April 24, 2006
Thought Leaders -3 men, 3 minds, 1 industry
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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 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!

And now, we can start doing all kinds of calculations of what attaches to what. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, I read an articles that said for a certain type of breast cancer-by looking at your genomic make-up, doctors can decide if there is any value in doing chemotherapy. That analysis costs about $3000, and any woman would be happy to shell out that money to know whether or not to go through chemotherapy. So, here's the beginning of things coming out of the genomic map that comes directly out of the power of digital technology.

I consider the mapping of the human genome as being on par with the external mapping of the globe. It's an internal map versus an external map, both of them having an immense impact on mankind, particularly when examined from the distance of time.

In practice, obviously digital technology has many other implications that will, hopefully, increasingly affect not just the better-off parts f the world, but the under-served parts as well. Look at the emphasis going on now to build the $100 computer, with the intent to sell them in quantities of a million at a time to governments to give to their children, in the hope that the educational impact will help to address the many other problems in those societies. And it's true that no matter which society, there's a distribution of wealth. But over time, things do trickle down. In that context, technology is not good or bad. It's simply a set of facts.

Q - U.C. Berkeley's Richard Newton speaks about Energy, Epidemics, and Education as being the 3 big E's that technology must address in the 21st century. Is there another E-or is a completely different set of letters a better end game?

Aart de Geus - As with all of these lists, they're only good from a limited perspective. However, I am a strong believer in education as a foundation. Without education, you're stuck in many ways. And education has many forms-the $100 computer is one. But education goes into many other things as well.

Basic health behaviors have an enormous impact on what the future of a nation or society is. And so a guy like Bill Gates might say it's all well and good to think about the computer, but he goes a step before that and looks at disease. Mentioning epidemics is Rich Newton's way of touching on rapidly spreading diseases, and the fact that globalization is a sign of the times. For people in rich countries, epidemics were not so scary in the past because we could keep the bad 'stuff' away. But that's not true in the era of globalization.

Energy is the other fundamental that Rich mentions, and there's no question that with globalization, we'll see an acceleration of the use of fossil fuels. So these two challenges-epidemics and energy-intersect and then have a huge impact on the environment.

Perhaps the Environment should be the fourth 'E.' Although there are still some people who don't seem to recognize, or agree-anyone who has been in the Alps or at the poles knows there is a problem. Having grown up in Switzerland as I did, the glaciers were the ice that never melted. Today, those glaciers have retreated dramatically. There's also been a change in the permafrost and a gradual breaking up of the large ice sheets near the poles.

So these things are tied together. Globalization has brought an additional 700,000,000 people into the middle class, and they would all like to have a car, too. The traditional middle class of both India and China has doubled-although those populations are so large, that even with these changes most people can't even think about having a car.

Still there will be an acceleration of the utilization of fossil fuels, reflected today in the price of oil being about $70 a barrel-a far cry from just four or five years ago. That said, we must use intelligence to change our energy utilization and move to alternative sources of energy, including atomic energy despite its downside of a 10,000-year half-life for the waste products.

Q - Does the EDA industry really need to keep an eye on these profound issues-or is it the industry's job to just provide the tools, and neither control nor attempt to influence how those tools are used?

Aart de Geus - This is fundamentally the same question that folks like Einstein had to deal with when they moved forward on the physics of atomic utilization. And the answer for the n-thousandth year in a row has been-knowledge is fundamentally neutral, but people should not be.

EDA is a set of skills and knowledge. The people that practice EDA happen to be blessed with IQs well over 100. If you have that blessing, with your gift comes the responsibility to use it wisely. People have different ways to evaluate that responsibility-through their philosophy, or personal background, or religion-but I certainly believe that if you have the brains to do something, then have the heart to use it wisely. Science has no heart. But people should not just be brains, but brains and heart together.

Q - What does the EDA industry do about the great conundrum of software piracy?

Aart de Geus - Generically, software piracy is not okay because it's utilization of something that doesn't belong to you, and there are two fundamental responses. The defensive one is to try to put as many mechanisms in place as possible to make it difficult to do. The offensive strategy is to try to create an environment and ambience where it's not okay to copy software, where laws and/or attitudes are in place that say stealing is not a good thing.

But in countries that are emerging, the reality is that piracy is rampant. I have no problem being on record on this. China today lacks staunch enforcement of intellectual protection. But China is on the road to improvements there. Other countries that have emerged over the last 50 years have followed the same track. As they start to build their own intellectual property-a process that helps everyone-the desire to protect intellectual property grows. The reality is that it takes time, and skills, and so on, to do it. But I am absolutely confident that China will get there.

Q - How do we deal with the issue of human rights as China emerges as an important trading partner?

Aart de Geus - I think the best thing to do is to keep it as a topic of discussion in dealing with China, but it is also important to understand that this is a society or country that not that many years ago was completely and utterly totalitarian. Bringing about change is an incredibly difficult thing to do. It's difficult even if you can see the ideals you're moving towards-your history means it will take some time to get there.

The challenge for any country is how to move forward as fast as they possibly can. I can't judge if China is moving as fast as it really could be, but I can be absolutely certain that it will make progress in this area.

Q - How does a young society like North America serve as tutor to an ancient society like China?

Aart de Geus - The sheer conceit of a 200-year-old country acting as tutor to a 4000-year-old society is a little bit bizarre. But I'm not so sure it's pride that gets in the way of the process, or just the fact that you have to walk a mile in someone else's moccasins before you explain to them what they should be doing. The more people know about each other, the less inclined they are to offer an easy recipe for change. It doesn't mean one can't be vocal about one's ideals, but being prescriptive for others has never been a successful strategy for a positive relationship.

Q - What are the most exciting developments in EDA from your perspective?

Aart de Geus - The most exciting and biggest challenge today is that our industry is clearly moving from what used to be many point tools and point capacity, to a very much an optimized solution for the entire chip-what I call a 'tech-onomics' perspective-which now drives speed, area, performance, and so on, but also impacts raw productivity.

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-- Peggy Aycinena, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.


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