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Something M-azing This Way Comes

I’m a simple man. It’s very kind of you to say that you agree with everything I just said, but I hadn’t fully finished my thought. What I was going to say was that I’m a simple man and I like a simple story. Sometimes I finish an interview with someone and—as soon as the video conference call closes—I burst into tears and/or maniacal laughter (figuratively, not literally, you understand… although sometimes it’s been a close call). … Read More → "Something M-azing This Way Comes"

A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 5: The Acquisition Era

EDA’s acquisition era arrived close on the heels of the EDA era. SDA merged with ECAD to form Cadence in 1987, and the new company’s first acquisition was in 1989. The company has made nearly 40 acquisitions to date. Synopsys incorporated in 1986, and its first acquisition was in 1990. The company has made more than 100 acquisitions to date. Mentor Graphics metamorphosed from a dying CAE company into a vibrant EDA company around 1993, and its first post-metamorphosis acquisition was in 1997. The company made at least 15 acquisitions before being acquired itself in 2017 by Siemens. All three of these leading EDA companies … Read More → "A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 5: The Acquisition Era"

Affordable Rack-Mount Quantum Computers Are Here!

As I may have mentioned on occasion, when it comes to quantum computing, one of my favorite quotes comes from the Night Watch tome of Terry Pratchett Discworld series. The quote in question reads as follows: “It’s very hard to talk quantum using a language originally designed to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is.” You can’t argue with logic like that.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a conversation with a real-world incarnation of Dr. Sheldon … Read More → "Affordable Rack-Mount Quantum Computers Are Here!"

A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 4: Cadence, Synopsys, and Mentor Graphics – The EDA Era

Rising complexity drove the creation of ever-more-powerful tools for electronic design. When circuit board and IC layouts escaped the bounds of pencil, paper, and manual dexterity, CAD tools from Applicon, Calma, and Computervision appeared. When polygon representations no longer sufficed as the first gate arrays appeared, CAE tools from Daisy, Mentor, and Valid appeared. These CAE companies attempted to provide all-in-one design suites for ICs and circuit boards. However, Moore’s Law drove IC complexity far beyond the abilities of these CAE design tool suites. More complex ICs demanded even more refined tools for logic simulation, timing … Read More → "A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 4: Cadence, Synopsys, and Mentor Graphics – The EDA Era"

Understanding and Optimizing SoC Hardware Performance

Are you involved in developing SoCs? Are you banging your head against the wall, desperately trying to determine why you aren’t obtaining the performance promised by the providers of your processor, interconnect, and DDR memory controller IPs? Do I have good news for you? (Spoiler alert. The answer to the last question is a resounding “Yes!”)

In many ways I envy the young engineers who are coming up today because they have such awesome technologies to play with. On the hardware side, they can create sophisticated SoCs containing billions … Read More → "Understanding and Optimizing SoC Hardware Performance"

AMD Rocks with New Versal Gen 2 AI Edge SoC FPGAs

The awesome new AMD devices to which I’ve just been introduced have sparked a trip down memory lane (I know you’re surprised, because I pride myself on my laser-like focus that prevents me from wandering off into the weeds). I remember the 1970s and early 1980s when we thought the simple programmable logic devices (PLDs) of the time were so cool. Those were heady days when chip manufacturers tried to outdo each other by constantly coming up with new architectures based on different incarnations of AND and OR arrays. The chips’ creators also had lots … Read More → "AMD Rocks with New Versal Gen 2 AI Edge SoC FPGAs"

A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 3: Daisy, Valid, and Mentor Graphics – The CAE Era

By the end of the 1970s, the leading CAD companies, including Calma, Applicon, and Computervision had started to lose interest in the electronics market and turned to mechanical CAD. Quite possibly, this lack of interest reflected the demand by electronics and semiconductor companies for something more than efficient drafting systems. The drawings produced by CAD systems were fully capable of producing photomasks for circuit boards and ICs, but these systems understood polygons. They had no comprehension of the electronics these polygons represented. CAD systems might know the difference between a 14- and a 40-pin DIP, but they … Read More → "A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 3: Daisy, Valid, and Mentor Graphics – The CAE Era"

Will the Renesas RZ/V2H MPU Dominate Embedded AI Vision Applications?

I grew up in the age of 8-bit microprocessor units (MPUs). Consider the MOS Technology 6502, which was introduced in 1975, for example. This was the year I graduated from high school. I was 18 years old, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and totally clueless as to the ways of the world (to know me was to love me—this was long before I became the curmudgeonly, battered, bitter, broken man you see before you now).

In addition to its 8-bit data bus, the 6502 had a 16-bit data bus, thereby allowing it to address 64kB of memory. Based on … Read More → "Will the Renesas RZ/V2H MPU Dominate Embedded AI Vision Applications?"

A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 2: Calma, Applicon, Computervision, and the CAD Era

Commercial EDA companies started to appear in the 1960s, and a trend of sorts was set. In each new, more advanced generation of EDA tools, three companies tended to dominate. The first EDA generation was the era of digitization. Computers and digitizers started to displace drafting tables and mechanical drafting machines in all engineering disciplines including electrical and electronic engineering. The dominant EDA trio in this CAD (Computer Aided Design or Computer Aided Drafting) era consisted of Calma, Computervision, and Applicon.

Before delving into the history of these three pioneering companies, it’s … Read More → "A Brief and Personal History of EDA, Part 2: Calma, Applicon, Computervision, and the CAD Era"

Controlling the World with Raspberry Pi

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but on the off chance you’ve forgotten, I graduated from university in 1980. My degree was in Control Engineering. This was based on a core of math (oh, so much math), with “surrounding” subjects of electronics, mechanics, and hydraulics/fluidics.

In those days, most of the control algorithms with which I worked were things like proportional-integral-derivative (PID), the implementations of which were analog in nature. The only computer that physically resided in the engineering department was an analog monster that was not dissimilar … Read More → "Controlling the World with Raspberry Pi"

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