[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
August 04, 2003
A Delicate Balance
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.
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!

Kathryn Kranen and Karen Bartleson have several things in common. Both of these women are electrical engineers by training and both have successfully pursued management roles in the EDA industry. Kranen is President and CEO of Jasper Design Automation, Inc. and Bartleson is Director for Interoperability and Quality at Synopsys, Inc.

Kranen and Bartleson have something else in common, as well. They were both in attendance at the DAC 2003 Workshop for Women in Design Automation in Anaheim, and they both took singular issue with a comment made by Cadence Design Systems Executive Vice President and CMO Penny Herscher during her keynote address.

Herscher noted that, in her opinion, it's impossible to have what is commonly known as “balance” between one's personal life and one's professional life if one intends to aggressively pursue upward mobility within the corporate chain of command. Herscher was unequivocal in her observations on the topic and left no doubt in anyone's mind that her own personal experience contributed heavily to her conclusions.

Herscher may or may not have been surprised, then, to learn that both Kranen and Bartleson disagreed with her thesis as stated that afternoon in Anaheim, and continue to disagree with her today. Both Kranen and Bartleson maintain that, in fact, many of the women in Herscher's audience in Anaheim disagreed with her and subsequently shared their concerns with Kranen and Bartleson in various conversations at DAC immediately following the workshop.

Hence, by way of laying out an opposing viewpoint to Herscher's, I was invited to listen in on a 2-way conversation between Kranen and Bartleson on July 16th and to report on their co-mingled theories about how it is possible for a successful corporate player - male or female - to achieve balance around family life, professional accomplishment, personal satisfaction, and physical well-being. Both women insisted during their hour-long dialog that, although they have nothing but the highest regard for Herscher, on this particular topic they respectively and strenuously disagree with her conclusions.

Kranen: “I came to the Workshop specifically to hear my friend, Penny, speak. But for the next two days, one woman after another asked me, 'Is that really true? Do you have to decide to make your family second?' People were actually teary eyed in talking to me at such a sad prospect [facing] women.”

“Well, I disagree with Penny. Maybe I'm in denial, maybe my situation is different. Although, one thing I do admire about Penny - her life is more than just being CEO at Simplex or having a big-profile job at Cadence. It's about advancing the cause of equality between men and women.”

“We had an interesting debate about this back in 1993 and 1994 when I was at Quickturn. I was VP of Sales for the company, and the San Jose Mercury News called and asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed because [at the time] I was the second-highest paid woman in Silicon Valley. I was earning about $450,000 in those high-salary years.”

“The article that came out about me said something like, 'Kathryn Moore' - Moore was my maiden name - 'never expected to be treated any differently than a man and she never has been. But Ms. Moore, as second-highest paid woman in Silicon Valley, only made $480,000 last year. She's in denial about the inequality being shown her.' The point of the story was that I wasn't earning anything close to what the second-highest paid man in the Valley was earning [and didn't seem to notice].”

“At the time, Penny said to me, 'Kathryn, you're doing a disservice to women. You're dominant, technical, strong, and you blend into a men's management team. But to pretend that we're all treated equally is just bogus.'”

“Now I know that I was naïve in 1993. Now I know it's just nice idealism to think that as a woman in the workplace, you can ignore the differences [between men and women] and that you'll be recognized for your merit. But my situation today is different, nonetheless, from Penny's when she was [CEO] at Simplex. Today I'm doing my job for the pride of accomplishment. I'm doing something big, making good money, and having fun. But, I'm not doing it for a cause. I'm not like Penny. I'm setting a good example [for other women], but other than that, it's not important to me to invest my time and energy [in mentoring women].”

“I come to work every day at 9, work until 6, and try to be home by 6:30. I have hired someone to cook - although, maybe one day a week I cook - so that when I arrive home we can all sit down immediately and eat together as a family. That's the time that I transition my brain [from being a CEO to being a mom]. For me, eating is a fabulous transition. I talk with Kevin [Kranen] and share ideas - my husband contributes so much to my life - and 20 minutes later we're playing with the children [ages 2 and 5]. We play, do bedtime stories, and put the children to bed.”

“At 9 PM, the phone starts ringing and then I'm working until 1 PM every night. I'm definitely putting in my 60 hours each week, putting in my time. I work 'til exhaustion sets in and I'm usually pretty groggy [as a result] in the morning. People know not to call me, however, from 6 PM to 9 PM, and not to call before 7 AM. Meanwhile, I know when each one of my people is working. I know who I can call late, who I can call early. In a big company, this [sort of flexibility] just isn't possible. It's not possible to have this kind of sensitivity, knowing who has young families, customizing the business around specific family needs.”

“Ultimately, however, I don't believe it's about whether it's a small company, a big company, or a start-up. It's about a company recognizing that it's about asking a family to sacrifice. My husband has been at Synopsys for 14 years and I applaud them [for their commitment to the families of their employees]. I think they set a good example for the industry.”

“When [our son] Kyle was 2 or 3 years old, we would bring him to the Family Fair at Synopsys that they had in the parking lot every summer. [Because of that], Kyle thought that Daddy worked with Elmo and Winnie the Pooh. It took him a long time to figure out that Elmo doesn't work with Daddy.”

Bartleson: “I think it's really interesting to hear how my life and lifestyle parallels Kathryn's. I have the same characteristics, goals, and patterns. At one time, I also explored doing the start-up thing, but I decided it didn't fit my personality. I decided I wanted to be sure that my employer paid the bills and kept the lights on. And I didn't want to fall back into working 7 days a week.”

“Working at big companies has allowed me to guarantee balance in my life. I really appreciate that Synopsys is supportive of my family and our personal lives. In return, it make me more dedicated as an employee. Chi-Foon Chan and Aart de Geus, and all the other executives at Synopsys, have this attitude and it permeates throughout the whole company. Aart de Geus has made the choice to have family balance in his life and that has impacted all of Synopsys.”

“When I decided to have a family, I made the conscious decision to put the children first, as the most important [thing in my life]. I knew that I didn't have the discipline to work late and work weekends, like Kathryn does. So I don't work weekends, unless there's an emergency. I don't miss birthdays, or band concerts, or any other important events. My husband and I have a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old, and we eat dinner together every night. That's always been an important time for us.”

“I gave up things like hobbies a long time ago and [learned] to design my hobbies around things that I had to do anyway. So I do gourmet cooking every night. I make something really cool and am able to combine my outside interest [in cooking] with my [obligation to the] family. I also exercise every day and I follow a nutrition program. If I didn't, I would die. I hold that exercise as sacred, as well.”

“When our kids were 9 and 10-years-old, I also taught them to do their own laundry. I haven't done their laundry since. I'm pretty sure this is an important life skill that will be great for them, especially when they get to college.”

“Meanwhile, I don't socialize too much at the office. I don't go out to lunch and I try to be incredibly productive during the workday. Then at the end of the day, there is that separation [between work and home]. My husband works for HP, so we don't talk about work. Although if one of us is upset, occasionally we do. But [at the end of the day], both of us have had enough of computers, semiconductors, etc.”

Kranen: “I like that. You set topic boundaries, I set time boundaries. I have wireless Internet at home, so every night I'm on the phone or sitting in bed with my laptop working on-line [well past the time when the rest of the household is asleep]. But Kevin and I do talk about work often. It's so helpful.”

“Kevin will tell you that [when I was a stay-at home mom], I got really excited about landscape design, decorating the house, paint colors. He'd come home from work and I'd say, 'Guess what! Kyle pooped eight times today!' Now at the end of the day, I say, 'Guess what! We had this great idea at work today!' I want to share my challenges with him. It's what connects us.”

“Tuesday night is our weekly date night, but sometimes he has to bring food to my office instead. It violates our sacred date night to be at work, but I think it makes me more interesting to him.”

Bartleson: “I agree. Having my husband in the same industry has been unbelievably wonderful. We have total understanding of what each of us does for a living. One night he's slamming down pans [after a frustrating day], and [the next night] I am. We are each other's support center.

Kranen: “Kevin will actually point things out to me [that I might not have seen]. He helps me to understand things [from a man's perspective], but it's a learned trait to know how to drop [conversation about work], how to turn it off.”

“When I was at Quickturn and a VP, I was a single woman. For the most part, I had a life that was just consumed with work, and few friends except my buddy, Kevin Kranen. Through the course of various events, some out-of-town friends gave me some advice. They said, 'We love you, but you really should have some friends in California.'”

“They came out to visit me and said, 'Why don't we meet some of your friends.' But my local friends already had plans. I learned then, that you have to make a concerted effort to connect with old friends. You can't call people on a Saturday afternoon at 3 o'clock and see if they already have plans. Because they do.”

“It's the same with play dates with other families. The advice I give to women's groups - on those [rare] occasions when I'm a speaker - even if you have to take an entire hour mid-week to plan something special for the upcoming weekend with family or friends, take that hour! Set up the weekend in advance, so that when [Saturday] comes, you're really escaping from work”

“Once I stopped working every weekend [even before I had children], and started using my Wednesdays to set up my weekends, I was stunned and appalled to find out that my entire organization did better. They had been suffering under the oppressive weight of my 24x7 thinking about work. It was humbling to find out [that I was a problem in the organization], before I learned out how to have balance in my life.”

“Moshe Gavrielov at Verisity and his wife have taught me so much about [balance and family]. My greatest joys are at home now. I've rescheduled my board meetings to attend meetings at the nursery school, and I plan way ahead to control meeting times, presentations, to control events. I've even learned to go to the bathroom before I leave the office, so that when I come in the door I can give [full attention] to the kids [because they're all over me as soon as I walk in].”

“However, I don't want to sound like I'm up in the clouds or arrogant. I recognize that many women work all hours, don't have nannies, or someone to cook. I would say that I've been very lucky with my support system, and I take my hat off to the men and women who do all of this without big salaries.”

Bartleson: “[In the end], we have to force ourselves to make that balance. We have to commit ourselves to having broader access [to life] than just work, to having a very disciplined approach. We will have a date night. We will honor commitments to our families. We will be able to say, 'I did balance things!'”

“So, I disagree with Penny. Penny's choices have been very good for her and for women [in general]. But we have to look to what's good for us as individuals. I look at some of the [legendary] leaders at TI who gave up their families consciously [for their work]. How many people actually want to say at the end of their lives, 'I didn't work enough hours.'”

(Editor's Note: Thanks to Kathryn Kranen and Karen Bartleson for their time and candor. Thanks, as well, to Francine Bacchini of ThinkBold Corporate Communications who arranged this conversation. At the end of the hour, Francine said to all of us, “Both Kathryn and Karen have chosen partners very wisely. The thing that I see in all of this is that having the right partner makes all the difference. The ultimate lesson should be for men or women - Choose the correct helpmate in life!”)

Industry news - Tools and IP

Agilent Technologies Inc. announced that NEC Compound Semiconductor Devices Ltd. has selected Agilent's RF and mixed-signal design software tools as its new standard for mobile communications RFIC development. Agilent says its RF Design Environment (RFDE) provides NEC designers with “efficient circuit simulation and system design.”

Altair Engineering and Ansoft Corp. announced that Altair's HarnessLink wiring harness and system design tools will be fully integrated with Ansoft's SIMPLORER simulation software. The companies says that the integration of HarnessLink and SIMPLORER will provide automotive, aerospace and, marine manufacturers a complete design environment for electrical distribution systems - “the combined solution allows engineers to size and validate a vehicle electric system and to identify design trade-offs by performing what-if studies in rapid succession.”

Cadence Design Systems, Inc. and Global UniChip Corp. have jointly announced that Global (Unichip) has selected the Cadence Encounter Digital IC implementation platform as Unichip's hierarchical IC implementation platform. The companies says that “this equips Unichip with the capabilities it needs to address nanometer design challenges in its customer design services - specifically, virtual prototyping, routing, signal integrity (SI) and timing closure issues. Cadence and Unichip teamed up on a methodology project to build this advanced tape-out flow.”

Dolphin Technology, Inc. and Legend Design Technology, Inc. announced that Legend's CharFlo-Memory! product now offers instance characterization and verification for Dolphin's memory compilers. The companies say that CharFlo-Memory! is based on layout-extracted circuits with resistors and capacitors and permits users of Dolphin memory compilers to automatically generate on-chip memory instance models at any process technology corner.

Mentor Graphics Corp. announced the TeamPCB design collaboration tool for implementing and managing team design processes in a manner that the company says is easier and more effective “than previously possible.” The tool includes an automated design process, which manages and synchronizes layout design data and allows multiple PCB designers to work on the same PCB layout simultaneously. It is compatible with the Mentor Graphics Expedition PCB, Board Station RE, and SFX RE layout tools.

The Press Release says, “For PCB designs that are too large or complex for a single person or team to complete in the desired time frame and for PCBs with multiple technologies requiring specialized design teams, TeamPCB allows companies to effectively utilize design resources across geographically or functionally dispersed PCB design groups to dramatically reduce overall design cycles.”

Oak Technology, Inc. and Accelerated Technology, the embedded systems division of Mentor Graphics, announced that Oak's Quatro SoC reference designs support Accelerated Technology's Nucleus PLUS real-time kernel. The companies say that Oak selected Nucleus PLUS as a supported operating system for its Quatro SoC reference designs because it is a “robust and compact operating system.”

Synopsys, Inc. announced that Renesas Technology Corp., a joint venture between Hitachi, Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp., standardized on Synopsys' Astro physical implementation solution to tape out multiple chips for audio-visual, mobile phone, and office automation products. The chips contained upwards of 5-million gates with a system clock speed of 400 MHz and were implemented in Renesas' 150-nanometer silicon process. The companies report that Astro permitted Renesas to achieve an average of 30% reduction in turnaround time and has become part of Renesas' standard ASIC SoC design flow.

Verplex has announced the release of Conformal 4.0 that “enables SoC designers and verification engineers to deliver functional bug-free silicon.” Conformal 4.0 includes enhancements to Conformal Logic Equivalence Checker (LEC) and integrates new Conformal family products. Cadence Design Systems has recently announced this it will be acquiring Verplex.


Atrenta Inc. announced the appointment of Jonathan Spira as CFO. Spira brings 20 years of corporate finance experience in the consumer, entertainment, and technology markets to his new role at Atrenta. Ajoy Bose, Atrenta Chairman, President and CEO, said, “He is a top-notch executive who brings to us the financial know-how and corporate experience to grow the company through its pre-IPO stage and beyond.” Prior to Atrenta, Spira served as CFO of ePeople and Autonomy, was director of business planning and finance for the Disney Interactive division of the Walt Disney Co., director of strategic planning and finance for California Pizza Kitchen, a senior financial analyst
for Nestle
Food Co., and a consultant in KPMG Peat Marwick's Merger & Acquisition group. He has an MBA from Cornell University and a BA in Economics from Kenyon College.

Intellitech Corp. announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark office has awarded the company a patent for its 1149.1-based test and configuration technology. The company says the patent is a broad patent in the area of efficiently accessing circuits for test and configuration. The patent is U.S. Patent number 6,594,802 entitled “Method and Apparatus for optimized access to circuits for debug, programming and test.” Asian and European patents are still pending.

LogicVision, Inc. announced the appointment of Ronald Mabry as Vice President for Marketing and Business Development. He will report to LogicVision President and CEO Vinod Agarwal. The company say, “Mabry comes to LogicVision with nearly 25 years of senior-level management experience in marketing, sales and business development in the
United States and in the Asia Pacific region. He most recently served as vice president, sales and marketing for PACT XPP Technologies, a leader in reconfigurable processing technology. Mabry previously worked for eChips, Bell Microproducts, Western Micro Technology, Avnet, Inc., and Cronin Electronics.”

Mentor Graphics Corp. announced that Plextek has joined its FPGA Advantage Solutions Thrust (FAST) Partner Program. The companies says that, as a result of joining the program, Plextek will receive access to the Mentor Graphics' FPGA Advantage tool suite, and that Plextek will have access to FPGA design methodologies, training, and certifications from Mentor Consulting, the professional services division of Mentor Graphics.

Also from Mentor Graphics - The company says it has selected Memec Design to distribute a selection of its Inventra IP portfolio for use in “FPGA silicon.” Memec Design, which is the engineering division of the Memec Group, will provide customization and integration services for Inventra IP. Mentor Graphics says it selected Memec Design due to “its reputation and expertise as a leading distributor of FPGA technologies, its infrastructure to support the IP needs of FPGA designers, and its global presence.”

Monterey Design Systems says that it has received $10 million in new equity funding. The company says the proceeds will be used to finance the company's growth in supplying the rapidly expanding market for silicon virtual prototyping tools.

Pulsic Ltd. announced the appointment of Ken Roberts as CEO. The company announced that now, Founder and Acting CEO Mark Williams will move into the role of COO. Roberts has extensive experience in EDA having worked most recently at Magma Design Automation, Inc. where he was Vice President and General Manager Europe. Prior to Magma, Roberts was with Quickturn Design Systems, worked at Cadence Design Systems, Daisy Systems, and Marconi Space and Defense. He has an M.Sc in Microelectronics from Southampton & Brunel Universities, a diploma in Microprocessor Design from Bristol University, and a B.Sc in Physics from Manchester University.

In the category of...

Letter to the Editor - Objecting to objects

I read your recent column about your conversation with Mark Jones with great interest.

While Mr. Jones' intentions are well founded and appropriate - after all, who doesn't want an integrated paradigm for the whole design chain that increases our level of abstraction of the problem - unfortunately, his solution is naive. His touting the success of object-oriented design in the software industry shows that Mr. Jones misunderstands both the problem and what the solution should look like.

From the perspective of many experienced engineers, the Microsoft Foundation Libraries, built on object-oriented technology, is one of the most spectacular engineering failures of the technology era. This abysmal piece of engineering does not detract from Microsoft's unrivalled genius in marketing and the amazing commercial success they have earned as a result. However, the success of their products is in spite of the poor engineering underlying the products, not because of it.

The object-oriented approach is indeed incredibly wasteful of processor and memory resources, to an extent that really should have stopped its widespread use. The result is that today's desktop computers - with more than three orders of magnitude better processing power than their predecessors - are no faster at running normal applications than their predecessors, despite their incredible advantage in hardware speed.

Where did all the extra hardware horsepower go? [It went] to accomplishing the total abstraction of the software design problem from the hardware it was to run on. I can understand why this approach would be extremely appealing to a physicist or a mathematician, both of whom value the simplicity of an abstraction above all else. And while I also subscribe to the ideas encompassed in Occam's Razor - in contrast to mathematics, product cost must be a factor in engineering and in this case, the cost is out of scale to the resulting gains.

An old and simple example is the use of Assembly Language versus higher-level languages for coding. It may surprise many younger engineers that at one time, this was a hotly debated topic. Higher-level language compilers, regardless of the language and technology, trade an increased ability to abstract a problem for loss of efficiency in the executable code and growth of the executable code image.

Initially, the penalty imposed was approximately three-fold, although now it is reduced to only about 25%. Though people argued about whether the earlier three-fold loss of efficiency was worth it - and many religious arguments ensued with zealots on both sides - most sober, forward-looking engineers realized that the cost was indeed well worth it and the penalty would decrease with improved compiler technologies.

However, the loss of several orders of magnitude of performance for the benefits of object-oriented design is, in my opinion and that of many other engineers, actually not worth the cost. Unlike my example of higher-level language compilers, there is little hope that improved technology can make a significant dent in the resource demands of this technology. There were, and still are, other methods for achieving higher levels of abstraction that do not require hobbling the system to the degree that this technology does.

The reason object-oriented programming has enjoyed so much commercial success is precisely because it was driven by academia at a time when, in a cost-saving measure, Microsoft and other large software companies made the conscious decision to hire droves of new graduates and put them in design leadership roles. While the young engineers' intentions were in the right places and they were eager to implement the new technology touted by their professors, their zeal and enthusiasm were not tempered by experience. The unfortunate results are plain to see.

The gargantuan code base resulting from their enormous energy is essentially un-testable and un-verifiable, while at the same time riddled with bugs. Many experienced software engineers are of the opinion that this code can never be debugged, nor the resulting operating system reasonably well secured.

The only factor that allowed this mistake to continue unabated was the fact that developments in hardware were keeping pace with the burgeoning demands for memory and processor speed required by this technology. Subsequently, the price point for personal computers could be maintained at acceptable levels, even as we were throwing away 99% of the processing power.

Engineers could produce software products rapidly, particularly if they ignored the imperative to allow software reuse, which they did in the interest of rapid product introduction. The result was that each engineer developed their own libraries mostly from scratch, since it took longer to fully understand someone else's object library, which is a daunting task. In addition, using a library under someone else's control meant that you had to keep up with changes in their library, which was usually developed without any consideration of your needs.

This in turn created an environment where the objects were barely tested, since most were specific to a single project, which in itself served as the only testbench. Today, no one really expects software to work properly when first released and it is common to take a dozen or more releases for a software product to “stabilize.” None of this would be acceptable in the hardware world.

Clearly, we are not at the point in ASIC design where we can afford to turn a 50,000-gate design into a five-million gate design to improve our ability to abstract the problem. As laudable a goal as abstraction may be, the end users will not support the extra cost. In fact, it is doubtful that we will get there in our lifetimes.

Meanwhile, until that happens, we should not seriously consider any system of abstraction that looks even remotely like object-oriented design.


Seth Goodman

Goodman Associates, LLC

(Editor's Note: The following is an on-line entry, dated 1994, written by Dave Beckett at the University of Kent at Canterbury, U.K.

“William of Ockham, born in the village of Ockham in Surrey (England) about 1285, was the most influential philosopher of the 14th century and a controversial theologian. The medieval rule of parsimony, or principle of economy, frequently used by Ockham came to be known as Ockham's razor. The rule, which said that plurality should not be assumed without necessity [or, in modern English, keep it simple, stupid], was used to eliminate many pseudo-explanatory entities. It is believed that he died in a convent in Munich in 1349, a victim of the Black Death.”)

You can find the full EDACafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Peggy Aycinena, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.