Friday, August 31, 2007

We will use no software before its time

Reading about the reluctance of IT departments to move to Vista in the articles Still missing from Vista SP1 fix list: a really good reason to leave XP : Good Morning Silicon Valley and here makes me think of how we treat major new releases of EDA tools. Would you bet your chip on a new tool release named like "7.0"? I sure wouldn't. You gotta wait until -SP1 or later. What's that called? Letting the other guy find the bugs?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to Be ...

... Engineers?

Former EE Times editor Brian Fuller recaps a spontaneous debate between semiconductor panelists regarding what field your children are studying.

It's a touchy subject among engineers. Most of us still love engineering. But, we may have seen career frustrations, especially in the aftershocks of the .com bubble bursting. In America, there's the sense that some small percentage of engineers do fantastically well if they join the right start-up, but most enjoy an above-average though not large lifestyle. It seems like the folks doing really well and making it look easy are the lawyers and MBAs.

Brian presents the two points of view in Greeley's Ghost: Panel dispatches. Peggy the EDA analyst has kids studing hard sciences -- good for her. Jack Harding, former Cadence CEO, has kids studying Liberal Arts. Fair enough (as long as it's a "respectable" Liberal Art ;-). But what I found interesting was his justification:

It's where you sit in the value chain that makes the difference." IBM, he argues, doesn't make money on its technology development. It makes money taking other people's technology and finding ways to make profit on it. It's hiring not engineers but liberal arts and business people. In housing, he added, the contractor takes the risk and gets the margin. The plumbers, framers and electricians he hires (you can't build the house without 'em!) get an hourly wage.

Grudgingly, I'd have to admit there's truth to this. But it's really more of a justification of the value of an executive over an individual contributor. And who says that executives can't be engineers?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Is EE Times Outsourcing Journalism?

From reading earlier posts in this blog, you know that I regularly read EE Times. It's my main publication covering the business and technology of Electronics, Semiconductors, and EDA. I find it more relevant than my IEEE publications!

But, lately I've become concerned about cutbacks.

  • First they downsized the size of the papers (physically), and eliminated that funky old favorite "Immortal Works".
  • Next, they made substantial staff cutbacks, including axing Richard Goering and their Editor in Chief.

Maybe this is the inevitable consequence, but lately I've noticed that many of their features are written by industry sources rather than full-time journalists. In moderation, this isn't a bad thing. Practicing engineers can give a valuable real-world perspective on problems we're seeing and how to solve them. But in excess, I'm worried that EE Times will become a collection of "advertorials". Indeed, some of the articles I read from "industry voices" proceed to describe some very specific, not widely recognized problem, and then lay out a solution: which, coincidentally, happens to be exactly the problem the author's company addresses! This can be self-serving and less than objective.

Let's hope that industry publications will strike a healthy balance between problems encountered by in-the-trenches engineers and objective analysis of the major issues and trends. There is significant value in traditional journalism. What else are you gonna do, get all your news and opinions from blogs??? :-)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Intel Uber Alles?

Intel and the Power of Having a Monopoly - Seeking Alpha is an analysis of Intel's long-term business prospects from an investment advisor's perspective. The author concludes that Intel has a very bright future.

Reading it, it makes it sound as though AMD might was well raise the white flag right now. Intel is the Borg.

I think this analysis is mostly right, but AMD has surprised us once in the past. It will be interesting to watch if they can come back to fight another day.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Cooley Does Gary Smith?

Cooley Does Gary Smith is a webcast with a cheesy title but a nice discussion of emerging EDA tools from DAC this year. It's worth a watch to get ideas for companies to keep an eye on.

I like Gary Smith's perspective, even though I don't agree with all of his picks. His picks I'm not familiar with are interesting, and for the tools that I use or am interested in, I know that his take is pretty good.