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Archive for January, 2009

Cadence Experiences Management Changes – Again

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Ted in the Chad Tucker band

Long-time Cadence CTO – Ted Vucurevich – will be leaving. The reasons behind his departure may give clues to Cadence’s future technology direction.

The departure of Vucurevich, Cadence’s tech savvy and personable CTO, may be nothing more than it appears. He has been with Cadence for 16 years during which time he established his reputation as both a technology expert and engaging speaker – the latter being something of a rarity in Cadence’s upper echelon of leaders.

Still, the timing of his leaving and the choice for his replacement may reveal much about Cadence’s short-term technology roadmap. Several industry observers have suggested Vucurevich needed a change of scenery. This is hardly surprising because he’s been with the company for the last 16 years – a long time to be in one place. But the desire for change may also be the result of Cadence’s continuing emphasis on financials over technology, as demonstrated by the recent appointment of yet another financial CEO, this time a VC – Lip-Bu Tan. It’s worth noting that Cadence’s competition – Mentor and Synopsys – still maintain CEOs with predominately technical backgrounds.

Further clues to Cadence’s near-term technology roadmap also can be gleaned from the appointment of Vucurevich’s direct replacement, Charlie Huang. Currently Cadence’s senior VP and chief strategy officer, Huang will be the acting CTO. “Charlie is well known in both the EDA entrepreneur and technical circles,” noted Adolph Hunter, Cadence’s VP of Corporate Marketing. His past experiences includes, among other things, serving as a general partner at Telos Venture Partners and – on the technical side – being the co-founder of CadMOS Design Technology and VP of R&D at EPIC Design Technology.

But here’s the catch: Both of these startups – CadMOS and EPIC – are very device-specific in nature, requiring a deep grounding in physics, material properties and device behavior. This suggests a continued focus on custom design at Cadence, as opposed to the broader and application specific system-level focus. (Xilinx’s upcoming announcement gives further credence to the trend toward application-specific designs.) The challenge in a declining economy is that most companies can no longer afford custom designs. Instead, designers will focus on commodity components doing system-level applications.

Am I suggesting that Cadence is abandoning ESL, verification and related “systems” markets? Certainly not, as demonstrated in a recent meeting with Ran Avinun, group director of marketing for system design and verification. Ran is another veteran of the EDA industry whose system background and focus will help Cadence take advantage of current design trends.

Vucurevich’s departure is just another sign of the struggles going on within Cadence.  But to the EDA and semiconductor community at large, it means that we’ve lost one of our more engaging and personable members – at least, for now. Hopefully, he will still be engaging the community in his other role as lead guitarist for the Chad Tucker band. Rock on, Ted!

The Media is Dying? Catchy, But Inaccurate.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

This is just one of the many sites that I follow: The Media is Dying This site recently received attention from Utne Reader.

I follow this site and similar ones not to be depressed but to gain a larger sense for what is happening to the entire media industry, beyond the niche of technology print/online pubs. Without a clear view of the bigger picture, it’s difficult to see the major trends as well as to discern how others are dealing with these changes. Already if learned that the key differentiates to survival are economies-of-scale, continued meaningful content and a living community environment in which to deliver that content.

The media isn’t really dying, but evolving, morphing into something else. This process is disruptive, agonizing and terribly painful for the editors, reporters and everyone in the publishing business. But the change has been coming for a long time now, so no one should be surprised. All we can hope to do is learn the new rules of this evolving game as quickly as possible. Believe Darwin referred to that as “adapability.”

The caterpillar we once called media is undergoing a crystallis into – I hope – something better. Perhaps something that can fly high enough to see the bigger picture and accurately share that view with others.

Cadence CTO Departs? Yes – It’s True.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Ted Vucurevich at CDNLive Green Panel

Timeline: Wednesday, Jan 28, 2008:

11:14  AM Talked with Adolph Hunter, Cadence’s VP of Corporate Marketing and Ronald May, Group Director of Public Relations. Adoply confirmed Ted’s departure within the next few weeks, during which time Ted would be wrapping up some projects and transitioning everything to his replacement.

How do you replace someone as sharp, credible and engaging as Ted Vucurevich, who has been with Cadence for the last 16 years? By pulling from the best people you have. Toward this end, Adolph explained that Charlie Huang, currently Cadence’s Senior VP and Chief Strategy Officer, will be the acting CTO. Charlie is well known in both the EDA entrepreneur and technical circles. His past experiences includes, among others, serving as a General Partner at Telos Venture Partners and – on the technical side – being the co-founder of CadMOS Design Technology and VP of R&D at EPIC Design Technology.

As acting CTO, Charlie will be working with Cadence’s Chi-Ping Hsu, Senior VP of R&D for the Implementation Products Group and Nimish Modi, Senior VP of R&D for the Front End Group.

When asked if Ted’s depart was a fall out from Cadence’s sizeable layoffs last November 2008, Adolph could not offer much insight. He noted that all parts of the semiconductor industry are undergoing layoffs, including IBM, Sun, Applied Materials, and many others. “When Cadence does have layoffs, all parts of the business are examined and all parts of the company feel some impact. But Cadences hasn’t dropped any particular product line or technology area. So I can not im

age that any one cut lead to Ted’s decision to leave,” explained Adolph.

In closing, Adolph said that everyone at Cadence was sorry to see Ted leave. “He’s extremely credible and popular with employees and customers alike. So everyone here wishes him the best in what he is going to go on to do.”

As do we all.

9:50 AM Just received confirmation of Ted Vucurevich’s depart from Cadence. (Yes, Karen, word does travel fast on Web 2.0). Wonder if Ted had a choice in this decision? And will he be seeing “purple” i

n the near future? Regardless, I wish him well.

Interesting side note: Clothbot tells me that only a few days earlier, Ted had updated his LinkedIn profile. This lends credence to what I call the “LinkedIn effect,” namely, that you only hear from contact just prior to a career change.

9:30AM Rumor mill whispers that Cadence’s Ted Vucurevich is no longer the CTO at Cadence. Any confirmation? I’ll miss Ted, if the rumor is true. But a professional of his talents won’t have problems finding his next adventure.

System-Level Design Community Gains Visibility as New Media

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Thanks to Brian Fuller’s recent blog post: Publishing’s Changing Landscape – and PR’s Response in which he mentions the design communities that Ed Sperling and I have been creating and growing for the last 6 months. Ed’s actually been working on the business model upon which these portals are based for some time now.

The trends chart the Brian highlights from is useful, though a bit misleading since the System-Level Design (SLD) community has a larger following than indicated – almost 3X larger. But doesn’t track subcategory sites and SLD is a subcategory under the Chip Design website. So the numbers get skewed. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Brian’s friend – Bob Beachler, VP of Marketing at Stream – is wary of “digital/media ROI.”

Chip Design vs GeekEDA - Data misleading

Still, the trends are good for our community. And to get noticed by the venerable Mr Fuller is, well, just icing on the cake.

System-Level Design Community Makes MSNBC

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Fantastic! The MarketWire press release for our site made it to the business page of MSNBC: System-Level Design Community Readership Grows by 33 Percent

Xilinx’s Programmable Imperative

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Look for news about Xilinx’s technology roadmap in the near future. What I can say is that they are posed to reap the following benefits:
> Lower chip process nodes means lower power, better performance, smaller size. This is a no-brainer.
> Continued – perhaps even accelerated – growth into traditional ASIC markets, including standard ASIC products thanks to increase lower-node manufacturing ASIC costs; consolidation of semi industry; and niche, fast appearing consumer niche markets.

This is the first time that I’ve heard Moshi Gavrielov, Xilinx CEO, speak before an audience. Impressive, especially since he’s an engineer as well, with a background in semiconductor world and EDA.

Presentation almost done. Soon is will be time for the “cool apps” portion of the event. But here is a teaser: Air graffitti light imaging in real-time through the video camera.

Xilinx enabled air graffitti

BTW: Great to see that Michael Santarini – formerly with EETimes – is doing well as Editor in Chief of Xilinx’s XCell Journal.

Michael Santarini at Xilinx presentation

Engineers And Social Media – The Untold Story

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Are engineers really as inept and socially handicapped as many would believe?

It’s popular to put down engineers as geeky and socially inept. In some cases, this stereotype is true. But would you be surprised to learn that yesterday’s engineers were the pioneers of social media—tools and usage—as we know it today?

It’s true. Social media enablers like Twitter, Facebook, Google search and the like had their first prototypes long before the Internet (orginally the ARPAnet) became the Web. The only major difference was the interface. Before Mosaic, the first browser, was available and back when the Internet was first being formed only those who understood the basics of that most cherished of languages—Unix—were admitted to the network.

So how did engineers, the pioneers of social media, communicate on the early Internet? Let’s say you wanted to Twitter a friend, i.e. send him/her a one sentence message. You simply used the “Talk” utility on your DEC VT100 terminal and typed in your message: @TALK (Chris) Where are you going for lunch? Instantly, the message would appear on your friend’s screen. Each message was limited to 80 characters, whereas today’s Twitter is limited to 140 characters.

For longer messages, similar to today’s Instant Messengers, you could use Telnet to open a text application (remember the VI editor?) pull up a file you had written. A little later on, you could use Usenet to post threaded discussions on the Internet. Or you could dial up a low baud rate modem on the land-line phone to communicate via a bulletin board.

Early file searches were performed using the Unix command GREP – global / regular expression / print. And this was a big deal, because the alternative to “grepping” was actually reading through print documentation. [If you have copious spare time, you might want to read a short column I wrote for the IEEE back in ’98 called: “You Can’t GREP Dead Trees.”

These are just a few examples of how engineers were the creators and first active participant in what is now known as social media. Sadly, some of these pioneering engineers seem to have forgotten their legacy. For example, Robert Lucky’s column in the Jan’09 edition of IEEE Spectrum is entitled: “To Twitter or Not to Twitter.” The piece is well-written, insightful and funny, as is his style. And I’ve ready Lucky’s column for almost as long as I’ve been an engineer. But he falls into the trap that so many of us do as we get older. Instead of immersing himself in something new, he talks around and about the problem. Instead of using Twitter, which is a very short messaging system, to really learn about it, he dismisses this latest of social media tools as irrelevant. But academic examination is no substitute for raw experience.

Personally, I find it more useful to experiment with as many new engagement tools as possible. How else can I understand where the world of media—print, online, etc.—is really heading? But the practical engineer in me also understands the time commitment required by these applications. Thus, to aid colleagues and readers, here are my “game cheats” on 10 of today’s most popular social media applications (in no particular order).

1. Blogs: Web logs are the new “voice of the people.” Some are very good, many are not. Once you find those blogs that you enjoy reading, make sure they utilize RSS feeds.

2. RSS: A convenient way to deliver regularly changing Web content like blogs, articles from your favorite authors, news, etc. The headlines from all of these content sources are then views in an RSS reader from Yahoo, Google, etc. Here’s but one example of the feed: Chip Design RSS

3. Twitter: Like DEC VT100 “Talk.” Limited to 140 characters. Use it to drive traffic to your blog and to have real-time exchanges with new friends. Check out Dark_Faust on Twitter.

4. Facebook: Think of this as a repository for lots of little Java applications, most of which seem pleasant but absurd like sending Karma to someone. Still, Facebook is a nice way to learn about online groups and share pictures.

5. Linkedin and Plaxo: These are useful for staying in touch with work buddies once you have all been laid off. About the only time anyone sends me a message on these application is when they are about to be let go. I call this the “LinkedIn Effect.” Sad

6. Ning: It’s a Zen sort of thing for those who want to create their own social network. Just what we need – even more social networks.

7. Instant Messenger: This is a great way to send either short or long real-time messages to colleagues while at work. Just keep you list of IM contacts small or it will be overwhelming.

8. BlackBoard: If you’re taking any of my online engineering courses at PSU, then you know that today’s online course managements systems are a whole collection of social media applications.

9. YouTube: Anyone with a computer at work knows about YouTube.

10. Podcasts: Audio-only versions of YouTube. Fun to listen to while sitting on the plane.

Today’s Internet is full of social media experiments that actually started many years ago. Since most of these experiments are still free, I suggest participating in as many as time and interest permit.

Free counter and web stats

Numbers Support Downturn – for now

Friday, January 16th, 2009

The numbers don’t look great for cummulative Dec’08 chip design investigations – precusors to actual chip design starts in the next 6 to 9 months (see chart). The actual numbers have decrease and the rolling average is definitely sloping down, which means a tendanace to continue the decline into next month.

I encourage you to note that December and January are typically “down” times for the architecturing of new chip products. The trend to watch closely is the rolling average for the Jan09 data, which I’ll publish once available.