The Revolution Will Not Be Televised!!!

My friend Ron has a knack for recognizing revolutionary technologies before most of us. He was one of the first to appreciate the power of the browser and how it would transform the internet, previously used only by engineers and scientists. He was one of the first and best podcasters. And now he’s become a self-proclaimed New Media Evangelist, preaching the good news of Web 2.0 and making it accessible to “the rest of us”.

Most of us are familiar with mainstream Web 2.0 applications, whether we use them or our friends use them or our kids use them. Social and professional networks such as My Space, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Podcasts in iTunes. Blogging sites on every topic. Virtual worlds such as Second Life. Collaboration tools such as Wikipedia. File sharing sites such as Youtube and Flickr. Social bookmarking sites such as Digg and Technorati. Open source publishing tools such as WordPress and Joomla. Using these technologies we’re having conversations, collaborating, and getting smarter in ways that were unimaginable just 5 years ago. Imagine, a rock climber in Oregon can share climbing techniques with a fellow climber in Alice Springs. And mostly for free, save for the cost of the internet connection.

When we think of Web 2.0, we tend to think of teenagers and young adults. But this technology was invented by us geeks and so it’s no surprise that the ASIC design world is also getting on-board. Here are some examples from the ASIC Design industry:

Social media is networking ASIC designer to ASIC designer enabling us to be smarter faster. But that’s not all. Many forward looking companies have recognized the opportunity to talk to their customers directly. About 6 months ago, Synopsys launched several blogs on its microsite. Xilinx also has a User Community and a blog. It’s great that this is happening, but does it really make much of a difference? Consider what I believe could be a watershed event:

A few months ago, JL Grey published a post on his Cool Verification blog entitled The Brewing Standards War – Verification Methodology. As expected, verification engineers chimed in and expressed their ardent opinions and viewpoints. What came next was not expected … stakeholders from Synopsys and Mentor joined the conversation. The chief VMM developer from Synopsys, Janick Bergeron, put forth information to refute certain statements that he felt were erroneous. A marketing manager from Mentor, Dennis Brophy, offered his views on why OVM was open and VMM was not. And Karen Bartleson, who participates in several standards committees for Synopsys, disclosed Synopsys’ plan to encourage a single standard by donating VMM to Accellera.

From what I’ve heard, this was one of the most viewed ASIC related blog postings ever (JL: Do you have any stats you can share?). But did it make a difference in changing the behavior of any of the protagonists? I think it did and here is why:

  • This week at the Synopsys Users Group meeting in San Jose, the VMM / OVM issues were the main topic of questioning for CEO Aart DeGeus after his keynote address. And the questions picked up where they left off in the blog post…Will VMM ever be open and not just licensed? Is Synopsys trying to talk to Mentor and Cadence directly? If we have access to VMM, can we run it on other simulators besides VCS?
  • Speaking to several Synopsoids afterwards, I discovered that the verification marketing manager referenced this particular Cool Verification blog posting in an email to an internal Synopsys verification mailing list. It seems he approved of some of the comments and wanted to make others in Synopsys aware of these customer views. Evidently he sees these opinions as valuable and valid. Good for him.
  • Speaking to some at Synopsys who have a say in the future of VMM, I believe that Synopsys’ decision to donate VMM to Accellera has been influenced and pressured, at least in part, by the opinions expressed in the blog posting and the subsequent comments. Good for us.

I’d like to believe that the EDA companies and other suppliers are coming to recognize what mainstream companies have recognized … that the battle for customers is decreasingly being fought with advertisements, press releases, glossy brochures, and animated Power Point product pitches. Instead, as my friend Ron has pointed out, I am able to talk to “passionate content creators who know more about designing chips than any reporter could ever learn”, and find out what they think. Consider these paraphrased excerpts of the cluetrain manifesto : the end of business as usual:

  • The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized.
  • People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors.
  • There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.
  • Companies that don’t realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity.
  • Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance.

In short, this ASIC revolution will not be televised!!!

harry the ASIC guy

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8 Responses to “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised!!!”

  1. JL Gray says:


    Wish I could have made it to SNUG this year! The post on Cool Verification you’re referring to plus one other related CV post have together had about 2400 page hits since I published them. I was shocked at the response to those posts, both on the blog and through some interesting emails I received in the following weeks. BTW, can I ask where the quote you reference came from? I’d be interested to read the entire original post. (btw… there’s a typo in the spelling of my last name ;-). Take it easy, and I look forward to meeting up with you at DAC.


  2. harry says:

    Hi JL,

    Sorry about the typo on your name 🙂 . The quote regarding “passionate content creators who know more about designing chips than any reporter could ever learn” came from a recent post on regarding the recent riffs of Gary Smith and Mike Santarini. Ron was also the one who gave me a sense of the traffic this post created.

    See you at DAC, Harry

  3. Ron Ploof says:

    Hi Harry,

    Great post…and thanks for the kudos 🙂 Good luck with the blog.

  4. danubi1 says:

    I can just hear Gil Scott Heron:-

    “The revolution will be no re-run brothers; The revolution will be live!”

    Very well said, Harry – I think this VMM/OVM discussion has been a good case study of the power of these naked conversations. These conversations were going on anyway, but once the positions were captured in blogs and were a google search away, the parties had to do something! I hope it results in something good for the engineering community.


  5. Martin says:

    I pointed out to Karen back in March that Synopsys “open source standards” was just a marketing term and that
    it was code I was interested in.

    When users can break out of the vendor captive setups, we all benefit.

  6. >When users can break out of the vendor captive setups, we all benefit.

    I agree 100%. System-Verilog is not like VHDL or Verilog where you can just switch simulators. The OOP nature of System-Verilog means that you will naturally build up a library of reusable classes, whether using OVM or VMM or your own library. If so, you want to know that you can migrate the library to another vendor so you’re not captive.

  7. james says:

    Your posts are good.
    There is a website that educates the vlsi chip design community

  8. FPGA & CPLD says:

    Also take a look at what the FPGA Central ( & are doing. They have created a database of all all the Vendors/IPs etc and much more.

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