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Archive for August, 2008

Solar Power Problems? – Just Call on a Stellar Engineer

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Great post on Steve Liebson’s site: This Just In: Faster-than-light (FTL) Space Travel is Possible. Zefram Cochrane was Right and Einstein Won’t be Upset About It

Problem is that the power demands of such FTL travel are enormous. But the solution to that problem can be found in a different sci-fi universe, namely, by the Time Lords of Dr Who fame. All that’s needed is a degree in stellar engineering. Omega was at the head of his class in this new engineering discipline. He learned how to manipulate the obits of star systems to control their gravitational interactions. The power from these manipulations then served as the main power source for time travel.

Stellar engineering would take solar power to a whole new dimension!

Here’s a bit of history on stellar engineering – from the Dr Who world:

“Omega was a stellar engineer and High Council member on Gallifrey who developed the Hand of Omega, a remote stellar manipulator which could be used to control the reactions within a star. Using the Hand, Omega performed adjustments on a star near Gallifrey’s in an attempt to provide a power source for the time travel experiments he conducted with Rassilon. However, Omega was thought killed in the resulting supernova, which then collapsed into a black hole.

Rassilon subsequently captured the nucleus of the black hole and used its power to perfect time travel technology, turning his people into Time Lords. Rassilon then took control of Gallifrey as Lord President. The nucleus eventually became known as the Eye of Harmony, and Omega’s name passed into heroic legend.”

Who needs publishers?

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Even book publishers are asking this question: Who Needs Publishers?

But look where this article comes from –> The Library Trends journal!

We are not alone, my friends. The technology trade journal business is just one of many struggling surfers riding the crest of a digital wave that is washing over the entire land. This is not a biblical flood, but you best know how to swim.

Financial Markets Yawn as Cadence-Mentor Ordeal Ends

Friday, August 15th, 2008

It’s official: Cadence has dropped the bid to take-over Mentor. Primary reasons:

  • Cadence couldn’t raise enough debt money
  • FTC (Federal Trade) indicated that the regulatory review may take awhile.

Most folks in the EDA community are breathing a collective sigh of relief. The merging of these two companies did not make much sense from either a technology or end-user perspective.

What is the response of the financial community? Its more of a yawn than a sigh since the acquisition offer was a mere $1.6 to $2billion, depending on the price per share. To put this in perspective, consider the recent Anheuser-Busch buyout by InBev for $52 billion.

What does it mean for the future of EDA? Cadence’s withdrawal of the bid for Mentor was due as much to misleading (tho not illegal) accounting practices as to anything else. But I think the event will mark the last time one of the big three tries to take over one another. It’s more likely that an outside player will acquire one of the big three. (see previous blog)

One final observation: The only growth path for a maturing (read “fewer new users?) EDA industry is innovation. Yes, I know “innovation? has become a cliché used by the insightful and clueless alike. So let me clarify: I’m using the word to mean truly innovative technologies as well as strategic acquisitions in the revenue generating supply chain side of the EDA and semiconductor industries.

But even with remarkable strides in innovation, the EDA industry seems unlikely to grow much larger. Not because there isn’t a market to grow into – in the semiconductor or package- and board-level industries – but because those markets are already populated with competitors.

–> Mike Rogoway’s Silicon Forest blog has a nice summary of financials

What does Impinj, Virage and Intel have in common?

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Impinj has certainly gone through a lot of changes in the last couple of months. The company, which asserts itself as the “leading UHF Gen 2 radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions provider,” has recently changed its technology focus. Consider the following:

  • July 2008: Impinj acquired Intel’s RFID operation. This business was part of Intel’s R&D effort, specifically its New Business Initiatives (NBI) incubator
  • June 2008: Virage Logic acquires Impinj’s Logic Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) IP business

Is there more changes in store for Impinj?

When is a blog not a blog?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

OK, I’ve just got to get this off my mind: What is a workable definition of a blog? Or more to the point, when is a blog not a blog?

Consider the following:

> John Cooley now labels his compilations (insightful as they are) as a “blog.” Yet John himself didn’t really think he was a blogger during the discussion at the recent DaC’08 Blogger BoF.

> Just found out that Cadence has a blog site with a ton of bloggers. When did that happen? (Personal note to Cadence: Your registration process for blog commenters is too lengthy and cumbersome. Compare it to Synopsys, which has been going for the last year or so and is very easy to leave comments.)

What’s my point? It’s the point I was trying to make at the Dac Blogger BoF event, namely: What is the basic definition, the minimal acceptance criteria for a blog site? Simple enough question, but difficult to answer since it spawns a number of related questions such as:

> Is a blog just the aimless ramblings of its author, or is it a vehicle for the free exchange of ideas without filtering or compilation and in a timely manner?

> What is the difference between a company blog and a blog on an independent publishing site (such as Chip Design or EDN)? Yes, there really is a difference.

Well, that’s all for now. I feel much better for getting this down. Been on my mind for a while. Nite, all.

Systems Beyond EDA’s ESL

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

The question often begins as follows: “Do you know of any ESL-like tools that would apply to a larger system that incorporates mechanical, electrical, HW, and SW.”

Great question! One that probably can not be answer by an EDA person, or anyone else that has a niche view. Likewise, it’s not a question that can be answered by the high-level, domain-independent tools, that is, System Engineering Tools like Slate, Core, Doors, etc. It’s analogous to the challenges – in our EDA world – of linking the worlds of algorithmic and RTL development. It’s a problem of too many layers of abstraction.

In the case of high level systems engineering tools like Slate, Core, and others, the problem is that all you can do at such a high level is establish an overall architecture then drill down with point tools for rqmts, hw-sw partitioning, etc. This was one of the problem that I faced many years ago while working for the DoE superfund clean-up site: How to go from a very high level problem discussions and perceptions from stakeholders, general public, lawyers, etc, to a traceable/verifiable solution implementation in hardware, software, peopleware, mechanical systems, etc. I should really talk more about that experience, since it’s very applicable here. But I don’t want to stray too far afield for this blog entry, that is , I want to focus on implementations that result in HW and SW.

To that end, earlier this year I directed my iDesign editor (Clive Maxfield) to focus exclusively on chip-package-board issues, more from an electronics viewpoint than a hw-sw division. Max wrote a great piece to initiate the new chip-package-board direction for iDesign.

This issue of subsystem views and tools (i.e., chip vs board vs module vs complete product) remains a challenge. EDA companies like Cadence, Synposys and Mentor are all trying to find ways to address chip-package-board level designs, but this is already the domain of big companies like Autodesk and Dassault Systems, among others:

“An acquisition of Cadence by AutoDesk – makers of AutoCAD – does make sense. Cadence makes several good point tools that would complement AutoCAD’s existing product engines, e.g., in the aircraft, automotive and multimedia markets. AutoCAD has all the 3D modeling, rendering and packaging tools that are coveted by the major EDA companies. AutoCAD is truly a big fish with around $4 ½ B in sales and a market cap of $9B. This makes AutoCAD roughly four times the size of Cadence. So an acquisition of Cadence makes both technical and financial sense.”

The problem of chip-package-board design is a big one – bigger than ESL. But the need for a solution is just as pressing. Any thoughts?