Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The New, New Colossus

In the last few weeks I've come across a number of compelling pleas for the US government to target immigration and specifically "green card" quotas at the highly-skilled Science, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM) professionals that we need in the high tech industry.

I don't think it's some coordinated conspiracy to push this agenda, but rather good long-term policy for our economic well-being.

  • Microsoft suggests charging employers for extra worker visas
  • Why Silicon Valley is losing its luster
  • Crovitz: Washington's New Twist on Human Sacrifice. (may require a Wall Street Journal subscription--sorry)

    Quite a twist from the original immigration ideal; an update for the "flat" world?

    "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
    -- Excerpt from The New Colossus
  • Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Apple's A6 chip development detailed

    A glimpse into Apple's CPU development strategies and personnel: 
    Apple's A6 chip development detailed | Apple - CNET News

    I'd like to know how much of Apple's acquisitions were for the people with skills vs. the IP that these companies brought with them. For example, Intrinsity was noted for a type of Dynamic logic design, but I wonder if such techniques are suitable for advanced-process ultra low-power processors?

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Zombie Software Considered Harmful

    As much as I complain about the quality of EDA software, I've never heard of anything like these tidbits from the Knight Capital financial fiasco: "Zombie Software" Blamed for Knight Capital Trading Snafu - IEEE Spectrum.

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

    Spy vs. Spy in the Chip World

    Schneier on Security: Backdoor Found (Maybe) in Chinese-Made Military Silicon Chips
    tells a tale of chips "manufactured in China", that could be "infected". The chip in question is "prevalent in many systems from weapons, nuclear power plants to public transport".The publicizers of this vulnerability appear quite proud of their discovery and reverse engineering skills.

    The chip in question is a type of programmable device (FPGA), hence the assertion that it is used in such a variety of applications. And, the back door is apparently related to the JTAG port.

    Check out the story and the insightful comments. I'm inclined to think this is a tempest in a teapot, but it's an interesting topic to ponder.

    If such a problem needs solving, a company that I met at DAC may have just the solution. Check out SypherMedia International for all your circuit obfuscation needs!

    Friday, June 01, 2012

    My DAC Shopping List

    DAC is next week! Are you ready? Organized? Got those appointments line up?

    Hopefully you're better prepared than I and started your research before yesterday. What sparked my action (finally) was a colleague asking me "what to see" at DAC.


    • I'm not including the major EDA vendors, particularly Synopsys. It's not because they're not interesting, but because they do a good job of keeping me informed, and I have other avenues for updates.
    • My interest is in design implementation, so my picks are focused in that area. I don't work much with Verification tools. It's not to say there isn't equal or more innovation in that realm.
    • The list is compiled from what's in my head and what interested me from my email Inbox. I hope to do more research and add more links over the coming days.

    My List

    The most interesting synthesis competitor. Good buzz for the past several years, and backing from major customers like Intel and Xilinx.
    They're doing interesting things combining ESL design and verification, and have innovative products for power optimization.
    Up and coming RTL Analysis company. Agile and innovative.
    I'm forever trying to figure out where ESL design and synthesis fits. They've been working on this for years.
    Silicon IP is important and will only grow more so as chip capacity grows exponentially. ChipEstimate helps provide the catalog and planning tools for assembling an SoC.
    I haven't looked closely at what they're planning for DAC, but have caught a few headlines that refer to some mysterious big announcement. Will have to check it out.

    Other Voices

    Thursday, May 03, 2012

    Ridiculous Automation

    Saw an article in the paper about this UC Berkeley EECS undergrad's "Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm" (BRAD).

    What a cool renovation of an otherwise very utilitarian cramped dorm room!
    The article mentioned that he was being questioned by campus facilities.
    Let's hope Cal has the good sense to encourage such exceptional creativity and engineering.
    Go Bears!

    Thursday, April 05, 2012

    Qualcomm Co-Founder on Life & Keys to Success

    Nice profile of one of Qualcomm's founders. It's remarkable what humble aspirations the company started with, and where they are today. I believe their first major success was a radio network for trucking fleets!

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Graphene, Your Next Switch?

    Graphene xyz When silicon transistors finally run out of gas, graphene-based logic is one of the candidates to replace it. Graphene: The Ultimate Switch - IEEE Spectrum is a very readable technical description of how graphene behaves and how it might be used in computing.

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    The Evolution of Conference Schwag

    I noticed a lonely unused USB drive in my desk today, and it got me thinking about the hoops that we engineers will jump through to get a conference giveaway. It's an arms race!

    In the beginning, there was the t-shirt ... Geek t-shirts I have known and loved

    I just took a box full of bags and backpacks to the donation station ... 600 Conference Bags on The Wall, 600....

    USB drives were once precious ... USB Drives

    An iPod is still a pretty cool gift ... Apple Gift Package - iPod Shuffle

    But today's holy grail is the iPad. iPad Door Prizes (and Flip Cameras) at MiCon10

    Note, none of the pictures are of my schwag. I grabbed photos available under Creative Commons license.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Synopsys/ Magma - Gary Smith's take

    Gary Smith gives his informed perspective on Synopsys/ Magma - Great Acquisition, Difficult Merger :: Gary Smith EDA. I like that he names names with respect to which Synopsys products aren't cutting it. On paper, it seemed like a great deal of overlap between the two companies. But Gary argues that Synopsys wasn't competitive in several of these areas, and the Magma tools will give them a stronger line-up.

    This point is hard to argue with:

    The static timing analyzer will be a big issue with the customer base. With their recent acquisition of Extreme DA, and now Magma, Synopsys has regained their Franchise position in the important Static Timing market. This is not a good thing for the design engineer. Only competition drives tool improvements.

    But how's this for bravado?

    Magma brags that they can achieve better results with a five man team than Synopsys can with a fifty man team.
    That's the sort of claim I might believe from an EDA startup; could a public company (no longer a spring chicken) be so agile, or is this coming from the supreme confidence of their CEO?

    Tuesday, January 03, 2012

    The Engadget Interview: ARM co-founder John Biggs

    Happy New Year and welcome to 2012! ARM logo The Engadget Interview: ARM co-founder John Biggs -- Engadget covers the interesting history, philosophy, and future of ARM Holdings. As you will learn from the article, it's a company that might never have been started were it not for Intel.