Posts Tagged ‘Xuropa’

Dunbar’s Number and #48DAC

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

DAC Badges

My apologies for the recent hiatus in my blog posting. It’s been a difficult time personally for me the past few months, dealing with family illnesses. Hopefully, I can get it going again.

With all that I had going on, it was a relief to escape last week for a few days to DAC in San Diego. After several years attending as a blogger (what DAC calls “independent media”), it was exciting to be on the floor representing Xuropa at the Synopsys Cloud Partners Booth. I still got to see several friends like JL Gray, who wrote up what he heard from us, and Peggy Aycinena, who accused me of being a sellout since I was in the Synopsys Cloud booth and had a Synopsys badge lanyard. And of course, what DAC would be complete without Eric Thune of AtopTech telling me that cloud will never work for EDA. 

One of the downsides of being in the booth was not being able to attend a lot of the other sessions. I missed The Woz, and the Logan & McLellan show, and Gary Smith, and a lot of the panel discussions. I was, however, able to sneak away for the EDA Cloud Computing Panel discussion, featuring the usual suspects and a few new ones. A highlight was when John Bruggeman of Cadence offered to buy John Chilton of Synopsys a beer at the Denali Party and work out a joint Synopsys/Cadence solution on the cloud. No word yet how that turned out. Another highlight was the audience poll at the end where 1/3 of the audience felt that most of EDA would be on the cloud in 3 years. I don’t know if this is correct or not, but this is the 3rd year we had a cloud panel at DAC, and each year the expectations increase. Richard Goering has a good writeup on the panel.

One booth I did visit and get an interesting demo was Duolog. Duolog is a Xuropa customer (you can try out their tool here), which is why I knew a little about them going in. They have a tool called Socrates Bitwise that does register management for processor based designs. In this tool, you specify all the processor accessible registers, their type (RO, RW, etc), the locations (base and offset), and the tool automatically generates the RTL, verification code (OVM, UVM, etc), register package, C APIs and documentation. If something needs to change, you change it in one place in the tool and all the subsequent files are regernerated correct by construction. With many designs having hundreds or thousands of registers to manage, this is a growing problem to be solved. Duolog has a few competitors as well, but their biggest competition is in-house home-grown scripts.

Of course, there were my 150 closest friends I know from years gone by, too numerous to mention, lest I leave someone out. I’m reminded of Sean Murphy’s perfect description of DAC:

The emotional ambience at DAC is what you get when you pour the excitement of a high school science fair, the sense of the recurring wheel of life from the movie Groundhog Day, and the auld lang syne of a high school re-union, and hit frappe.”

An overall impression I, and many others, had was that the show floor was smaller and there were fewer attendees than in the past. The official preliminary numbers, however indicate that DAC was larger than last year, so I’m not sure whether to believe my eyes or the numbers.

For me personally, it was my annual chance to connect with the entire industry, so I got a lot out of it. At a minimum, it provided me with a lot of good ideas that I can work on for the next year.

harry the ASIC guy

How One Designer Started His Company - Agnisys

Monday, February 28th, 2011


I met Anupam Bakshia last year as one of the winner’s of the Xuropa Do More With Less Contest. We’ve kept in touch since then, so when he mentioned that he was going to be a first time exhibitor at DVCon, I was thrilled. Bootstrapping a company is difficult, and attending a conference is a big commitment of time and resources. Anupam asked for Xuropa’s help, so if you go to DVCon this week you will see me in the Agnisys booth. Please stop by and say hello to me and, more importantly, to Anupam.

I also thought it would be interesting to understand how and why Anupam started Agnisys. He was gracious enough to take some time to answer my questions.

Harry: Tell me a little bit about your background?

Anupam: I started my career at Gateway Design Automation (the company that created Verilog), which was later acquired by Cadence Design System where I was responsible for creating Verilog simulation libraries for various foundries. From the very beginning, I despised manual, error prone, laborious work and was often the first in the company to create new Perl based utilities to automate as much as possible. I then joined PictureTel and later Avid where I continued my pursuit of Automation-Nirvana – a design and verification process where no time is wasted, where there is a single source, no duplication ….

Harry: Was there a problem that you encountered that led you to create the products you developed at Agnisys?

Anupam: Yes, my experience at high tech companies helped me understand the typical design and verification challenges the development team face. Both at AVID and PictureTel I was lucky to have bosses that allowed me a free reign to spend a lot of time working with engineers to create useful utilities. It was very gratifying to see happy people using the tools that I created.

Harry: Why and how did you go from working in CAE/Verification groups to starting your own company?

Anupam: These companies were great, but there was a limit to how much time and resources I could spend on tangential activities like creating tools and scripts for process improvement. So I launched this company to work on such process improvement utilities full time and with a dedicated team of people.

Harry: Last year, Agnisys was one of the winners of the Xuropa Do More With Less Contest. Tell us how Agnisys as a company is doing more with less and how your tools help your customers do more with less.

Anupam: We fundamentally believe in doing more with less. We enable our customers to do the same.

Harry: So, IDesignSpec was your company’s first product. Tell me more about what it does?

Anupam: IDesignSpec(IDS) was our first product and it won an award the same year it was launched. It can basically take a register specification and create all the downstream code and documentation from it. Over the years we have added more and more capability and now it is kind of universal register transformation tool. So it can create almost anything from any form of input data.

Harry: Has the importance of this type of tool increased with release of UVM?

Anupam: Yes absolutely! UVM now has a register package however, it doesn’t come with a register generator. IDS fills the void, because it can take your IP-XACT, SystemRDL, Word, Excel, OpenOffice register documentation and create UVM code from it.

Harry: What about IVerifySpec, and IAssertSpec?

Anupam: While IDesignSpec solves a niche problem of managing register data, IVerifySpec solves a broader problem of verification. It enables users to create vendor-neutral plans for verification, monitor their execution and manage gobs and gobs of data associated with modern day verification of large ASICs and FPGAs.
IAssertSpec is a new tool that we have developed, it is basically a “decoder ring” for SVA!

Harry: In closing, do you have anything special planned for DVCon this year?

Anupam: Absolutely! This is our first DVCon and we are very excited to meet all the engineers and show all the exciting things we have for them. Specifically, we are giving away a plug-in for Microsoft Excel capable of generating UVM. We also have a short Quiz for SystemVerilog Assertions that people can test their skills, and if you score in the top 25%, you get a gift!!

Scott Clark on EDA Clouds

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

scottclark.jpgAlthough I had heard his name mentioned quite often, it wasn’t until this year at DAC that I finally met Scott Clark  for the first time. Scott was describing how, as Director of Engineering Infrastructure at Broadcom, he led a project to virtualize Broadcom’s internal data center in order to transform it into a private cloud. It was a great discussion. We had lunch a few weeks later to talk about his new business, Deopli, a company that he has founded to help other semiconductor and EDA companies improve their compute infrastructure operations in similar fashion.

So, when I saw Dan Nenni’s blog post on cloud computing and some of the responses, I thought I’d contact Scott. You see, as opposed to most of those commenting on Dan’s post, Scott has actually taken EDA tools and moved them to the cloud, so he knows what he’s talking about. Scott was kind enough to contribute a blog post on the subject, so please enjoy.


Harry the ASIC Guy pointed me to Dan Nenni’s Silicon Valley Blog to take a look at this post regarding Daniel Suarez’s books Daemon and Freedom. His post intrigued me enough to download the first book to my iPad to get a feel for the style and atmosphere. That was good enough that I plan to read both. You can read Dan’s post to see his overview of the books, but at the end of his post, he poses a question that seemed to spark lots of conversation and varying opinions. His question was “Who can be trusted to secure Darknet (Cloud Computing)?”

I think Dan was making reference to concepts in the book where all data in the world becomes controlled by a finite set of service providers, and therefore creates an exposure based on the singularity of the solution. His references hit pretty close to home in Apple, Microsoft and Google, but that did not seem to be the focus of the responses. Because Dan’s background (and blog) is primarily in the EDA / Semiconductor space, the responses seemed to fall into the category of “Should Semiconductor companies use Cloud Computing?” and the array of opinions seemed to align on the two ends of the spectrum. There were a few respondents who felt that EDA would never ever move into the Cloud or gave somewhat skewed definitions of “cloud” to say “it’s impossible” but for the most part, it was refreshing to see some open minded views of what was possible and how things could work. I was particularly intrigued by Dan’s comment that he felt foundries would venture into the cloud hosting space. Given the history of the fabless semiconductor space, how can that not make perfect sense! The leadup to the creation of foundries was that internal manufacturing was growing in capacity and complexity to the point that it made more sense to have that done externally. The same dynamics are happening in the datacenter space for chip design today.

Some of the comments were very accurate in my experiences, so just to highlight a few (please read the blog for specifics so I don’t mis-quote). Daniel Payne made the observation that semiconductor companies will start by creating their own private cloud, and that is exactly where we are today (compute clusters really are private clouds). James Colgan injected sanity throughout and made some very astute observations about the functional dynamics and applicability of cloud to certain parts of a design flow. I can’t say how much I agree with Kevin Cameron’s comments on security; cloud has the potential to be a huge boost in security for the industry. Tom Anderson indicated that he is already doing chip design using Amazon EC2 resources, and I think there are many more like Tom out there. One of the last postings to date is by Lou Covey, and his opinion is that Cloud for the industry is inevitable - I happen to agree with that. It’s not that we “have to” but more of “this is the right answer for the business, and we should do the right thing”.

One of the missing concepts that I notice is that this blog is looking at generic cloud solutions, and not industry specific solution. You will see the development of EDA specific cloud solutions that is very focused on EDA customers, and in the beginning it will be private clouds with technology added to elastic expansion. That said, looking at Cloud for the EDA industry, there are still going to be several roadblocks to adoption that will need to be addressed:

  • Ego – getting around the perception that IT is a core competency of chip design companies. The core competency of a chip design company should be … chip design.
  • Cost – getting around the expectation that cloud should cost ½ as much as what I am currently paying. There are many economies of scale and efficiencies that cloud brings. Cloud is an opportunity for cost avoidance as time goes forward, not a refund policy.
  • Trust – letting go of what is a critical function / resource and having confidence that you can still get the results necessary. This industry has a very powerful model to refer to. In this case, how the fabs were released, and successful partnerships were formed.
  • Control – how to let go of a critical resource, and still maintain control over the resources, costs, schedules, and dynamics of capacity / priority decisions.
  • Security – probably the most wielded blade in the “you can’t do it” arsenal, but also probably the most misunderstood.
  • Performance – the final roadblock, which is the one with the most technical merit, is performance. There are many different facets to performance, but it will primarily fall into “internal cluster performance” and “display performance”.

My perspective, the ego part we can get around. Current conversations with many EDA companies indicate they are already leaning this direction, which is a good sign.

The cost issue is far more ambiguous. There are as many expectations of cloud as there are definitions, but invariably the expectations are rooted in economics. Given that, the only answer seems to be to create a realistic model for cost, present the data, and let nature take it’s course. There really is cost benefit, so companies will want to accomplish that

Trust seems like it should be the easy part for this industry, but it is proving to be more stubborn than that. I think that is mostly because of the implied threat to job security for the people who are currently performing the tasks (who are usually the people receiving the presentation about outsourcing their job). EDA companies should examine their own history to see what to do and how to do it.

The control front falls into the same category as trust. The same way that fabless semiconductor companies created internal organizations and positions for managing the outsource of the foundries, that model should be applied to the outsourcing of computational infrastructure. That is not to say there will not be contention issues for capacity and priority. The cloud suppliers will need to make sure they have enough resources so they can provide sufficient capacity to the customers, or they will not be the supplier long. Again, foundries will be a great model to look at for this.

On the security front, Cloud will at a minimum give data points to show how weak internal security has been historically. Applying best security practices in a consistent manner should actually help evolve an industry specific cloud security solution to better address security issues. And for the time being, we can just avoid the multi-tenant aspects of security by maintaining isolation – private clouds with share dynamic resources.

And finally, given that we are stalking about EDA specific clouds, they will be specifically designed to have “internal cluster performance” appropriate for EDA. It will be designed exactly like we would design that cluster for a companies private datacenter. The tricky part will be in addressing display performance issues for functions like custom layout and board design where network latency causes the engineer’s working style to be impacted.

So really this boils down to proper execution by the EDA cloud providers, and one technical hurdle of display latency, which has many ways to be addressed. There is a lot of money and attention being aimed at these issues and this industry, and really no real reason why it will not succeed. There might be some companies that choose to adopt at a slower rate than others, but I believe this will become the direction everyone goes eventually. Thanks Dan for a great read and thanks Harry for pointing me at it.


Scott Clark has been an infrastructure solution provider in the EDA/Semiconductor industry for the last 20 years, working for companies like Western Digital, Conexant, and Broadcom. He holds a bachelors of science in applied mathematics from San Diego State University and is currently President and CEO of Deopli Corporation. You can follow Scott on his blog at HPC in the Clouds.

My Obligatory TOP 10 for 2009

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

2009 To 2010 / CC BY 2.0

What’s a blog without some sort of obligatory year end TOP 10 list?

So, without further ado, here is my list of the TOP 10 events, happenings, occurrences, observations that I will remember from 2009. This is my list, from my perspective, of what I will remember. Here goes:

  1. Verification Survey - Last February, as DVCon was approaching, I thought it would be interesting to post a quickie survey to see what verification languages and methodologies were being used. Naively, I did not realize to what extent the fans of the various camps would go to rig the results in their favor. Nonetheless, the results ended up very interesting and I learned a valuable lesson on how NOT to do a survery.
  2. DVCon SaaS and Cloud Computing EDA Roundtable - One of the highlights of the year was definitely the impromptu panel that I assembled during DVCon to discuss Software-as-a-Service and Cloud Computing for EDA tools. My thanks to the panel guests, James Colgan (CEO @ Xuropa), Jean Brouwers (Consultant to Xuropa),  Susan Peterson (Verification IP Marketing Manager @ Cadence), Jeremy Ralph (CEO @ PDTi), Bill Alexander (VP Marketing @ Blue Pearl Software), Bill Guthrie (VP Marketing @ Numetrics). Unfortunately, the audio recording of the event was not of high enough quality to post, but you can read about it from others at the following locations:

    > 3 separate blog posts from Joe Hupcey (1, 2, 3)

    > A nice mention from Peggy Aycinena

    > Numerous other articles and blog posts throughout the year that were set in motion, to some extent, by this roundtable

  3. Predictions to the contrary, Magma is NOT dead. Cadence was NOT sold. Oh, and EDA is NOT dead either.
  4. John Cooley IS Dead - OK, he’s NOT really dead. But this year was certainly a turning point for his influence in the EDA space. It started off with John’s desperate attempt at a Conversation Central session at DAC to tell bloggers that their blog sucks and convince them to just send him their thoughts. For those who took John up on his offer by sending their thoughts, they would have waited 4 months to see them finally posted by John in his December DAC Trip report. I had a good discussion on this topic with John earlier this year, which he asked me to keep “off the record”. Let’s just say, he just doesn’t get it and doesn’t want to get it.
  5. The Rise of the EDA Bloggers.
  6. FPGA Taking Center Stage - It started back in March when Gartner issued a report stated that there were 30 FPGA design starts for every ASIC start. That number seemed very high to me and to others, but that did not stop this 30:1 ratio from being quoted as fact in all sorts of FPGA marketing materials throughout the year. On the technical side, it was a year where the issues of verification of large FPGAs came front-and-center and where a lot of ASIC people started transitioning to FPGA.
  7. Engineers Looking For Work - This was one of the more unfortunate trends that I will remember from 2009 and hopefully 2010 will be better. Personally, I had difficulty finding work between projects. DAC this year seemed to be as much about finding work as finding tools. A good friend of mine spent about 4 months looking for work until he finally accepted a job at 30% less pay and with a 1.5 hour commute because he “has to pay the bills”. A lot of my former EDA sales and AE colleagues have been laid off. Some have been looking for the right position for over a year. Let’s hope 2010 is a better year.
  8. SaaS and Cloud Computing for EDA - A former colleague of mine, now a VP of Sales at one of the small but growing EDA companies, came up to me in the bar during DAC one evening and stammered some thoughts regarding my predictions of SaaS and Cloud Computing for EDA. “It will never happen”. He may be right and I may be a bit biased, but this year I think we started to see some of the beginnings of these technologies moving into EDA. On a personal note, I’m involved in one of those efforts at Xuropa. Look for more developments in 2010.
  9. Talk of New EDA Business Models - For years, EDA has bemoaned the fact that the EDA industry captures so little of the value ($5B) of the much larger semiconductor industry ($250B) that it enables. At the DAC Keynote, Fu-Chieh Hsu of TSMC tried to convince everyone that the solution for EDA is to become part of some large TSMC ecosystem in which TSMC would reward the EDA industry like some sort of charitable tax deduction. Others talked about EDA companies having more skin in the game with their customers and being compensated based on their ultimate product success. And of course there is the SaaS business model I’ve been talking about. We’ll see if 2010 brings any of these to fruition.
  10. The People I Got to Meet and the People Who Wanted to Meet Me- One of the great things about having a blog is that I got to meet so many interesting people that I would never have had an opportunity to even talk to. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with executives at Synopsys, Cadence, Mentor, Springsoft, GateRocket, Oasys, Numetrics, and a dozen other EDA companies. I’ve even had the chance to interview some of them. And all the fellow bloggers I’ve met and now realize how much they know. On the flip side, I’ve been approached by PR people, both independent and in-house. I was interviewed 3 separate times, once by email by Rick Jamison, once by Skype by Liz Massingill, and once live by Dee McCrorey. EETimes added my blog as a Trusted Source. For those who say that social media brings people together, I can certainly vouch for that.

harry the ASIC guy

Two Blog or Not Two Blog?

Monday, September 7th, 2009

I got an email last week from one the readers of this blog that observed “it would be interesting to learn how to manage both blogs while doing justice to your readers.” He was of course referring to my new blog on Xuropa that I write in addition to this one.

Indeed, this was a concern of mine that I had considered carefully before embarking on the other blog … or so I thought. The other day I wrote a new blog post about how designers want to actually use tools hands-on rather than just listen to product marketing pitches, or webinars, or podcasts. I originally wrote the post for this blog, then decided that it made more sense for the Xuropa blog, and ended up publishing it there (here’s the link). But it could have really gone on either one with small adjustments. I can see that this is now going to be more difficult than I thought.I did a little research online to see how other bloggers are handling writing multiple blogs. One of the suggestions was to set down the objectives of each of the blogs so I could be more clear in my mind and to the readers. I think that’s a good idea. So here goes:

  • The Xuropa blog will be focused on ways that EDA companies can do more with less, like cloud computing, online tool access, and software-as-a-service. It will also be written for an audience of EDA sales and marketing professionals. If you are in EDA, you’ll want to subscribe to that blog.
  • The harry the ASIC guy blog will include lots of other content and is hopefully valuable for people in all aspects of the semiconductor industry. I’ll discuss general engineering trends, quarterly reports from EDA companies, technical topics, and industry news. If you are a designer, you’ll want to subscribe to this blog.

I’m guessing that many of you will be interested in both topic areas and so it is OK to subscribe to the Xuropa blog and subscribe to this blog. You have my permission. After some time you may find that you are only interested in one of the blogs. That’s OK too, just unsubscribe to the one that doesn’t meet your needs.

Another suggestion was to set realistic expectations for how frequently I’d be publishing a new post. I think that is a good idea as well. I will continue to post on this blog roughly once per week as I have in the past. For some time I was actually closer to 2 posts per week but I have fallen back to once a week and that is about what I can handle now. The other blog is shared with some other folks from Xuropa so I will probably publish there every other week. We’ll see how that goes.

I’d like to ask you each a favor as well. Please help me keep to my commitment. I’ve already made this commitment of public record here, so that alone will provide some pressure. But if I start to post too infrequently or the quality slips or goes off track, let me know. Leave a comment or send me an email.

I would also like to make this blog a little more fresh and collaborative. I’ve said in the past that I learn more from you folks than you learn from me. You are working in hundreds of companies with thousands of years of collective experience. I’d like to see if we can tap into that for all our benefit. So here’s the deal:

  • If you have an idea for a blog post, let me know. Leave it as a comment or send me an email. I’ll make sure I give you full credit (unless you want to be anonymous) and link back to your website or LinkedIn profile.
  • If you’d like to write a guest blog post, I’m open to that as well. The more viewpoints the better.

Of course, not every suggestion will be used and not every offer of a guest blog post will be accepted. I’ll still make that decision to make sure the content is of high quality. But I won’t censor anything just because I disagree.

Well, I guess that’s it. We’re going to try this 2 blog thing and see how it goes. Wish me luck.

harry the ASIC guy

Community Based Tweeting

Monday, March 9th, 2009

A few weeks ago, Seth Godin reminded us to be careful what you say online because Google never forgets.

Yesterday, Ron Ploof reminded us that we can “sift extraordinary insight out of ordinary” Twitter traffic if we know how to look.

So today, I thought I’d keep the ball rolling. I’d like to share with you an interesting Twitter thread concerning online communities for electronic design. It started last Friday and really heated up today. It’s amazing what you can find with a little effort :-)

(Note: I have reversed the usual “most-recent-first” ordering of Twitter Tweets to make this easier to read.)

JL GrayjlgrayFiddling around with the Cadence online lab on Xuropa… Still don’t get the community part of Xuropa but the VNC demo is cool.9:52 PM Mar 6th from TweetDeck

loucoveyloucovey@jlgray do you get the community part of DVCon? How about DAC? Same thing w/o hotel rooms and sore feet.10:27 PM Mar 7th from twitterrific

JL Grayjlgray@loucovey Not sure there are enough folks on Xuropa to have a robust community. Why not just use Twitter/Facebook/Verif Guild/OVM World…about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

JL Grayjlgray@loucovey What’s on Xuropa to motivate me to build YASN (Yet Another Social Network)?about 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

Paul Marriottpmarriott@jlgray Too many communities cause fragmentation. I only have time for a few “quality” areas. I can’t be in all places at all timesabout 14 hours ago from TweetDeck

Dave_59dave_59@pmarriott @jlgray I like Plaxo and LinkedIn tie-in to social networks. I can see where people are posting from one site. Needs more tie-insabout 13 hours ago from web

david lindltweeting@jlgray @loucovey don’t know if it’s xuropa or YASN, but I for one would like to see an independent online chip-design community evolve.about 12 hours ago from TweetDeck

Paul Marriottpmarriott@dltweeting It’s hard to have any chip-design community that’s truly independent. Everyone has some kind of axe …about 11 hours ago from web

david lindltweeting@pmarriott maybe independent is too strong. how about “balanced”? something like DAC, EDAC, or GSA could potentially pull it off.about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Paul Marriottpmarriott@dltweeting “Balanced” like USA Today editorials? Yuck. I want opinion, not PC mediocre rubbish. At least opinion spurs debateabout 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

david lindltweeting@pmarriott haha. not interested in PC rubbish either. balanced in that we get all perspectives. don’t need one view dominating convo.about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Tommy Kellytommykelly@pmarriott “PC mediocre rubbish”? SO get a Mac d00d. PC. Mac. Geddit? … OK, maybe not.about 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Paul Marriottpmarriott@tommykelly Hope Steve Jobs is paying you commission Mr Macintoshabout 10 hours ago from TweetDeck

Tommy Kellytommykelly@pmarriott The Lord Steve (May He Live Forever) doesn’t need to pay his willing minions. We work for love (and shiny objects).about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck

JL Grayjlgray@dltweeting One could say there is a chip-design community building here which is controlled by no one!about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck

JL Grayjlgray@pmarriott If past history holds, in a couple of weeks, @tommykelly will be pushing the benefits of PCs with input from Lord Gates :-).about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck

david lindltweeting@jlgray yes, but discovering voices/people -> too tedious. content disaggregated -> hard to follow convos. hashtags antiquated.about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

Paul Marriottpmarriott@jlgray @tommykelly maybe a PC with Lord Torvalds is the best solution. No Micro$oft, no problem :) about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

david lindltweetinganyone ever try friendfeed?about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

Tommy Kellytommykelly@dltweeting… . Not completely sure yet what the point is, other than an excuse for more social notworking.about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

david lindltweeting@tommykelly me neither, but they have a friendfeed “room” … can aggregate tweets, blogs, pics, linkedin updates, etc.about 8 hours ago from TweetDeck

John Fordjohn_m_ford@tommykelly: re: “social notworking” LOL!!about 7 hours ago from BeTwittered

david lindltweeting@john_m_ford @tommykelly hah! completely missed that! not working indeed!about 7 hours ago from TweetDeck

Mentor Graphicsmentor_graphicsMentor Graphics Community FAQ #Mentorabout 4 hours ago from web

James ColgansfojamesSocial Networks Presage Professional Network Growth? 3 hours ago from TweetDeck

JL Grayjlgray@dltweeting But on the bright side, you get to channel William Shatner when writing short tweets!about 3 hours ago from TweetDeck

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


SaaS - With None of the Benefits

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

A friend just made me aware of a new “No EDA Tool Purchase” plan from Blue Pearl Software.

Hmmm …. sounds like Software-as-a-Service with none of the benefits for customer or vendor:

  • Customer still needs to generate a PO. (By old school thinking, that’s a way to “qualify” the customer.  New school, that’s a barrier to customers actually trying your tool).
  • Still need to install software at the customer’s site. (”What OS are you running? What version? Do you have the right version of ActiveTcl installed?” Ugh!!!)
  • Still need to incur the cost of travel. (Nuff said)
  • Have to get the work done in a 2-day fixed window (Is anything ever done in this short a timeframe? If not, then what?)
  • Have to schedule to when the AE is available, so customer can’t do this on a moment’s notice. (How does a month from now sound … Oh … never mind … AE is out that week … how about the following week).
  • Need to dedicate an AE full-time per customer. (What’s he do while the customer goes to meetings?)

Instead, why not:

  • make the software available online
  • let the designer upload his RTL and work from his desk
  • let the AE work remotely from his office

No PO required. No installation issues. No travel. Easy to schedule and staff and extend if needed. (See what Xuropa is doing). Heck, why not just sell the software that way while you’re at it.

Maybe I’m missing something.  Maybe someone from Blue Pearl wants to explain what the thinking behind this is.

And if you’re interested in topics like this, stay tuned for more on the upcoming SaaS EDA Roundtable at DVCon.

harry the ASIC guy

Facebook & Salesforce - What Does it Mean?

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Two weeks ago, at their annual Dreamforce Conference, Facebook and announced that they had jointly developed technology that will integrate within pages on the popular social networking site the enterprise apps from the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) vendor. As an example of this integration, they demonstrated an app that can leverage the social aspects of Facebook to determine what “friends” on the service might be possible candidates for a job listing. As a result, recruiters can more easily reach a larger number of more qualified candidates and job seekers can be notified of potentially interesting job opportunities.  The app will automatically log where the referral came from and credit the friend with the referral.  Future integration with LinkedIn and MySpace should be forthcoming.

Besides improving the recruiting and job seeking process, there are 3 other aspects of this collaboration that are noteworthy and bring up possible applications in the EDA space.


First, as stated in Denis Pombriant’s CRM blog,

using Facebook’s widgets and up-to-date demographic data, companies can develop applications that leverage customer knowledge that enables them to better sponsor and understand communities of interest without the expensive and time-consuming effort of keeping a customer list current. By definition, a user of Facebook or other social site will keep his or her data current out of necessity, and this will move us a long way toward relieving the problems associated with aging lists and duplicate entries.”

Just as recruiters can find better potential job candidates, EDA vendors and design services companies can find better potential customers and clients. If you are a small EDA company that already uses their software, why not build an app on that links to Facebook or LinkedIn to find potential customers? Not for the purpose of spamming them (please!!!), but for the purpose of identifying those who might truly benefit from your products and services so you can contact them directly. Alternatively, if you’re not a customer, I’m sure that James Colgan would point out that there is also the professional user community at Xuropa that can serve a similar purpose. You could contact your prospect as follows:

“Hi Joe. My name is Harry Gries and I’m an independent ASIC Methodology Consultant. I noticed from your public profile that you are currently designing an extremely complex ASICs with some leading edge technologies and tools. Personally, I have over 20 years experience (over 14 years in the EDA industry) working with advanced technologies and methodologies and have helped several clients identify the right tools to use and put together working methodologies. If you feel you might have need for someone like me, please contact me through my profile.  Or, if you feel someone else might be interested, please pass on my contact info. Thanks for your time, Harry”.


The second interesting aspect is the increasingly acknowledged business application and utility of social media. Just today I reminisced with a co-worker about the early days of the Internet when web sites were blocked because employees would “waste time” surfing the net. He remarked that today, if we were to block access to the internet, we’d have legitimate outcries that employees could not get their job done. The internet has become indispensible, for googling a technical term, for accessing product information and users’ experiences, for keeping up-to-date on industry news and technical breakthroughs. I expect that social media sites, such as Facebook, will soon be acknowledged as just as indispensible as more traditional web sites today.


The third and final  interesting aspect is how the #4 provider in the CRM industry is “upsetting the applecart”. Continuing from Denis Pombriant’s CRM blog,

“…it was not any of the larger and older (and richer) software giants that made the announcement. Instead, it was a relative newcomer yet to celebrate its 10th birthday, and with revenues only a fraction of Oracle, SAP, or Microsoft, that made the news.

So why didn’t Oracle, SAP, or Microsoft, come to this conclusion and build a product? A good question. The answer rests less on technology — any of them could develop the technology — and more on temperament. Of the four companies, only has an on-demand or Software as a Service vision not clouded by the need to preserve a massive legacy code base and the considerable revenue stream it represents. In short, did this because it could and because it has a clear understanding of the future of computing.”

Three big industry leaders … the need to preserve a revenue stream … sound familiar?

harry the ASIC guy

Leverage Can Be Your Friend

Monday, September 29th, 2008

During these last few weeks of the subprime mortgage crisis in the US, many of us have become all too familiar with the term “leverage” as it applies to those entities that used to be called investment banks.  That kind of leverage is very powerful and is also very dangerous, as we all found out.

There is a 2nd type of leverage that we engineers learned about in basic physics. As Archimedes once said, “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.”

But there is 3rd type of leverage that is “the power or ability to act or to influence people, events, decisions, etc.” Some people call it ROI. I’d like to share with you three examples that recently came to my attention whereby one small EDA company in our industry is using the principles of leverage to try to “move the world”.

Productive EDA

I came across these guys through my Google Reader when the President, Jeremy Ralph, posted the following new product announcement to the OVM World blogs.  Jeremy cleverly used the power of OVM World to reach hundreds (thousands?) of potential customers.  And what did he invest? Only the time it took to write the blog post and put it up.

That’s leverage!

But wait, there’s more.  Jeremy caught my interest when he called the SpectaReg product a Web2.0 application, so I clicked to view the press release and was pleasantly surprised to see that their “products are available online, at lower cost, as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)”. Well, I had been fooled just last week into thinking that Cadence was completely entering the SaaS market, so I wanted to make sure. After all, as President George W. Bush once cautioned, “fool me once, shame on…shame on you…you fool me, you can’t get fooled again.” So I spoke to “President Ralph” on the phone, and indeed, this truly is a Web-based Software-as-a-Service, pay-per-use offering. Using the power of the internet and SaaS, his company is able to deploy its software to virtually any customer of any size anywhere, all from their office in Vancouver, BC.

That’s leverage!

But wait, there’s still more. I pointed Jeremy to, a recently launched online electronic design community and tradeshow platform, that I covered back in June and again three weeks ago. To his credit, Jeremy was already aware of Xuropa. I’m not sure where that will go, but his small EDA company would be able to reach even more potential customers worldwide and provide product training and evaluations through their online labs.

That’s leverage!

Leverage can be your friend. These new media business-to-business (B2B) strategies can enable smaller EDA companies like Productive EDA, which is exactly the type of company that I was considering when I wrote on my blog three weeks ago:

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.

Indeed, leverage can be your friend.

harry the ASIC guy