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Archive for 2012

SAME Forum: Startup Panel showcases promising organizations, ideas

Thursday, October 11th, 2012


Once again this year, SAME Forum in Sophia Antipolis demonstrated what it does best: Bring technologists together in a collegial atmosphere to discuss and debate the latest trends in technology. Always a key part of the agenda, this year’s Startup Panel was even better than the 2011 event because it was held in the several hours before cocktails and the conference dinner.

Moderated by Intel’s Steven Klinger from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on October 2nd, six companies had the opportunity to stand up in front of an SRO crowd of over 100 to describe their ideas, vision, and business plans. At the end of the two hours, a panel of judges met to determine which of the six companies would receive the annual Most Promising Startup Award. In the eyes of many, however, just appearing on the panel was reward enough.

Following the two hours of presentations, the Startup company representatives had a chance to sit and talk one-on-one at tables near the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with those interested in their nascent product offerings. It was an ebullient event full of substantive conversation, start to finish.


M&A: Synopsys acquires EVE

Thursday, October 4th, 2012


Synopsys announced today it has completed the acquisition of EVE, the French emulation company that provides platforms for SoC verification. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

I interviewed Lauro Rizatti, General Manager and Marketing VP for EVE-US, in May of this year. [You can read that interview here.] Given the vigor of the messaging out of EVE at the time, it has come as a surprise to many, but undoubtedly not all, that EVE was acquired this week.

Per today’s Press Release issued by the two companies: “Emulation is a rapidly growing solution in the spectrum of technologies used to verify today’s highly complex SoCs. Integrating EVE’s technology with Synopsys’ best-in-class platform of simulation, debug, verification IP, coverage, static verification, low power verification, FPGA prototyping and virtual prototyping solutions will give Synopsys customers access to the broadest verification offering in the industry.


M&A: Rumor dampens spirits over cocktails

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012


It’s not often that the rumor hits the fan that Synopsys is buying EVE, it’s not often that you’re standing in a cocktail party at a tech conference in the South of France, and it’s not often that these two events happen simultaneously.

When the Synopsys/EVE rumor swept through the cocktail party in Sophia Antipolis on this first evening of the SAME Forum, not surprisingly a lot of people had opinions. This is not just a tech conference, after all, it’s a microelectronics conference with an emphasis on design; EDA is at the center of the conversation.

This is also Europe and at the moment EVE, headquartered in France, is the darling of the EDA ecosystem on the Continent. The company is doing very well, is felt to be holding its own in a series of lawsuits with Mentor Graphics, and is widely admired overall. Needless to say, the reaction over cocktails that EVE may go the way of SpringSoft and Magma was not one of jubilation. Just the opposite, in fact.


Phil Kaufman: At the heart of the matter

Thursday, September 27th, 2012


If you knew Phil Kaufman, you would have known how old he was when he died. Brief details of his life can be found through searching online: His last post was CEO of Quickturn, he died while on a business trip to Japan in July 1992, and the EDA Consortium established the Kaufman Award in his honor the following year.

This information is all readily available, but Phil Kaufman’s age at the time of his death is not so easily found. And why would that information be important?

By all reports, Phil Kaufman died of a heart attack, yet clearly he was fully engaged in his career at the time, which indicates his sudden death came as a shock to his family and colleagues. Did he know he had a problem? Did he have a history of cardiac disease? Was he being tracked by a doctor? Was the stress of the job just too much for someone whose health was compromised? I didn’t know Phil Kaufman, so I don’t know the answers to any of these questions.


EDA: where iPhone 5 electronics begin

Thursday, September 20th, 2012


This week the iPhone 5 goes viral as millions queue up to buy the latest and greatest from Apple. No small amount of ink has been spilled in the period leading up to the September 21st release detailing  everything known [and/or presumed] about the product:

The supply chain [sophisticated & complex], the package [thinner], the screen size [bigger], the connector size [smaller & backwards incompatible], the case [which providers have accurately predicted the form factor], the manufacturing [more distributed], the apps [kludgey Maps], the business implications [a possible uptick in the U.S. GDP based on sales volume], the marketing [a juggernaut], and of course, the A6 processor [a precedent setter].

What’s not heard amidst any of these billions of word about the iPhone 5 is which EDA tools were used by the Apple team to design the chip(s) at the heart of the thing.


Carbon Design Systems: a strategic investment from Samsung

Thursday, September 13th, 2012


Samsung Venture Investment Corp. has just put $4 million into Carbon Design Systems in conjunction with the debut of a new strategic partnership between the two companies.

Per the September 12th Press Release: “Funds from the strategic investment will be used as working capital and will support Carbon’s ongoing development of leading tools in the ESL design space, including its fast, accurate virtual prototypes. Initiatives will be undertaken to expand the reach of Carbon’s fast, accurate virtual prototypes.”

I spoke with Bill Neifert, Carbon’s founder, CTO and VP of Business Development on the day of the announcement. He was amazingly relaxed, a clear indication that the Samsung-Carbon partnership is a logical outcome of a long-term relationship between the organizations:

“Samsung been a heavy user of our tools for quite some time, and has been looking for ways to take even more advantage of that situation – to speed up product introductions, something that everyone’s trying to do in that marketplace.

“Today’s announcement is part of a Samsung initiative to advance their SoC design methodologies. They have both the resources and expertise today to innovate and are looking to us to help them with that. This is also a nice partnership for us, of course. It will help us share our methodology in a broader fashion.”

I asked if Samsung’s investment will jettison Carbon into an even better market position.

Bill said, “Yes, but this is a true partnership. It’s not just about money for Carbon, but about having additional access to Samsung’s time, expertise, and technology. Samsung wants to make better products, and enhancing our technology will also expand their customer base.”


Oski Technology: 72-hour Live Verification Challenge

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012


This is a great story: Oski Technology decided to prove the validity and efficiency of Formal Verification, and proposed a public challenge for themselves at DAC – a 72-hour window of time in San Francisco whereby they would attack a design problem never before seen, analyze it, propose a verification plan, and execute on that plan between 5 pm on DAC Sunday and 5 pm on DAC Wednesday.

To get a design problem, Oski Technology put out a request for proposal to different companies. The design could be at any stage in development, but had to include the RTL and some level of specifications for what the architecture should do, as well as some simulations.

Among the 5 respondents, Nvidia’s suggested problem was the most appropriate: It was a design that was still not complete and needed verification. More importantly, Nvidia was not afraid to have possible bugs or flaws in the design made public, a sign of their own confidence. So at 5 pm on Sunday, June 3rd, the Oski Technology team opened the files provided by Nvidia.

I’ll let Vigyan Singhal, Oski Technology’s President and CEO, take the story from there in his own words. Vigyan and I spoke by phone on September 12th, the same day a 6-minute video of the whole process was made available by the company. [Here’s the link on YouTube.]


The challenge …

Per Vigyan Singhal: “We had gotten the design in advance from the verification manager at Nvidia, but couldn’t even look at the documentation until 5 pm on Sunday, let alone the RTL files. Then after we opened everything, we looked at the code and the design specifications and went from there.

“Initially during the first night and the next morning, we were mostly doing planning. As we learned more about the design, as is usual with this type of thing, we found some unexpected things. Some of the sub-modules were missing from the design. Nvidia had given us the simulation waves, however, so we could guess the functionality and from there wrote Verilog for those little modules.


Valin strategy: Invest in employees & counter-cyclical industries

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012


There are thousands of companies based in Silicon Valley, but not all of them focus on the long-term play. Valin Corp. does have that focus, however, intentionally balancing their product portfolio across a range of industries, and investing in their employees with equal intensity.

Company President & CEO Joe Nettemeyer told me in a recent phone call that this strategy has allowed Valin to grow non-stop over the last half-decade: “We’ve achieved growth through a combination of internal development and acquisition, averaging 20-percent growth or more, per year, over the last 5 years, even in spite of a slight hiccup in 2009. We like to invest in industries that are counter-cyclical to each other. When there’s a slow-down in one area, we can cover the slack with revenue in another.

“We’re an infrastructure company working in the wafer-fab-equipment end of the semiconductor industry, designing and building system solutions for companies around the world that make semiconductor-based products. We just completed a project with AKT that makes equipment for large flat-screen panels to retrofit 30 systems for Samsung.

“We’ve also expanded our capabilities in other industries over the years, particularly as a strategic global distributor for Applied Materials. We’re recognized as one of the top 40 industrial distributors in the nation based on our sales revenue, and have just been recognized as one of INC Magazine’s 500/5000 fastest growing companies in America.


Autumn Destinations: a sampling of upcoming conferences

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012


As Labor Day Weekend comes to a close, summer is officially over. Now it’s time to look out across the next 4 months and figure out how you’re going to spend your conference travel budget. Here’s just a small sampling of the many excellent options available to you.


* IMAPS: International Symposium on Microelectronics
September 9-13
San Diego Convention Center

* CICC: Custom Integrated Circuits Conference
September 9-12
Double Tree Hotel, San Jose

* HPEC: High Performance Extreme Computing Conference
September 10-12
Westin Hotel, Waltham

* IDC: Intel Developers Conference
September 11-13
Moscone Center, San Francisco

* Design East: The Center of the Engineering Universe
September 17-20
Hynes Center, Boston


Patent Law 103: Litigation a way of life in EDA

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012


There are at least 4 ways to learn about Patent Law:

1) Go to law school.

2) Follow the ginormously expensive shoot-out between Samsung & Apple.

3) Read my articles on Patent Law.

* Patent Law 101: Patent Prosecution
* Patent Law 102: Patent Litigation

4) Read recent Press Releases out of EDA.

* Mentor Graphics announces filing of suit against EVE for patent infringement
* EVE Will Continue to Defend Itself Against Mentor Graphics’ Patent Infringement Suits
* Sidense wins patent infringement case against Kilopass
* Kilopass Plans to Appeal the Summary Judgment Ruling in its Patent Infringement Case Against Sidense

Clearly options 1 & 2 would take way too much time, so let’s go with a combo of options 3 and 4: First revisit several highlights of my articles on Patent Law, and then review the recent press releases regarding EDA-related litigations.


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