Tuesday At DAC

Why did Siemens acquire Mentor and who will be next? Portable stimulus contemplates a tough adoption challenge.


Accellera got everyone out of bed early this morning to talk about the just announced early access release of Portable Stimulus. The panel was made up with people from user companies. Semiconductor Engineering will be providing full coverage of this event, but perhaps the important message is that the panelists were eager to get adoption within their companies but knew that there would be challenges. Some of those challenges are considerable, such as the change in mindset that will be required and the new role that verification teams will take on. This type of change does not happen overnight. Others are looking forward to it as a way to get off UVM.

The keynote on Monday was given by an EDA executive of yesteryear – Joe Costello. Today’s keynote was probably just as highly anticipated – EDA’s newest executive and Wally Rhines’ new boss – Chuck Grindstaff, executive chairman for Siemens PLM Software. In many ways, his message was very similar to Joe’s in that the IoT is going to have a very dramatic impact on the entire ecosystem. “IC designs are the heart of innovation,” noted Grindstaff. “It is the core starting place. The industry is still going digital and they have not yet been integrated across disciplines. This will make or break companies in the future.”

He provided examples from wind turbines and the impact of going from one device to a farm. “The business model has changed over the years and they need to be connected, instrumented, and optimized. That means the intelligence has to be built into the product from the initial design phase.”

He also talked about why Siemens believes that Mentor is a good fit for them. “Creating products is a flow of information. How do you take the abstractions, the requirements, synthesize, verify and manufacture the design. The flow is the same for each discipline even if the underlying physics are different. This will require more codesign – mechanical, environmental, fluid flow, electronics from board to chip and take them all together into a complete model of the product that includes the software.”

He continued to talk about how the industry is changing and how each piece needs to start learning from the others – just one way in which he believes Siemens will derive value out of the acquisition. Surprisingly, he fielded questions from the audience, one of which probed the acquisition and asked if this would pressure others. “I feel good about bringing these technologies together,” responded Grindstaff. “It does put pressure on some of our existing partnerships, but they can and should survive and thrive. Will others follow? I don’t know how they will avoid it. If I were a competitor, I would be unnerved.”

The keynote was followed by more Portable Stimulus. This time, in a conference panel that will be also be fully covered by Semiconductor Engineering, Monica Farkash from NXP Semiconductors provided a message that should bring tears of joy from verification teams around the globe. She said that “Portable Stimulus is similar to test-driven development where you develop a framework in which test comes first. You first define the intent of the HW and then implement it. Verification has been the Cinderella of the industry, driven by the needs of the design. We have now enabled the change, or at least can challenge the V model. We can now express intent first.”

Later in the panel, when the name of the standard was being discussed, she pushed even further. “I am tired of being Cinderella – I want to be the princess. We will lead the design of the chip so we should not even call it verification. It is Product Intent Management.  We need to change the way people think about the whole flow.”

IEEE CEDA brought their distinguished lecture series to DAC and Mary Jane (Janie) Irwin from Penn State University spent most of her time with a walk down memory lane talking about what design was like back in 1986 and how it led to the creation of some of the early tools. She also provided a look at where we are today and a very brief glimpse into the future. The most important message was that “it takes new designs with new technologies to drive new tools.” She sees both design and technology changing today and thus sees lots of potential for new tools.

The rest of my day was spent running roundtable on the subjects of photonics and power management, both of which will get published in the coming months.

Later in the evening, the parties are in full swing. This year, the verification companies, along with ESDA, are taking a page out of the playbook of the Stars of IP, and doing their own group “Verified” event. They served good food, a wall full of craft beers and wines, and provided music by Austin’s canal. Everyone seemed to have a great time and most people had very common things to talk about. The organizers appears to be very happy with the result and I finished up staying much later than I intended.

I have been told that the attendance numbers this year are not that much different from last year. Still, after two years in Austin, it’s time for the conference to tap other technology centers. Next year DAC heads back to San Francisco. But there is still a lot more DAC to happen yet in Austin

Further Reading
Monday At DAC
Some things you missed if you did not attend DAC this year. Themes begin to emerge, but there is still a lot of room left for development.
Wednesday At DAC
What will be the next killer app for the IoT, establishing C++ as the signoff model, new architectural challenges and tackling verification challenges.

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