Contributing Editors: Peggy Aycinena, Richard Goering, Geoffrey James, Gary Smith
Editor-in-Chief: Gabe Moretti
|vol.3 / issue 3 November 1, 2007|
IN THIS ISSUE:
Geoffrey James' insight on how government hurts EDA
In addition to an interesting letter commenting on Richard Goering's article in last month's issue, this month we feature two articles and a Viewpoint, and we inaugurate a new section dedicated to news about the upcoming DAC.
Peggy Aycinena's interview with Dr. Robert Brayton - this year's winner of the Kaufman Award - gives us a glimpse of the human side of a professional who has dedicated 47 years of his life to our industry. I found the article informative, illuminating, and, yes, invigorating. I hope you will enjoy it as well. The article shows a professional who is at home not only in Berkeley's ivory towers, but also in the world of working engineers and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Al Dunlop, president of the IEEE Council on EDA, is the author of this month's Viewpoint. He is renewing calls for further support of research efforts in our industry and proposes the establishment of a centralized EDA research program to serve the entire industry. Of course, the U.S. government has in the past funded a significant amount of EDA research and development, and it still does, but Al points out that there is no indigenous program dedicated to foster research in EDA, coordinate the link with universities, and make the results available to the entire industry. This is a topic likely to generate material for our Letters to the Editor section.
As work progresses in developing the conference program and all the other activities associated with DAC 2008, we will keep you informed and up-to-date in a new section of this publication. Through this mechanism, you will be able to quickly identify any items that deal directly with the upcoming conference and may require action on your part. I hope you will enjoy this month's issue.
DAC and the DACeZine are tools you can use in growing your awareness of the industry and the possibilities it offers. I hope the publication can stimulate new ideas and new approaches. Continue to write: your feedback helps us improve. Send your letters to: email@example.com.
And tell your friends to subscribe to DACeZine as well -- it is a very good way to get ready for the next DAC in Anaheim. They can do so by visiting the www.dac.com web page.
Jim McKibben, Director of Business Development at Mercury Computer Systems, wrote a letter in response to the Multi-Core article by Richard Goering in the October issue. It said:
"Just a reminder. Mercury Computer Systems, Inc. has been providing a multi-core programming framework for many years. It is rooted in Mercury's pioneering efforts in developing multi-computing platforms long before there were multi-core chips. Programming these advanced multi-computer platforms required Mercury to develop tools and libraries for customers. This framework is being supplied today as Multi-Core Framework (MCF) for the Cell BE and other multicore processors. It is distributed in the U.S. by Terra Soft Solutions - a Linux developer - for the Playstation 3 platform as well as by Mercury for more advanced multi-core solutions like the ones pictured in the attachment."
It turns out that the attachment describes the multithreaded version of Mentor's Calibre tool implemented on a Mercury Computer system. From the attachment, one can read that the Cell BE system consists of three components:
• The Power™ processing element (PPE) has dual hardware multithreading
and a standard VMX vector processing engine. It has
by Geoffrey James
The EDA market experienced strong growth in 2006 and the early months of 2007. Even so, over the past half-decade EDA growth has generally lagged the rest of the software market. The EDA industry's compound annual growth rate (CAGR) since 2001 has been only 5.6 percent, far lower than the rest of the software business and decidedly lukewarm compared to other mature software segments, such as Customer Relationship Management, that have experienced consistently sharp growth, year after year.
EDA, of course, is not a highly regulated industry. However, recent regulatory priorities, both in the United States and Europe, have created a business climate that is peculiarly hostile to the unique conditions under which the EDA market operates. Even though government regulation is not targeted specifically at the EDA industry, the current climate has subtly made it more difficult for EDA firms to grow over the past half decade. And that's bad news for everyone in this business.
ZERO SUM SPENDING
Because the European Union is such a large segment of the electronics market, semiconductor firms could not afford to ignore the directives and thus were forced to completely change the way they tracked the materials that went into their chips, as well as the products that came out of their factories. "We have thousands of suppliers, all of whom must now supply us with documentation and are subject to audit programs," explains Reed Content, senior manager for environment, health and safety (EHS) at AMD.
RoHS and WEEE were godsends for software companies that make Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) and Product Data Management (PDM) applications, according to Jon Gable, vice president of product management for the PLM vendor ENOVIA MatrixOne. "PLM allows you to handle the process by making materials compliance an integral part of the on-going design activity," he explains. The sudden success of the PLM sector would be of little interest to EDA executives if it weren't for one fact: semiconductor firms (just like other companies) have limited budgets for purchasing software.
EDA’s Need to Focus on Research
As the EDA industry evolves and works to heighten its stature and importance within the Semiconductor industry, strategic investment in research –– and not just development –– has never been more of an imperative.
Let me draw a parallel to the Semiconductor industry to show why this investment strategy has moved from important to critical. As we all know, Semiconductor research and processing started within systems companies, with some research coming from academia. As time went on, the industry lived through a host of mergers and we saw the research in silicon processing consolidate within the foundries, the largest systems housesandacademia. This research transitioned along with the processing in a systematic fashion.
By contrast, over the past 25 years, the business of EDA has moved from systems houses to a new commercially viable industry, but the research did not make the complete transition. Instead, much of it was picked up in academia where the link to commercial endeavors is not as tight or as seamless as it is in the case of the Semiconductor industry.
Of course, many readers will note that EDA has used entrepreneurial startups as the point to connect research to development, a strategy that has worked for many years and follows a long-standing Silicon Valley tradition. Nevertheless, tough, real-world problems remain to be solved by EDA and the way to solve them is to apply theoretical research to practical applications through close partnership between research and development.
We are at a point where the current way of doing business needs to change for EDA to be able to support future design requirements.
An Interview with Dr. Robert Brayton – 2007 Kaufman Award Winner
by Peggy Aycinena
Robert Brayton has been named the 2007 recipient of the Phil Kaufman Award for outstanding contributions to electronic design automation. Brayton spent more than a quarter of a century at IBM in Yorktown Heights working in the areas of synthesis and simulation before starting a second, lengthy career in academia as a faculty member at U.C. Berkeley, where he is currently the Cadence Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. With 10 books, 450 papers, and a lengthy list of honors on his CV, it’s probably safe to say that in both his industrial and academic careers, Bob Brayton has excelled. His designation as this year’s Kaufman Award winner is the ultimate comment on his accomplishments in EDA.
I had a chance to speak at length recently with Dr. Brayton. We began by discussing the role his colleague, Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, played in Bob’s decision to come to Cal: “I was at IBM for 26 years, during which time I struck up a collaboration with Alberto, starting when he first came to IBM in 1979 for a year-long sabbatical. Even after he returned to Berkeley, our collaboration continued, particularly during my own sabbatical at Berkeley in 1985. In 1987, I retired from IBM and at Alberto’s urging, applied for and accepted a faculty position at Cal.”
Was the transition to California a big change for him? Bob said, “Yes, in some ways. But everything in life is an adjustment and I never regretted the move. Of course, teaching and guiding students was new to me, but the research component was very similar to what my work had been at IBM.”
Brayton noted that although all three of his children were in college or beyond by 1987, the move did have a major impact on his wife: “We moved away from a neighborhood in New York that had been our home for over 20 years. It’s always hard in those circumstances to leave family and friends behind. I’m originally from Iowa, but my wife is from Boston, so moving to the West Coast really was a change for her.”
Reared and educated in the Midwest – Brayton has a BSEE from the University of Iowa – Bob has roots of his own on the East Coast having earned his Ph.D. in mathematics at MIT. It was during those years in Cambridge that Brayton developed his interest in computing. He told me, “I had a job on campus working as a research assistant in the Artificial Intelligence Lab in the Computer Science Department. I found myself working on the LISP programming language, and [in fact] wrote what I think was the first compiler for the language. It was definitely hard, working in the AI lab, but it was also a lot of fun and intellectually broadening.
“Back in those days, both John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky were in the lab. But although I really liked computers and programming, I didn’t see much of a career path in AI, so I continued on towards my degree in mathematics. Also, when I had studied engineering as an undergraduate, I realized there were some things I couldn’t understand because I couldn’t read the math. That was the original motivation for my area of study at MIT, and I still preferred that over computer science.”
After he finished his Ph.D., Brayton went to work at IBM, a decision based on a summer internship he had had at the company while still in grad school: “The summer before I finished my Ph.D., I had an internship in what turned out to be the beginnings of the IBM Research Division. They had set up a Mathematics and Science Department in six or seven old buildings out in the trees in Westchester County, New York – a lovely setting. The summer I was there, one of my math professors from MIT was also working there, Jurgen Moser. We started working on some research that involved formulating circuit equations, and ultimately published a couple of papers on our work. That was the summer of 1960. After I graduated the following year, IBM hired me back full time.” He added with a laugh, “They had just opened up the new Yorktown Heights Research Center, and I ended up spending 26 years in the same building!”
Technical Program Opened to Best User Group Papers
Are you a designer who presented a paper at a User Group this year? If so, DAC wants to hear from you! The DAC Technical Committee is developing a special session (or two) based on this year’s Best of User GroupS –– or BUGS –– presentations to showcase relevant advances in state-of-the-art design methodologies. The session will highlight the most interesting presentations from vendor-specific user groups held in 2007. Papers of two-six pages in length should describe a creative application of a design flow or a novel EDA tool. A 25-minute presentation during DAC should offer an in-depth technical description of interest to a wide variety of IC designers.
New DAC Website Features Speakers Bureau
The DAC website now includes a Speakers Bureau section, a short form that will be used to help match well-qualified speakers to appropriate panel topics. This new resource is intended to reduce the barrier to entry for potential panelists who may not be part of any formal proposal, and will supplement the more traditional route where proposers suggest a panel topic and a full slate of speakers.
Registration is open to everyone, though preference will be given to experienced speakers with relevant technical and business expertise.
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