Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Richard Returns, Reports on TSMC

Two quick points today:
  1. Richard Goering (noted EDA journalist) is back online! He's been covering EDA for a long time and has interesting and credible insights. He's writing a blog for Cadence at Industry Insights.
  2. I went to the TSMC Technology Symposium in San Jose last week. I've been going for the last few years. These are great for getting road maps of silicon process and design technologies (TSMC Reference Flow). I wasn't sure how much information I could share from the day, but Richard has solved my problem by writing a comprehensive report TSMC Views R&D As Ticket Out Of Recession.

    One announcement that I'd like to call attention to is TSMC's integrated sign-off flow. I'd like to take a look at it. It's initially created for 65nm sign-off, and sounds like a Reference Flow on steroids. Not only are there "approved" tools, but also recommended scripts (which EDA vendors also provide) and other libraries and technology files -- apparently a complete package. I'm curious to see how it differs from what we currently use. I might learn some new tricks.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Scaling, Integration and the 3D Shuffle

Chris Edwards wrote a great look at the future of semiconductor scaling in The 3D shuffle - Shrinking Violence Blog.

I'm seeing more and more about 3D packaging, using emerging technologies such as Through Silicon Vias (TSV). Might this solve some of the thorny integration issues people are expecting? If 3D is a good answer for Logic + Memory, it may also be a good match for CPU + GPU. Already, in the CPU space, we're seeing a fair amount of package-level multicore integration, rather than "natively" putting all the cores on a single die. For example, check out AMD No Longer Feels the Need to Go “Native” .

Monday, April 20, 2009

Why Oracle Bought Sun?

You heard it here second. Lou Covey blogged in State of the Media: Oracle. Sun. Brilliant. that Oracle's play for Sun is part of a scheme to break into the Hardware or (shudder) EDA industries!

It's a provocative theory, but would leave me very, very surprised if that were Oracle's motivation. Perhaps they could improve the financials of the EDA business, or juice up EDA's database architectures. But more likely, it seems to me is that Oracle is looking for control of software assets like Java and MySQL. The server and chip businesses just seem way beyond Oracle's core competencies. I'd guess those may be spun off or otherwise de-emphasized.

5/7 Larry says they're keeping all the hardware business.

Friday, April 17, 2009

President Obama Emphasizes Engineers' Contributions

President Obama gave a speech this week providing a vision for the American economy. He outlined "pillars" of a new economy built "on rock".

I was heartened to hear the President's recognition of the value of scientists and engineers, and their abilities to contribute to a sound economy:

one of the changes that I would like to see — and I’m going to be talking about this in weeks to come — is once again seeing our best and our brightest commit themselves to making things — engineers, scientists, innovators. For so long, we have placed at the top of our pinnacle folks who can manipulate numbers and engage in complex financial calculations. And that’s good, we need some of that. But you know what we can really use is some more scientists and some more engineers, who are building and making things that we can export to other countries.

-- The Obama Speech on the Economy - Capital Journal - WSJ

Searching for Silicon Valley

(New York Times photo)

Interested in visiting Silicon Valley, or brushing up on your technology industry history? Check out American Journeys - Searching for Silicon Valley; a Place and a State of Mind from the New York Times.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nano Edutainment

UC Berkeley's considerable contributions to science and engineering range from the creation of SPICE to the The Nano Song Go Bears!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Happy Birthday SPICE

Another day, another birthday. Coming soon is a big one, for SPICE [Wikipedia], one of the very first EDA programs. It is still vibrant and vital today, after 36 years of the semiconductor revolution.

Read more about its history and how it works in Circuit Simulation - Part One - SPICE Turns Thirty-Six. It's a nice article where you will either learn a little circuit theory, or have flashbacks of courses you took a long time ago. I used to be able to do these equations in my sleep. Let's not talk about my "current" capability.

If you'd like to learn more about SPICE, look for the blogger to post more parts in his series. There's also The SPICE Book, authored by one of the SPICE developers.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Happy Birthday RFC

How the Internet Got Its Rules - NYTimes.com celebrates a successful collaboration model that's 40 years old: RFC, or Request for Comments.
these humble documents shape the Internet’s inner workings and have played a significant role in its success

What history! What an achievment! It represents the best of engineering culture, to have an open dialogue to craft the best solution (brainstormimg + compromise). And, it only leaves me wondering, why can't we have more true collaborative standards in our industry?

Monday, April 06, 2009

Why Functional Programming Matters

I've always been a wannabe hardcore software engineer (it was my emphasis for my M.S.), but in reality, am JAPH.

Nevertheless, I enjoy keeping up with new software development methodologies and languages. As far as fluency, I'm in the age of Java and OOP, but I enjoyed this clear explanation of Why Functional Programming Matters in the "Daily Vim" blog.

Even if you aren't interested in new languages just for the sake of it, this snippet shows why it's relevant to strong emerging trends in CPUs, GPUs, and productive programming paradigms:

At this point, the resounding question in your mind is probably, "why bother?" Well, fortunately there's a very strong reason behind all this shifting of methodology, and that's concurrency.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Daily Vim: Goodbye Vim, Hello Emacs

Oh no! What a way to begin the month! Just read of the loss of a fellow traveler, going to the dark side in Daily Vim: Goodbye Daily Vim, Hello Emacs. Emacs, of course, is a prime example of Zawinski's Law.