facility - which is currently under construction - and DSO's Sameer Siddiqui courteously answered my several questions about the project.
What are the advantages to semiconductor companies who set up operations there? For starters, there is no personal income tax in Dubai. How is innovation nurtured in a government-owned facility? The government of Dubai will be a completely transparent, hands-off entity with respect to anything that develops at DSO. Are companies who come to DSO locked into using Synopsys tools? Absolutely not. Why would anyone choose to relocate to Dubai? There's lots of engineering talent in the area - from Egypt, India, Pakistan, Jordan - and the housing and business opportunities are plentiful. And, the Dubai government plans to invest $50 billion in the project by 2010.
Surely none of my questions surprised Sameer, particularly in these several weeks when the Dubai Port World controversy continues to be front-page news in the U.S. Only the timing was eerie. I have no proof, but I have to guess it was eerie for the folks at Synopsys and DSO, as well. What odd circumstances, that no one could have predicted.
Clearly, other nations and regions have set up large government-subsidized research centers designed to serve as magnets to high-tech companies - Silicon Glen in Scotland, the new High Tech Center in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The extensive manufacturing facilities in Taiwan, and now in the PRC, have certainly benefited from huge government investments. In an industry as profoundly global as the semiconductor business, having another go-to location for high-tech companies should be a bonus. But these are complex times. Who knows how all of this will play itself out.
** Speaking of global issues, one of the most compelling business-related panels at DATE was in the Exhibition Theater on Thursday afternoon. Synopsys' Rich Goldman moderated a panel that outlined the growing crisis in software piracy around the world.
Georg Hernleben from the Business Software Alliance laid out the grim statistics for the sold-out crowd that gathered around to hear the bad news. In the U.S., 22% of the software is pirated. In the EU, the number is 34%. It's 53% across Asia, exclusive of China, 58% in Africa and the Middle East, 61% in non-EU nations in Europe, and 66% in Latin America. In China, it's a gut-wrenching 90% and in VietNam, it's 90%+. From the standpoint of absolute losses, the U.S. takes the prize at $6.6 billion. Next comes China at $3.6 billion, followed by France at $2.9 billion. Clearly, there's a problem here.
Nonetheless, ARM's Tim Holden said there is a solution, at least for IP providers like ARM, who want to protect their product offerings. He suggested that IP vendors only sell to institutions that have a proven track record of respecting property rights. License keys are important for protection, and most importantly, if there's a risk of piracy with a customer - walk away from the deal.
Cadence's Larry Disenhof has been very involved within the EDA industry, raising awareness of the piracy issue. He told the audience that the under-licensing of EDA tools is the biggest culprit in the situation, but inadvertent under-licensing contributes more to the problem than willful abuse. Disenhof advised the EDA industry to improve their licensing agreements, to make them more straightforward and comprehensible to customers, and to help customers fully understand how the limitations or license-distribution permissions work within in a particular agreement.
MacroVisions's Lynn Sweetwood said the problem is even bigger than the BSA numbers would indicate, but again, it's under-licensing which is precipitating the greatest percentage of lost revenues here. He suggested that "time-bomb" software is a great device that allows both the tool vendors and their customers to know when a license has expired or is being misused. Customers want to try to be honest, he said. They need help and the EDA vendors should provide it. If the EDA industry wants to start shoring up its loses due to piracy, they're gong to have to provide that help. Perhaps then, jokes about the EDA tools you can pick up in Shanghai for $15 or less will cease.
** The Exhibition Theater closed out DATE 2006 with a panel on "Global IC Development Design," hosted by Jim Lipman. That conversation was intensely interesting, as well, but I will leave those ideas as a starting point for my next EDA Weekly. Wherever you are - in Europe, North America, Asia, or points beyond - surely you're as jet-lagged as I am at this hour. It's past midnight here in California, this copy is overdue to Adam Heller at IBSystems, and it's time to wrap this up.
So there you have it - my impressions of some of the conversations at DATE 2006 in snowy Munich, Germany. Of course, the conference was orders of magnitude more informative than this brief narrative would suggest. I know you're not surprised, but I also hope you'll be interested enough to track down the proceedings and look at the content in greater detail if you were unable to attend.
** On Tuesday morning, follow the keynote speeches, Professor Dan Gajski from the University of California, Irvine, delighted the audience again as he did last year, by conducting a survey of the those in the room with regards to their languages, process technologies, and reasons for coming to DATE. As an entertainer, Gajski has no peer - the audience loved him. His numbers were the real entertainment, however.
The poll indicated that 41% of those in the room were from Germany, 30% from other locations in Europe, 20% from North America, and 9% from Asia. They hailed from a variety of industries, felt their most pressing problem is physical design, said they need better tools for timing closure and layout, and insisted that verification is a pain.
Questions that might have added additional color to the survey - Have you ever used pirated software? Are you worried about losing your job to an offshore engineer? Are you are a part of a globally distributed design team? Do you purchase your own design tools? Do you have to go through a CAD department to procure the tools you want? Have you ever worked for a start-up?
It would be interesting to see how the answers to those questions would vary depending on whether you were polling this audience at DATE, versus polling an audience at DAC.
Obviously, Europe is a different place than North America, which is a different place from Japan, which in turn differs greatly from India, China, Armenia, and Brazil. Yet spanning all of these diverse geographies and cultures, is the semiconductor industry - the EDA industry, in particular - and people who are attempting to work together to improve the process of design and manufacturing of the products that drive the 21st century forward.
How that progress is pursued, and with what degree of success, depends on a host of factors, not the least being an ongoing sense of collegiality within the industry.
** Somewhere between the hospitality and opportunities at DATE, and the snow and/or labor problems that confounded travel to DATE, one might see a kind of symbolism with respect to EDA.
The EDA industry is awash in gemütlichkeit and hospitality - great friendships and long-term relationships - and rich in compelling technology. Yet at the same time, the industry is snowbound and riddled with angst, by forces beyond its control, and by business practices and legal disputes within its control, all of which consistently threaten to prevent forward progress.
If the EDA industry wants to move ahead, it needs to accentuate the gemütlichkeit and de-centuate the angst - accentuate the cordiality and de-centuate disturbing business practices that create short-term gains for one company at the cost of long-term diminishment of the industry overall. Yes, squabbling is unavoidable. But as evidenced by the history of Europe over the last 100 years or DATE over the last week, either we're all in this together or everyone loses. This should the biggest take-away from DATE and fully worth the effort to get there - snow or no snow.
Things I liked least at DATE:
* The program - it was confusing and hard to follow.
* People suggesting that they need to choose between DATE and DAC.
* The booths on the outside of the exhibit hall - they seemed vaguely reminiscent of a high-school science fair. Put them inside next time.
Things I liked best at DATE:
* The Exhibition Hall being located so close to the sessions.
* The interactive presentations.
* The showcasing of whimsical real-world applications.
* The University Booth - where the hearts and minds of the future reside!
Saving the best for last:
EDAC Chairman and Mentor Graphics CEO, Wally Rhines gave a highly regarded keynote address on the first morning of the conference. Here are my two favorite slides from that address:
You can find the full EDACafe event calendar here
To read more news, click here
-- Peggy Aycinena, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.
For more discussions, follow this link
- October 09, 2008
Reviewed by 'ashish'
The author has given an excellent description of DATE 2006.
- October 09, 2008
Reviewed by 'Couldn't make it to DATE'
Very useful for those of us who couldn't make it to DATE. And Peggy always has a way of getting to the right people and to the essence of anything she's writing about. More detail than article coverage in some of the magazines, and the actual dialog was good to see. Thanks.
And more from Peggy, please.
- October 09, 2008
Reviewed by 'Joseph BOREL'
Super article giving both the most outstanding messages and presentations and the ambient of the conference.
I particularly appreciated the fact that start ups are considered in this paper because in such large conferences they are often simply ignored.
I would really suggest that some very selected breakthroughs brought by the start ups be highlighted when significant added performance is demonstrated.
I would have lowed to show to Peggy "a fantastic achievement" of EdXact (a new start up demonstrating during the conference, in front of Fenix booth of Hans) that simply adding a "filter" beyond the existing EDA companies extractions tools they were able to reduce the data of a factor of 10 as an average, without changing the simulation accuracy.
A 10X gain in the volume of data is a 10X gain in simulation and verification that terribly decrease the cost of your verification/simulation tasks in the flow that accounts for nearly 30% of he overall cost of a design...transparently to your flow !!!!
I can supply detailed information if needed.