Spicing Up SPICE

ProPlus Claims to Do Full SPICE Faster than Fast

by Bryon Moyer

Years ago, my brother was visiting relatives in Austria. As the story goes, the family was aristocratic once upon a time, and, while that didn’t devolve into riches and status (or even awareness of that fact) for my family, it was still part of the relatives’ mindset. Which gave them a sense of entitlement and “natural” superiority.

So when my brother was describing the California climate, within which he had lived for most of his life, and where you go from, oh, say, April through October without rain – a climate distinctly different from central Europe, he got a simple response: “Not possible.” And that was that. No amount of data or convincing would get them to believe such nonsense.


BREXIT, ARM and Uncertainty

It is Too Early to Tell

by Dick Selwood

In the last few days, I heard that Garrison Keeler will no longer be intoning, "It has been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone…" He is retiring. Yes, even in Europe we have heard the Prairie Home Companion, and here in Britain none of the last few weeks have been quiet weeks.

The story goes that Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Communist Leader, when asked about the impact of the French Revolution, said, "It is too early to say." The myth-busting wisdom is that he was talking not about the storming of the Bastille in 1789 and the subsequent events, but the student events of 1968. However, the statement does encompass a great deal of historical wisdom: in particular, we should not rush to predict the consequences of events. Yet there is no shortage of people prepared to rush to judgement on the web within seconds of an event, whether or not they are fully informed.


Treading on Thin Air

Engineering the Second Generation

by Kevin Morris

Somewhere, in a nondescript cubicle in building number umpteen of a multi-billion-dollar multinational multi-technology conglomerate, an engineer sits at a lab bench staring at an eye diagram on six-figure scope. It’s the same every day. Any time he is not in a meeting or writing a status report, he sits in this lab and eats and breathes signal integrity. He has almost no concept of the end product that will incorporate his work. His entire universe is jitter, pre-emphasis, equalization, noise, amplitudes, and bit-error rates. For him, time stands still - in the picoseconds.


Stand (Tall) and Deliver

Verific Language Parsers and Your Startup Success

by Amelia Dalton

Filed under “Don’t Try This at Home” or “Not to be Taken Lightly”, most EDA engineering teams don’t even consider building their own language front end. Most of you will know the name Verific and some probably have used their language parsers a time or two (or twenty), but many of you may not know that Verific also has a robust and comprehensive startup program. In this week’s Fish Fry, Rick Carlson and I chat about how your startup can stand out from the crowd with a little help from Verific. Rick also shares with us some Verific-assisted startup success stories and explains why the giraffe is Verific’s signature giveaway.


A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Photonics May Be the Next Big Thing

by Jim Turley

“Begone, Prince of Insufficient Light!” -- Dogbert

Imagine describing electronics, and electrons, to an 8-year-old. “Electrons are really tiny little particles that move through the wires, see? And they can turn switches on and off, and do stuff, and… uh… perform magic tricks.”


When Galaxies Collide

Synopsys TCAD and Coventor Start to Overlap

by Bryon Moyer

Astronomy bestows lavish breathless anticipation upon one of the great events of the universe: two galaxies running into (or through) each other. The thing is, it happens breathtakingly slowly – each stately galaxy spinning away, the distance between them slowly evaporating. Watching it is something of a sampling exercise: see where they are; nap for a couple of centuries. Wake, see that, yup, they’re a little closer; nap. Wake again, grab a new beer, and doggonnit if they aren’t just a wee bit closer yet. Basketball it’s not.

Well, we may have something of a similar event in play in EDA-land. Although referring simply to two galaxies isn’t quite fair: one, Synopsys, is perhaps more of a galaxy cluster to Coventor’s galaxy. To set the scene, let’s examine the status quo – the gap between the companies – and then we’ll look at each one to see how that gap is closing. And we’ll hopefully do it in a way that doesn’t involve napping.


From Boards to Systems

Mentor PADS Expands Scope

by Kevin Morris

For decades, the various companies who market printed circuit board (PCB) design software had it all wrong. The products available to us were defined not by what the customers actually needed, but by how the EDA companies could maximize revenues. The issue was this: smaller companies and individuals needed capable PCB design tools at a price they could afford. Giant corporations needed cutting-edge capabilities - at just about any price.


Choose Your Own FPGA Adventure

Hard IP, eFPGAs and the Moore's Law Bottleneck

by Amelia Dalton

What if you could have your FPGA cake and eat it too? What if you could modify your RTL post-production and have several variations of an algorithm on the same chip? Let me introduce you to eFPGAs. Yoan Dupret from Menta joins Fish Fry this week to discuss the details of Menta’s eFPGAs, the benefits of embedding field programmable gate array fabric as an IP core, and what process geometries are supported by Menta's eFPGAs. Also this week, Fish Fry welcomes Ramy Iskander from Intento. Ramy and I chat about the challenges of tools in the analog world and how Intento is working on fixing the “Moore’s Law Bottleneck”.


Ansys’s Big Data Platform

SeaScape for SeaHawk and Other Tools to Come

by Bryon Moyer

Hey there! Well it looks like you’ve just launched a full-chip analysis of your project, so… well, you’re gonna have some time on your hands. While you’re awaiting results, let’s talk about some ways that we might reduce that spare time (assuming that you’re not counting on that spare time for getting other things done – or just relaxing).

EDA has always struggled with run times. And that’s because EDA tools have a huge job, taking big designs (some might not seem big today, but in their day, they were) and identifying problems or optimizing or whatever in a timeframe that seems long when it comes to sitting around waiting for results, but is still far faster – and more accurate – than a human (or a bunch of humans) could do.


The Productivity Gap

Lynx Design System Bridges the Breach Between Chip Capacity and Engineering Ability

by Amelia Dalton

He’s been up all night. The row of green and white soda cans marks the passage of time in a steady line across his desk. Everyone else has gone home for the day, but he’s still here, clicking "send to voicemail" on his Mom's call. Nothing, including days without sleep, is going to distract him from his looming deadline. We’ve all been there at least once or twice in our career - burning the engineering candle at both ends, struggling to do more with less. In this week’s Fish Fry, we take a closer look at the “Productivity Gap” that plagues all of us at one time or another. Andy Potemski (Synopsys) and I discuss the void between the enormous capacity of today's chips and our ability to get the design job done. We discuss how the Lynx Design System can make our system design lives a whole lot easier and why the "Productivity Gap" is more prevalent now than ever before.


Promises in the Dark

ASML Ties Up Vital E-Beam Technology with Hermes Acquisition

by Jim Turley

“Knowledge Is Good.” – Emil Faber, founder of Faber College

Data is good. So more data is better. Better enough to spend $3 billion, if you’re running ASML.

Advanced Semiconductor Materials Lithography (ASML) is the huge Dutch-based corporation that makes many of the shiny clean-room machines that produce your chips. You could say the company is big in small. But bigger can always get better, right?


I Love DAC

Austin Hosts Annual Nerdfest

by Kevin Morris

Trade shows are dead. Engineers are highly rational people, and there is no rational justification for squandering valuable travel budget, time, and other business resources to fly from goodness knows where to Austin Texas in June to attend the 53rd annual Design Automation Conference (DAC). Any information one could hope to gather about the latest wave of electronic design automation software could much more easily and efficiently be gleaned from countless online and other sources. With the entire week and thousands of dollars that each attendee blows on an annual DAC pilgrimage, substantial project progress could be posted. Disrupting that critical work schedule to spend time at something as superfluous as DAC makes no sense whatsoever.

DAC revels in not making sense.


DAC to the Future

IoT, Debug, and Verification at DAC 2016

by Amelia Dalton

It's that time again! This week's Fish Fry is coming to y'all from the great state of Texas and the heart of the electronic design ecosystem: the Design Automation Conference in Austin. We're laying out a virtual chuckwagon of DAC bounty. For our first course, we'll fry up some IP with David Rose of UltraSoC. Next, dig in to delicious debug automation with Daniel Hansson of Verifyter. And finally, you can feast on aromatic ASIC/FPGA verification with Louie DeLuna and Krzysztof Szczur of Aldec. You'll also want to stick around for our take on the entertaining bits and bobs at this year's conference and a special News You May Have Missed.


State of Emulation

How Do the Different Emulators Stack Up?

by Bryon Moyer

Late last year, Cadence released their new emulator edition, the Palladium Z1. Seems like that makes it time to take a look at the emulation environment to see where the different providers lie. We recently talked about Mentor’s application approach, but that was a higher-level discussion; we haven’t looked at the actual boxes for a long time.

Looking at the big picture, it would appear that all of the traditional major players are equipped to handle very large SoC designs, with each system having relative strengths and weaknesses. That said, this is a very tight, super-competitive space, with itchy fingers on triggers. So I’m hoping I don’t get anything factually wrong; I’ll be jumped all over. I may, however, still earn wrath since I’m not going to dub any system as the best at everything, which may run afoul of some marketing messaging.


EE Times "Divested"

A Sad Day in the Electronics Trade Press

by Kevin Morris

Animal shelters can be heartbreaking places. Not so much because of the over-enthusiastic questionable-breed puppies bounding energetically around their cages, oblivious to the game of Russian roulette that their caretakers are playing with their lives. No, it’s the ten-year-old one-eyed dog, brought in by the owner who “just doesn’t feel like having a dog anymore” sitting despondently at the back of his cage, the wisdom of experience heavy on his brow, solemnly awaiting his inevitable fate. That’s what makes visiting these places such a gut-wrenching experience.

Today, UBM announced that it was “divesting itself” of its electronic engineering publications, including US and Asian versions of EE Times, EDN, ESM, Embedded, EBM, TechOnline, and Datasheets.com. The publications are being acquired by a subsidiary of Arrow Electronics, Inc. - a worldwide distributor of electronic components.

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