Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nice Work If You Can Get It

Chris Edwards' blog post The $8m goodbye describes last-minute employment contract sweeteners given the departing Cadence executive team, including the CEO: totalling that lot up, it will cost Cadence in the region of $8m cash to say goodbye to the bulk of its former senior executive team.

Can you say Golden Parachute? I guess as long as any laid-off rank & file workers will be offered similar terms, this is fine. That'll be happening, right?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

Cadence was supposed to announce quarterly financial results this afternoon, but they've found some "revenue recognition" questions resulting in a postponement: Cadence Announces Accounting Review and Postpones Release of Third Quarter 2008 Financial Results and Webcast

More ominously, there is wide speculation about job cuts coming to Cadence. Actually, the only "speculation" seems to be how bad it will be, whether 10-15% or as much as 25%. Scenarios are describe in Analysis: With Fister gone, Cadence layoffs may be next.

I don't know how the mood is outside of Silicon Valley or the US, but there's definitely a pallor over our industry and the economy in general. It seems like most all the EDA companies have had cuts or are planning them, and things aren't much better for their semiconductor-designing customers. At best, some companies are doing very selective hiring.

Good luck to all, and let's hope this rough spot doesn't become a quagmire.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No More Shoe Jokes for EDA

EDA pundits "won't have Mike Fister to kick around any more", as you can see by these changes afoot at Cadence.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

AMD Announces Fabless Plan (finally!)

After months (years?) of speculation, AMD finally announced details of its plan to go fabless. Or is it Asset-Light? Or Asset-Smart? Let's just call it fabless, like everyone else in the industry. Read the details in A.M.D. to Split Into Two Operations - Amidst a battered overall market, AMD shares had a nice pop today:

So AMD is going to get a cash injection from a middle east "sovereign wealth" fund, plus a commitment to further invest in the fabs that they will jointly own. This is a good short-term financial shot in the arm.

We know that AMD can compete with Intel on design. The challenge has always been, how much of a disadvantage do they suffer by not having the most advanced fabs? This will be the long-term challenge, to see how well the JV will be able to compete with Intel's fab muscle as we go below 40nm and use exotic recipes such as "High-K Metal Gate". At least AMD will live to fight another day.

Update: For some skepticism on the added value and future prospects of the plan, see the story and comments under Who Benefits From A.M.D.’s Financial Engineering? - Bits Blog -

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Herb Reiter Tells the History of PrimeTime

In SKMurphy--Herb Reiter Interview on Fostering Static Timing Analysis Adoption, Herb Reiter talks about his career through the formative years of ASIC and EDA businesses. At Synopsys, he was instrumental in helping to define PrimeTime, and in particular in ensuring that PrimeTime was adopted and supported by the very influential ASIC vendors.

Looking back, times were simpler for EDA vendors when there were dominant ASIC vendors to define design methodology. Now, with the proliferation of fabless semiconductor design houses and the COT (customer owned tooling) hand-off model, it's harder to focus on a few key adopters, get their "sign-off certified" blessing, and reap the rewards as their customers flock to the anointed tools.

We know the result of the story--PrimeTime is the de facto standard static timing tool in the industry, and has been for over 10 years. Although in some respects PrimeTime is showing its age and could be vulnerable to competition, it is one of Synopsys' best-designed, most flexible, and robust tools.

On a personal note, I've known Herb Reiter since those MOTIVE and PrimeTime days, and he's a real professional and a gentleman. He really does seek to foster "win-win" relationships between his EDA clients and chip design companies. It's nice to see him getting publicity, and the opportunity to shed light on the development and roll-out of successful EDA products.