Posts Tagged ‘Cloud Computing’

Mentor Graphics Displaced Worker Program

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

I’m still up at the Design Verification Conference (DVCon) and have not had a chance to summarize last evening’s Software-As-A-Service and Cloud Computing EDA Roundtable. I will do that over the weekend and have a complete rundown next week, including slides.

In the meantime, I wanted to pass on some information that was announced a week or so ago and which I became aware of just this week. Mentor Graphics has initiated a Displaced Worker Program to provide free training to customers who have lost thier jobs in the last 6 months. Back last Decemeber I had issued a challenge to the EDA vendors to do just this. I don’t know if this challenge had any affect; hopefully they did this because they thought it was the right thing to do.

So far Mentor is the only company that has done this, to my knowledge. I’ve personally had discussions with one other of the “Big 3″, so hopefully they will follow suit. Maybe Mentor’s offer will help prompt them.

What do you think? Should they do this?

harry the ASIC guy

Setting The Record Straight

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Since conducting the Verification Methodology Poll and publishing the raw results last week, I’ve been planning to follow up with a post that digs a little deeper into the numbers. Things have gotten rather busy in the meantime, both at work and with organizing the SaaS and Cloud Computing EDA Roundtable for next week at DVCon. So I’ve let it slip a little.

Well, I noticed today that the verification methodology poll was referenced in a Cadence blog post by Adam Sherer. The results were somewhat mis-interpreted (in my opinion), so that kicked my butt to post my own interpretations to set the record straight. Says Adam:

According to the poll conducted by Harry Gries in his Harry the ASIC Guy blog, you should go “all in” on the OVM because it is the 2:1 favorite.

In fact, the raw results had VMM with 80 users and OVM with 125 users, a ratio of just over 1.5:1 (1.5625 to be exact). So the 2:1 ratio is not accurate. However, if you add in RVM/Vera users to the VMM numbers, and then add in AVM, eRM, and e users to the OVM numbers, that ratio is more like 1.8:1. Closer, but still not 2:1.

It also indicates that my poll says that “you should go ‘all in’ on the OVM”. I never said that nor does the poll say anything about what you “should do”. The data simply captures what people are planning on using next. If you are inclined to follow the majority, then perhaps OVM is the way to go. By contrast, there is nothing in the poll comparing the technical merits of the various methodologies. So, if you are inclined to make up your own mind, then you have some work to do and my poll won’t help you on that. You’re probably better off visiting JL Gray at Cool Verification.

No poll is perfect and it will be interesting to compare to DVCon and John Cooley polls to see if they are consistent. Here are a few other interesting stats that I pulled out of the poll results:

  • 91% of respondents are using some sort of SystemVerilog methodology
  • 10% are using both OVM and VMM (although I suspect many of these are consultants)
  • 27% are still using e or Vera (more e than Vera)
  • 4% are using ONLY VHDL or Verilog (this number may be low due to the skew of respondents towards advanced methodologies)

Again, I welcome you to download the raw data, which you can find in PDF format and as an Excel workbook, and draw your own conclusions.

harry the ASIC guy

SaaS & Cloud Computing EDA Roundtable @ DVCon

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I’ve been writing about Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Cloud Computing as relates to EDA for some time now. Then back in January I made a New Years resolution to organize a SaaS EDA roundtable at the 2009 Design and Verification Conference (DVCon).  About a month ago I asked for volunteers and several of you have stepped up to help. Now, just a week before DVCon, I’d like to formally announce the event.

The SaaS and Cloud Computing Roundtable will be held from 6:30 - 8:00 pm on Wed Feb 25th in the Monterey/Carmel rooms at the San Jose Doubletree Hotel. This is immediately following the DVCon reception down the hall, so grab a drink and a bite and then wander on over.

SaaS and Cloud Computing are 2 of the hottest trends in the Information Technology and software industries. Some EDA companies have already put their toes in the water. This roundtable will explore the following question: Are they trailblazing the future of the industry or are they chasing an empty fad?

The format will consist of 5 brief (< 10 minute) presentations from people involved in various perspectives in SaaS and cloud computing for EDA:

This will be followed by an open, and hopefully lively, discussion.

I’m greatly looking forward to this event, especially since I get to collaborate with such a high-powered team and I have no idea what to expect. I truly believe that this could be one of the more interesting events at DVCon this year.

I hope to see many of you there.

harry the ASIC guy

 

Streams or Fences?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

While growing up in the concrete jungle of New York (Brooklyn to be exact), I developed an interest in the natural world that I got to see too little of. I almost never missed a Sunday night episode of Marlon Perkins and Jim Fowler on Wild Kingdom.  And now, of course, there are dozens of regular shows on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, and on and on and on.

If you’ve watched any of these shows then you know that there is a universal truth in nature. Where there is water, there will be life.  Find a stream and you will find water which nourishes plant life which is food for small animals which are food for larger animals. A stream becomes an oasis of life … a little ecosystem that supports itself and flourishes.

Once they find such an oasis, animals won’t leave on their own.   Even if there may be something better far away, it’s not worth the risk of the trip, because they have all they need. But sometimes nature intervenes. Perhaps there is a drought and the water dries up and the plants fade away. Then the animals have no choice but to look for “greener pastures”.

When animals were first domesticated, shepherds understood this principle and concerned themselves primarily with the care of the flock (imagine some pristine image of David). They knew that the sheep would not stray as long as they were provided for. Ranchers understood this as well, but eventually the they started to worry about other ranchers rustling cattle.  So they built fences to keep the cattle rustlers out and to keep their cattle from straying.

In business, companies have a choice … to focus their time and efforts on creating streams that satisfy their customers’ needs or to create fences to keep the customers in and the competition out. In EDA, the industry leaders have done both.

  • More than a decade ago, Synopsys was an innovator by creating SolvIt! (now Solvnet), a 24/7/365 available knowledge database that enables uncountable designers to solve problems on the weekend or in the middle of the night. I have spoken to several Synopsys customers who cite Solvnet as one of the key reasons they stay with Synopsys tools. Solvnet is a stream.
  • Just a few months ago, Cadence launched it’s Online User Community. Extended from it’s existing user forums, this community offers access to Cadence and designer tool expertise and interaction with those driving the direction of future tools. This is also a stream.
  • Over the last several years, Synopsys has resisted customer requests to offer short-term (e.g. monthly or weekly) licenses for peak use, so that customers could match their license usage with peak needs. They feared that such an offering would jeopardize longer term sales and  lower switching costs for customers. This is a fence. (To be fair, Synopsys has recently started offering short-term e-licensing options)
  • Cadence recently kicked dozens of competitors out of its Connections Program. This is a fence.

I’m not such an idealist to think that EDA companies will focus entirely on creating streams and not consider the competition.  That would be foolhardy. But there is a corporate culture, a corporate mission, that is either focused on the customer or focused on the competition.  That’s a key difference.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about Cloud Computing and Software-as-a-Service for EDA. Some feel it is inevitable. Others point out all the barriers that exist.  Ultimately, I think it boils down to one simple question:

  • Does the EDA industry as a whole, and do EDA companies individually, see their mission as creating streams or building fences?

If just one company sets as it’s mission to build a cloud computing stream, a SaaS oasis, to nourish the design community, then it’s going to happen. And designers and customers will come.

On the other hand, if the EDA industry focuses on building fences to lock customers into long-term agreements, to discourage interoperability, and to squash standardization efforts, then nothing will change and the industry will dry up and die.

It’s up to you. Go build a stream.

harry the ASIC guy

Gary Smith & EE Times Must Read This Blog!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Thanks to Sean Murphy who alerted me to the 2 part piece (here and here) in EE Times on Cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service for EDA.

Those of you who have been reading this blog have already heard me discuss this topic (several times)and many of you have already added your thoughts to the conversation.  It looks like Daya Nadamuni and Gary Smith must either read my blog or have independently realized how the EDA industry is moving.  Either way, given Gary Smith’s and EE Times’ street cred, this will likely help to accelerate any move in that direction.

There is a lot more to be said, so look for my next post where I’ll address the EE Times articles directly.

Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US.

harry the ASIC guy

A Scalpel or a Hatchet?

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

I spoke to a friend of mine at Cadence yesterday morning.

“I came in this morning and tried to log on and I couldn’t.  Turns out I must have mistyped my password, but I was worried there for a minute.”

That seems to sum up the mood at Cadence yesterday as the Turk made his way through the hallways of Cadence worldwide. “I think I’m going to go on vacation for the rest of the day”, my friend said later.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard it from friends, or read it in EE Times or on John Blyler’s blog, that Cadence cut “at least” 625 jobs or 12% of it’s workforce.  John Blyler’s sources say the impact will be closer to 1000 jobs once contractors and others are added in.

The speculation has been going on for several weeks including an interesting exchange on the Yahoo message boards as to how deeply and in what manner Cadence would cut.  Would they take out a scalpel and trim the fat from organizations across the board?  Or would they focus on key areas with technological advantage and hatchet off areas that were non-competitive? Cadence CTO Ted Vucurevich mocked the idea that Cadence would sell off any businesses. Yet, the official press release says that Cadence “emphasized those market segments where Cadence enjoys a leadership position, such as mixed-signal design, advanced verification, and low-power design”, implying it was de-emphasizing other businesses.

So … do we have any idea if these cuts were made with a scalpel or with a hatchet? Here is what I’ve been able to pick up from others regarding what Cadence is doing to save expenses:

  • From the official 8-K report: “(e) Cadence has determined that no payment shall be made to Cadence’s named executive officers or the other participants in the Cadence Senior Executive Bonus Plan for performance in fiscal 2008.” I don’t think this eliminates the golden parachute, but at least it weighs a little less.
  • At least some middle management was let go, including first line managers and some long-time Cadence employees. It seems they are trying to cut the “deadwood” like any organization does now and again but from the management side first. And the impact to the rank and file seems to be less than it could have been. Still, having gone through similar times at Synopsys before, I know that a lot of these people are experienced EDA veterans and good people to have in the organization and I wish them well.
  • All, or a substantial part of their tech pubs was let go. (Makes sense since they can contract this out).
  • IT was hit, though not sure how deep. (Can always move their infrastructure to the cloud or outsource IT - now wouldn’t that be ironic).
  • Berkeley Labs was hit hard or perhaps even shut down (who needs research?)
  • Their DFT R&D group was impacted, perhaps a signal as to their plans for this product line (just a bunch of IBMers anyway).

As yet, there is no indication that entire products are going away, but it’s still early.  Cadence has yet to speak to the investment community since the Fister resignation and delaying their earnings release due to the discovery of an “accounting error”. Personally, I think it will be painful for a company that has endeavored to provide a “complete flow”, to sell off a product and create a hole in that flow.  If they do sell off products, it will be around the edges, not in the core EDA flow.

Take a look at Gary Smith’s analysis from the time that Cadence bid to take over Mentor (can you believe it’s been  just over 4 months since the offer). The tools where Cadence has low market share and are possible targets for the hatchet:

  • Design for Manufacturing
  • Physical Verification
  • Design For Test
  • Static Timing Analysis
  • Synthesis

What do you think? Can you see Cadence divesting any of these products?  Or do you think there are others that might go away? Which product would you definitely not let go?

Inquiring minds want to know….

harry the ASIC guy

Who’s Right, Gary or Seth?

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Last Friday, I took the 45 minute drive from Torrance to Montrose to have coffee with Gary, a successful entrepreneur who is one of the founders of a fledgling IP company. I was introduced to Gary by a friend at Synopsys who suggested that I meet him because he’s had great success and has a lot of insight into how to run a successful business.

Gary brought along his partner, Art, and we had a very good conversation, almost an hour and a half. We discussed what I was working on, what his company was working on, and my revolutionary ideas about the EDA industry. Gary has a lot of experience and he provided some insights I had not heard before:

  • How can EDA companies provide flexible pricing to smaller customers and not to their biggest customers?
  • Software-as-a-Service works for cookie cutter processes like sales and HR and expense reports but not for customized processes like EDA tool flows

And he enforced some feedback that I had heard before:

  • Why would a large EDA company want to cannibalize their long-term license sales with short-term licenses?
  • It’s been tried before and failed.
  • The guys with power have no reason to change the status quo.  They are holding 4 aces.

In short, my discussion with Gary amounted to this … your idea has tremendous value to the end user, the designer, the customer, the small startup or design services company … but the big boys, who have all the power, have no incentive to play ball, and every incentive to leave everything as it is. Gary never came out and said this verbatim, but the message was clear … “you don’t stand a chance!”

_______________

As I drove back from my meeting with Gary, a little discouraged, yet grateful for the honest feedback, I turned on the audiobook version of Seth Godin’s new book Tribes : We Need You To Lead Us, which I wrote about in my last post. Somewhere around downtown LA, near Chinatown, I heard the following:

“All you need to know is 2 things.

  • The first thing you need to know is that individuals have far more power than ever before in history. One person can change an industry. One person can declare war. One person can reinvent science or politics or technology.
  • The second thing you need to know is that the only thing holding you back from becoming the kind of person who changes things is this: lack of faith. Faith that you can do it. Faith that it’s worth doing. Faith that failure won’t destroy you.

… More and more people, good people, people on a mission, with ideas that matter, are stepping forward and making a difference … An individual, or a small group, has the power to turn an existing system on its head. Now, most of the time, we call heretics, leaders. The heretics are winning. You can, no, you must, join them.”

In short, Seth Godin’s book “Tribes” amounted to this … the technology that is available today via the internet (blogs, podcasts, social networks, etc, etc, etc)  provides the leverage to enable one person to initiate and lead a movement that can change the world. All that is necessary is to conquer the fear, to selflessly lead a tribe of people where they already want to go, to enable them to work together to achieve the goal. The message was clear … “you can do it!”

 _______________

So, who’s right, Gary or Seth? This will sound like a cop out, but they are both right.

Gary is right about all the challenges that exist to keep a change from happening.  In EDA, as in many industries, the status quo has tremendous inertia. Those who benefit from the status quo are usually those who have the most tangible power. And they will use that power to maintain the status quo. For all the reasons that Gary gave me.

And Seth is right, that despite all the reasons that change is hard to initiate, change can be ignited from a single spark. And long established industry giants can fall.

Look at the music industry, where the accessibility of music production and distribution capabilities has made the record companies increasingly irrelevant. Independent artists can self-produce and self-distribute their work, without have to sell their futures to the record companies.

It will be the same in the EDA industry. Independent EDA tool developers will be able to self-produce and self-distribute their work, without having to look to an acquisition by one of the “big 3″. I’d like to lead this movement, but I need to be honest … I’m a little scared.

  • Scared for my reputation as a reasonable level headed person.
  • Scared for my relationships with people in the EDA industry who stand to lose out from this change.
  • Scared that I’ll waste several years chasing something that is never going to happen.

I’d like to know that I am not alone. That others will offer their support, their time, their effort, to make this happen. That we can build a Tribe that can change the industry.

If you agree with me … if you feel the same as I do … then let me know. Encourage me so I can encourage you.

And we’ll change the world. (Well, at least the EDA industry).

 harry the ASIC guy

Upon Further Review and W.W.S.D

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

At the end of last Sunday’s Chargers-Bronco’s game, Referee Ed Hochuli blew a call that cost the San Diego Charger’s the football game.  Here’s a somewhat comical look at what happened:

Probably not so comical if you’re a Charger’s fan :-(

Well, last week I got a chance to do some more “research” into the Cadence announcement of a SaaS offering. Although I got the substance of the call correct, in haste I also got one important detail incorrect.  (As, Mark Twain once said, “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Today, a lie can travel around the world several hundred times while you put on your shoes).

I had inferred from the use of the term “Software-as-a-Service“, that the Hosted Design offering would include a “pay per use … pay as you go” or similar on-demand licensing model. Upon further review … this is not the case.  Here are some of the things I found out:

  1. No on-demand licensing, no eDACard … only monthly granularity for licensing. If you want to scale the size of the hosted environment, several weeks lead time may be needed to obtain and configure the additional CPUs unless they are otherwise available.
  2. The “flows” that are offered are the Cadence reference flows (e.g. Low-Power Design Flow), not a production flow that Cadence may or may not be developing.
  3. Cadence says that it can host any third party EDA software … just license it to Cadence’s hostid.

Despite some limitations, this is still a big step. Small companies can now obtain the necessary hardware, software, and IT support to do chip design at a lower initial cost than building their own infrastructure. The VCs should like that.

But there are some limitations.  First, although the Cadence VCAD chamber provides security, it lacks the instant scalability and on-demand pricing that cloud computing would provide. Second, although reference flows are provided, it lacks a real production design environment that designers can just pick up and use.  Third, despite Cadence’s assurances that they will allow other EDA tools to be hosted, competitive tools likely will be discouraged since the ultimate objective is to further lock customers into an all Cadence tool flow.

So, the question now is … What Will Synopsys Do (W.W.S.D)?

Before that, we have to ask What “Has” Synopsys Done?  You see, Synopsys tried and then abandoned a similar idea about 7 years ago. At the time, companies were not “comfortable with the idea that their computers and data were in a remote building operated by a third party”.  But they are now (at least more than before).  At that time, Synopsys had no production design environment available to offer. They do now.

Synopsys could probably go one better and offer a superior solution if it wanted to, combining their DesignSphere infrastructure and Pilot Design Environment.  If fact, they have done this for select customers already, but not as a standard offering. There is some legwork that they’d need to do, but the real barrier is Synopsys itself. They’ve got to decide to go after this market and put together a standard offering like Cadence has.

And while they are at it, if they host it on a secure cloud to make it universally accessible and scalable, and if they offer on-demand licensing, and if they make it truly open by allowing third party tools to plug into their flow, they can own the high ground in the upcoming revolution.

What do you think?

harry the ASIC guy

The Revolution is Coming Sooner Than You Think

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Last week I predicted a Revolution in EDA. I said that “the sooner the EDA companies learn to swim with the tide, the better off they will be after the revolution”. 

Well, today Cadence just jumped into the water and started swimming. Like Michael Phelps!!! You can read the traditional Cadence marketing speak on this new offering here.

In a nutshell, Cadence has made public what it has been offering select customers for some time … hardware, software, design flow, and applications support as a Software-as-a-Service model.  Pay per use … pay as you go.

If you are a small startup that can’t afford the upfront costs for software and hardware and the part-time IT guy…

If you are a small-medium sized design services firm that wants to do turnkey design but can’t afford to keep idle software lying around in between client projects…

If you want to do place and route from your iPhone

This may be for you.

More next week….

harry the ASIC guy

Birth of an EDA Revolution

Friday, September 5th, 2008

I can’t sleep at night.

This Idea has been bouncing around in my head for the past few months. I can’t shake it. If you know me, then you’ve probably heard me talk about the Idea or ask your opinion about the Idea or whether I’m crazy. I’ve been itching to blog about this Idea, but haven’t been able to figure out the right way to approach it.

Then, the other day, Ron Ploof gave me a way to approach the Idea in my blog. Please read Ron’s post on the Birth of a New Media Revolution first before continuing. It’s damn good, you’ll get something out of it, and it gives context to this post.

OK … done? Good.

Ron’s main point is that a revolution can’t happen until all the enabling pieces are in place. New media required easy-to-use publishing tools, simple syndication (i.e. media distribution), and low-cost bandwidth.  Once those were in place, new media hit the tipping point.

Well, I’m going to go out on a limb today with a prediction:

The pieces are coming together for a revolution in EDA. Like most revolutions, it is starting small, hardly noticed by the big guys on the block. In the next 5 years, it will change our industry forever by leveling the playing field, allowing smaller EDA companies to compete with larger ones, giving customers greater flexibility on how and when they access tools and which vendor’s tools they use.

It’s going to happen.  And just as with new media, there are three barriers that will need to come down before we hit that tipping point.  They are:

  1. The high cost of sales, marketing, and support.
  2. Licensing models that lock-in customers.
  3. Lack of comprehensive standards for tool interoperability.

If you’ve been staring at the EDA horizon like I have, you’ve already seen that all of these barriers are starting to come down:

  1. A week ago, a company called Xuropa launched an online tradeshow platform that could greatly reduce the cost of sales for EDA companies and enable greater access to designers to evaluate tools.
  2. For several years now, Cadence has provided access to short-term licenses through their eDACard model and Synopsys will introduce a similar offering before the end of the year. Cadence also provides a service through their consulting organization called “hosted VCAD” whereby customers can access software and hardware on a Software-as-a-Service basis. How long before the other vendors follow?
  3. As Karen Bartleson noted on her blog yesterday, the EDA industry has moved into an “Age of Responsiveness” with regards to tool interoperability where tools are expected to be open and inclusive.  As witnessed in the latest OVM / VMM standards war, open standards are required as the price of admission and “woe be to those” that do not heed this call.

I’m a realist. This EDA revolution is just beginning and will take some time.  It won’t happen without a fight from those who stand to lose out. But I believe that the revolution is inexorable.  And the sooner the EDA companies learn to swim with the tide, the better off they will be after the revolution.

There’s a lot more that I need to say before I can sleep at night, but too much for one post.  Stay tuned.

harry the ASIC guy