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Archive for April, 2008

Note to Startups – Work on your Briefings

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Ah, the joys of meeting with startups! Don’t misunderstand me – I enjoy talking with the engineers and technical folks at startup companies. But the official press briefing of startup companies are often less than helpful. In fact, a handful of such briefings have become classics among editors for their consistent lack of useful information.

Chris Edwards, well-known UK writer, has a great post about the lack of satisfaction in startups briefings in the latest Publitek Media News. Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

… going to startup briefings can be a lot less rewarding than simply surfing the web or turning up to conferences. I’m coming across more situations where the press meeting contains almost no useful information. Yet the CTO is spilling the beans to an audience of engineers in another room.

Press briefings are usually the last thing most startups think about. And it shows.

The Second Law of Technology

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Chanced upon a discussion of the “First Law of Technology” at a Technology and Innovation Strategies event on FaceBook:

“The First Law of Technology says that “with every change in technology that affects consumer behavior, we always overestimate the impact in the short term, but then underestimate the full impact over the long term.” The original dot-com era a decade ago was over hyped, but by now the Web has become a utility, increasingly available anywhere for any purpose. This is the Information Age, yet we’re just beginning to gather the information and understanding to know how it changes our lives.” — L. Gordon Crovitz, the former publisher of the Wall Street Journal

Really, this should have been called the “First Law of Technology” for economists. Nevertheless, I’m curious what the second law would look like? Perhaps it would be as following – taking my lead from the Second Law of Thermodynamics:

The Second Law of Technology states that consumer behavior within a global system which is not yet in equilibrium will favor products that result in the lowest profit margin for their producers. This is an expression of the universal law of increasing product commoditization. The latest casualty of the law has been microprocessor hardware, soon to be followed by EDA tools.

Seriously; Does anyone know the “official” Laws of Technology? Are there any? If so, are they akin to Putt’s Laws?  BTW – I think I know the true identity of Archibald Putt. Lucky me. <grin>

VC Investment Down, But Acquisitions Up?

Monday, April 21st, 2008

A recent “Silicon Forest Blog? notes that VC investment in US companies is down by 7 percent from the first three months of last year.

While it’s too early to forecast a trend in funding, it is interesting to compare this data point with the recent acquisition – say, in the last 3 to 4 months – of EDA companies. Here’s my very unofficial short list:

  • Syplicity-Hardi acquired by Synopsys
  • ChipEstimate acquired by Cadence
  • Novas acquired by Springsoft (parent company)
  • Ansoft acquired by Ansys (simulation sw)
  • Sirific Wireless acquired by Icera Inc (SDR modem chipsets)
  • Sabio Labs acquired by Magma Design
  • AMIS (parts of LSI and AD) acquired by ON SemiconductorNovelics joint deal with Synopsys

These two data sets seem to beg the question: Are the number of available EDA start-ups actually shrinking? Does anyone really know?

BTW: I have some interesting data of my own (thx to sources that I’ll share later). Look for that in the next few weeks.

Quick Impression of the Embedded Systems Conference ’08

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Spent most of the last three days (Apr 14th – 16th) attending the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose, CA. Met with lots of companies, which I’ll report on later. But here’s my quick take on the conference:

Impressions:

  • Technical sessions seemed well attended and interesting.
  • Traffic on the show floor seemed lighter this year over last year. Not bad, just a bit lighter. This made for an easier parking situation.
  • Keynote address started with an entertaining video that highlighted the history of embedded systems. I left shortly after Jack Ganssle started his presentation. Would have liked to stay to listen to Jack and the other speakers, but my publisher had other ideas for my time.
  • No real earth-shaking technology was introduced at the show, which is OK since lots of incremental improvements in existing technology were presented, especially in those products aimed at the mobile, multimedia consumer market.

Here’s a short list of my more interesting meetings (all at the show, except where noted):

  • Xelerated – network proessor technology (not at the show)
  • NXP Semi – ARM9 microcontrollers with tons of peripherals
  • Intel Embedded – demos of Atom processor and more
  • MentorEmbedded Group
  • Moschip – ICs for networking
  • Sidence – memory (had to walk to the “IP? show at the Fairmont for this one)
  • XMOS – Software define silicon. The image below is the XMOS XS1-G Development Kit. Very aesthetic with it’s blue glow.

XMOS XS1-G Development Kit

Coolest technology:

> Met with Brian, one of the inventors/entrepreneurs vying for Google Lunar X-Prize moon rover project. Brain, supported in this effort by his wife, is an ordinary fellow with the drive and daring to bring his idea for a moon rover to fruition. You can also see a Video of the Rover’s first trip outdoors on YouTube.

Moon rover on show floorMoon rover and remote camera display

Oddest sights:

> Eco-lounge at the entrance to the ESC exhibit hall. This “lounge,? was nothing more than a bunch of colorful bean-bag chairs scattered around for attendees benefit. Nice idea, but in all honesty bean bag “chairs? are not all that comfy for anyone over 25. Plus, there is no way to gracefully stand up from the bags.

> Much better than the bean bag chairs – though equally odd – was the “multimedia” chair at the CEVA booth. The multimedia system was powered by CEVA’s DSP technology. Note the weary editor taking a much deserved break.

CEVA multimedia bubble chair

Wikipedia or Deletopedia

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

Interesting article in the Guardian about the evolution (or de-evolution) of Wikipedia. A bit long, but offers of view of Wikipedia that I hadn’t seen. For example:

?… one of the most thoughtful observers of Wikipedia’s history, told a Canadian reporter: “The preference now is for excising, deleting, restricting information rather than letting it sit there and grow.”?

And the great experiment in Internet democracy continues.

Weapons of mass construction

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Missed this April Fool’s joke from Bluespec last week while attending Globalpress. The pun focused on atomic transaction which relate to actions in a single, indivisible transaction. Apparently, atomic transactions show promise in the next generation of programming languages for multi-core apps. [Same idea as atomicity from database designs. One of Date's principle structures in databases.]

At any rate, Bluespec had a little fun with the phase: “I’m puzzled how they came to this misunderstanding about our technology. We’ve never, nor will we ever, split an atom. The transactions are atomic dag-nabbit – that’s the point!” reacted Rishiyur S. Nikhil, CTO of Bluespec, Inc

Nicely done, Bluespec!

Time travel likely?

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Physists Says Time Travel not only Possible, but Likely.

His book would probably sell more copies if his future self came back for a book signing. <grin> Plus, this was covered by FoxNews. Enough said.

And his name isn’t really “Dr Who.”

Tardis - B&W

GlobalPress coverage

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Lots going on at Globalpress. Great EDA and semiconductor discussions. But, alas, I have no time (or hardware) to do anything but short posts. Look for more later this week, once I return. You can track my micoblog on twitter, if you’re really bored.