February 26, 2007
EDA Rising - Cool, Calm, & Collected
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It was a day like no other day in EDA. If you had 12 non-stop hours to spend at DVCon 2007 and the annual EDAC CEO Forecast event, both in Silicon Valley on February 22nd, I think you would have seen what many others saw over the course of the day and evening. The EDA industry is, at last, showing signs of maturing into adulthood.
Between Richard Goering's lunchtime panel on the emerging power standard(s), John Cooley's eclectic afternoon panel showcasing the noisy (not) show-stopping issues in EDA, and Jay Vleeschower's evening panel of EDAC BigWigs, the message was clear:
The EDA industry can indeed get along, resolve its differences, move forward to contribute even more to the success of the larger semiconductor industry, and finally, finally grow up.
Perhaps it's as simple as the anchor tenant in the industry turning 21.
But for whatever the reason and with the caveat that not all will agree, I would suggest that if the EDA industry can take advantage of this unique moment in time, it's poised to move ahead, to expand into larger markets, and to assume a position of greater influence within the semiconductor industry. Most importantly, it's ready to shed the mantel of martyrdom it has worn so well for these last few years of adolescence. The EDA industry is ready to stop feeling sorry for itself, and ready to start saying to the world - we want to be your partner and share in your both your wins and your losses.
It doesn't get much more adult than that.
EETimes Richard Goering quipped that the panel he moderated at DVCon took the term “power lunch” to its ultimate definition. With 5 panelists from EDA and 1 panelist from the user community (Synopsys' Mike Keating, Mentor's Dennis Brophy, Cadence's Pankaj Mayor, ArchPro's Srikanth Jadcherla, ChipVision's Thomas Blaesi, and LSI Logic's Gary Delp), Goering walked the group through a thorny discussion of the current impasse in the world of power standards, an impasse that Goering himself has documented extensively over the last few months.
There are two standards currently under consideration - the Common Power Format (CPF), championed by Cadence and Si2, and the Unified Power Format (UPF), championed by Mentor, Synopsys, Magma, and Accellera. Accellera released UPF 1.0 on the very day of the Goering DVCon panel. Si2 released CPF 1.0 a number of weeks ago. The Low Power Coalition (LPC) was founded by Si2 and says it's examining both. If you're not a member of LPC, you can't look at a full release of CPF. If you're mad, or like UPF better, you don't want to anyway. If you don't like alphabet soup, you shouldn't even be reading this.
It's a mess, but a temporary mess, because there's too much money and customer goodwill at stake to leave this hanging out there. At least, that's the take-away I garnered from Goering's comment before opening up the mic to the 6 panelists: “Let's not look back, but look forward at what we should do now.”
EDA customer Delp was first up, stated the obvious, and ended with a plea: “Standards must identify and manage tasks, and a single power standard will allow interoperability. So let's avoid alike in every intent, and different in every detail.“ Delp is an active member of LPC, so it's not clear if he's already made up his mind, but I'm guessing he and the user community will have significant influence on the final decision.
The next 3 speakers were EDA guys and all members of LPC - Chip Vision, ArchPro, and Cadence. They all basically said, my company is very special, standards are next to godliness, and may the best man win. Well, actually, Cadence's Mayor said CPF should win: “CPF was developed at Cadence over the last 2 years. We went through extensive user verification. Convergence is of interest to Cadence and we're looking to Si2 to help with that convergence.”
The next 2 EDA guys are not members of LPC, haven't had full access to CPF, and are pretty annoyed. When pressed, they said you have to pay to join LPC and they don't think they should have to 'pay to view' CPF. Cadence offered to take up a collection if the companies were short on cash. Everybody laughed and then Synopsys' Keating said, “UPF and CPF drive the same conceptual model... [so] it will be interesting to see how this plays out.”
Mentor's Brophy pointed out that if the brick & mortar industry can have a single standard for bricks, it's a no-brainer that the EDA industry can have a single standard for power. He said Accellera's already merged 8 of the 9 known power formats into UPF 1.0, so let's get on with the obvious final step and get CPF merged in there as well.
The Magma guy sitting at my table during the panel said to me afterwards, “And don't forget to mention that Magma supports Accellera and UPF.” Done.
So, what do you all think? Impasse or tempest in a teapot? I'd say tempest in teapot, for 2 reasons. Firstly, everybody assured me after the panel that this is going to get resolved, that it's not going to be a repeat of the VHDL/Verilog brouhaha. And secondly, the body language at the EDAC CEO panel Thursday night indicated that the BigWigs in EDA are buds now and nobody's going to wreck that chemistry by allowing the guys swimming down in the alphabet soup to be duking it out for long.
At least for now.
It's not a surprise that great jazz was playing in the background during cocktails at the annual EDAC CEO Forecast Panel held at the Santa Clara TechMart on the evening of February 22nd. After all, Aart de Geus is Chairman of EDAC and an accomplished jazz musician. It was a surprise, however, that the event was on the same evening as DVCon. Any folks who needed to be manning the last hour of the DVCon Exhibit Hall floor over at the DoubleTree in San Jose couldn't be in two places as once. Oh well.
There are 110+ companies in EDAC. Five of them fielded CEOs for the EDAC panel this year including, not surprisingly, Synopsys' Aart de Geus, Cadence's Mike Fister, and Mentor Graphics' Wally Rhines. CoWare's Alan Naumann and Novas' Scott Sandler completed the roster.
Both during cocktails and throughout the panel, it was clear that a new chemistry and maturity have developed within the leadership of EDAC. They're courteous to each other, listening to each other, and clearly committed to the serious business of presenting an intelligent and unified roadmap both to the larger semiconductor industry and to The Street. As I mentioned earlier, it undoubtedly helps that they're all making money, but there's more to it than just that. A new era of steely-eyed calm has clearly arrived. “It's time to get down to the business of business” seems to be the new message du jour from EDAC.
Following a welcome from HP's Norm Reini, Aart de Geus offered opening comments: “EDAC's ambition is to add positive energy around what [the EDA industry] has been trying to accomplish. Bob Gartner is now in place as Executive Director, and our EDAC board meeting today was a very positive one because of the work of the entire team to move things forward. We all want to accomplish things together. Fundamentally this is an intellectual industry and therefore contributions from everyone are essential.”
Asking for a minute of silence to remember the late Dr. Richard Newton , de Geus noted that a number of EDA companies and private individuals, as well as EDAC itself, have teamed up to fund a chair in synthetic biology at U.C. Berkeley in honor of Newton's passion for this emerging technology. In addition, de Geus said, “Richard Newton will be missed as the voice of the Kaufman Award. The award is proceeding nonetheless, and the IEEE Council on EDA, CEDA, has now decided to team up with EDAC as co-sponsor. The award is based on your nominations, so please submit names.”
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-- Peggy Aycinena, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.
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