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Archive for November, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving All!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Hope everyone has a relaxing and memorable holiday, regardless of your cultural or religious background. We all have something for which we are thankful.

BTW: One of my first blog posts on WordPress – forget what we used before – was around the Thanksgiving 2006 time frame.

Why Doesn’t Our DAC Look Like This?

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Kaufman - Citizen Kane styleCheck out this YouTube Video with the tantalizing title: DAC’08 Teaser Montage.  This is the kind of teaser our DAC (Design Automation Conference) should run. To their credit, the folks at EDAC have taken a step in that direction with the video created for the recent Kaufman Awards event. The “Kaufman” video – the creative idea of Ed Sperling – was based on one of the great Orson Welles’s movie, Citizen Kane.

Don’t get me wrong! We – the technical community – need videos that convey concise information about the latest technology and trends. But we – as engineers, especially the younger engineering community – need videos that inspire and express our creative side, too. After all, most of us worked hard through engineering school because we wanted to create, to build new and useful technology. Why not show the world our good works through the medium of the masses – video!

EDA Bloggers’ Birds-of-a-Feather

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

This blogger sessions are must-attend event! If you want to learn something about blogging plus see first hand the growing pains that publishers, corporations and bloggers are facing, then be sure to attend this event. Many thanks to Sean Murphy and company for organizing this follow-up to the unexpectly popular EDA Blogger’s BoF at DAC of last year – “Blogging Event Spurs Comments

A Quick Look at Embedded Memory Trends

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Here’s another piece in my “quick look” series that provides a glimpse at the Chip Design & partner trends database. This database represents over 44K unique chip design architectural investigations collected since 1995.

This time, my focus is on embedded (on-chip) memory trends. These “quick looks” are not intended as rigorous technology reports, but rather as a glimpse  – another datapoint -  to be considered. Often, these “quick looks” do lead to future articles on the subject (depending upon the interest and response from readers). So with those caveats, let’s look at embedded memory.

From a weighted-average trend-line standpoint, embedded-memory usage actually exhibits a dip in recent quarters.  After seeming to average around 2.2Mbit, the trend line seems to be approaching 1.5Mbits.

For embedded memory usage, less than 1.0 Mbit is the sweet spot.

What does this all mean? Jordan Selburn, Principal Analyst for Semiconductor Design at iSuppli, shared these thoughts:

iSuppli data (from the Design Content Database) shows that, despite the ongoing decline in ASSP/ASIC design activity, the number of designs with embedded memory – particularly logic non-volatile memory and embedded DRAM – continues to increase. While the number of embedded DRAM ASSPs/ASICs may be only a relatively small portion of the overall number of chips being designed, these chips have a number of opportunities in the consumer space, especially mobile video, and in networking applications.

What do you think?

So, You Want to be a Chip Designer?

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Readers:  I need your help! A young graduate has approached me with basic questions about a career in the chip design profession, e.g., needed skills, most popular tools/programs, list of books that provide a good introduction to the field and more (see below). While I have my own answers to these questions, I’m sure this future chip designer would greatly benefit from your answers as well. Thx, all! – John Blyler, EiC

November 7, 2008:  Hi Mr. Blyler. I have some questions about becoming a chip designer. I know that you are very busy man but I think you can point me on the right direction. I have a BS in Math: Computer Science. On December I’ll finish as second BS in Electrical Engineer from the same university and for the last 4 years I have work as a Systems Administrator for a medical science group on the university.

I would like to start a career as a chip designer but don’t know where to start. I have look at job description for this career at Intel and AMD but they ask for lots of experience (which I don’t have). My Engineering degree is more based on power and control design. I know that many of this material are discussed at a Masters Degree level, but I was wondering if I could something in this field with my current education?

I would also like to know:
> What skill can help on this field? (I already know C/ C++)
> Any books you suggest I could read?  (Please keep in mind I don’t have much knowledge on this field)
> Which jobs I should be looking for to obtain experience from?
> Which tools and programs I should know?

I really appreciate you help with this and give my thanks to you in advance.

Cadence Eliminates at least 12% of Workforce

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

My friend on the inside was right; Wednesday was the day, judging by today’s news release. Cadence expects to eliminate, “at least 625 full-time positions, representing 12% of its global employee base, plus a substantial number of contractors and consultants.” Sources tell me this number will be closer to 1,000 by Dec’08. And this number is on top of quieter layoffs that have occurred since the summer.

My heart goes out to all those seasoned and skilled professionals who lost their jobs. I hope the new management – as yet to be announced – will be able to turn Cadence around. It’s certainly possible, but time is running out as the EDA industry continues to consolidate.

Mars Phoenix Twitter-style epitaph contest

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Here’s a clever idea from Wired editor and fellow-Twitter Alex Madrigal: “R.I.P. @MarsPhoenix: The Twitter Epitaph Contest” To quote from Alex:

NASA will make one last try to power the lander up this weekend, but it’s likely that within days, Mars Phoenix’s life will come to an end.

To mark this exciting, crowd-pleasing, Tweeting trip to the Martian north pole, we thought it’d be fun to mark the occasion with a Mars Phoenix Twitter-style epitaph contest. That means that these particular virtual headstones must be under 140 characters. Beyond that, it’s up to you how you want to memorialize the mission.

You have until Sunday (Nov 9th) to post your epitaph.

You can follow both Alex and yours truly on Twitter.