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Archive for May, 2014

What to see at DAC Part I, (yes at the actual conference)

Friday, May 30th, 2014

I’ve talked about how to get around at DAC and where to spend your free time, but I haven’t talked about cool conference events yet. There’s all kinds of great stuff, so I’ll have to split this into multiple parts if I’m going to get the info out and pick up my dry cleaning before I get on the airplane.  Here goes.

Tactical News:
First and foremost, because this is coming up fast, you don’t want to miss Gary Smith’s EDA Kick-Off at the Intercontinental Hotel in Grand Ballroom A on Sunday at 5:00 PM.  There will be a meet and greet reception following the kickoff at 5:30.  Gary always has insightful information on the industry as a whole, and points out what to pay attention to at this year’s conference.  The reception is a great chance to catch up with everyone you already know, and meet some new folks.  Here’s the intrepid J. L. Gray at last year’s reception:

The Big Three:

I’ll of course be going to check out the big three verification companies, Synopsys, Mentor, and Cadence.

When you’re writing about the big three,how do you decide who goes first?  Well, in addition to a full slate of events and luncheons for both designers and verification engineers,Synopsys had one extra little fascinating event that puts them over the top in my book.  They’re hosting the International Microelectronics Olympiad Competition.  It’s a two hour test for engineering students on June 2nd from 3 to 5 PM at the San Francisco Westin Hotel Market Street, Metropolitan Ballroom.   Come on out and cheer for your favorite engineering student!  The winner will will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Armenia in October 2014 to compete in the final stage of the Olympiad.


Mentor’s Harry Foster will be talking about the new era in functional verification.  Alan Hunter of ARM will be talking about [testcase] …Stimulus: System-Level Distributed Metrics Analysis and Results later on the same day, (Monday, June 2).  I hope to attend both events.

If you’d like to learn about the latest and greatest from Cadence, and get a free breakfast or lunch out of the deal, check out their schedule of breakfast and luncheon seminars.  Also, don’t forget to register for your Denali party wristband!

Folks I know:

Duolog will be raffling off an excellent bottle of Fine Irish Whiskey again this year!  But the reason you should be interested in them,  at least what you should tell your boss, is there suite of design IP configuration automation tools.  Last year they announced a partnership with Jasper that combined their integration configuration software with Jasper’s formal verification.  I’m interested to find out how the impending purchase of Jasper by Cadence will affect that partnership.  There’s an entertaining blog post written by one of Duolog’s DAC first-timer’s that describes DAC as a combination a high school reunion and a Star Trek convention.  At the risk of sounding like too much of a DAC old-timer, back at the ought-seven, (or was it ought-six?) DAC, I wound up escorting Data and Deanna Troi around to their conference hall where they were doing a show for Mentor.  Apparently they’d become lost and disoriented at the home of Comic-Con.  A cross between a high school reunion and Star Trek about sums it up!  But, I digress, the Duolog DAC first-timer also promises food, beer, attractive booth personnel.

The word on the street, (and everywhere else), is that Jasper is going to be purchased by Cadence this year.  The first thing I need to tell you about is cool, and probably obvious.  You should go check out their formal verification tools.  The second thing is even cooler though!  Want to know what’s way more fun than a food truck?!  Lot’s of food trucks on Treasure Island!!!  Register for the event at Jasper’s DAC site.


Folks I Hope to Meet:

Invarian will be releasing InVar 3.0, their concurrent power and EM/IR validation solution for large capacity designs.  You can find them at booth #706.

G-Analog, founded by Jeff Tuan, will be showcasing their new tool, G-Migration (GMIG), targeted at those who are looking for a new layout migration and prototyping flow.  You can catch them at booth #200C

Sibridge will be presenting their design and verification IP and IP services.  They’ll be hanging out at booth #203C.

RealIntent will be showing off their latest developments in their Ascent Static Verification and Meridian CDC Sign-off tools.


DAC Diversions

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Last week we covered how to get around town while at DAC. This time, here’s a list of places to go and things to do while hanging out in San Francisco. You can’t spend all your time on the show floor after all!

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
We’re in luck a couple of different ways with this one.  First, it’s one of San Francisco’s premier art centers and it’s right around the corner from the Moscone Center.

Second, while it would usually be rather availability challenged since it doesn’t open until Thursdays, the week of DAC they’re hosting their monthly ‘First Tuesday Free Admission’ event.  Finally, they’ll be showing anime films of Hayao Yazaki and Studio Ghibli on Sunday.

Walking tour of China Town

National Geographic has posted an excellent walking tour of China Town.  The gates to Chinatown are only a few blocks from Moscone.  Interestingly, the route of the NG walking tour appears to parallel the route of a ‘pay the guide’ tour being offered.  China town is fun!  I haven’t been there since I was eight, but the fortune cookie factory featured on the walk was lots of fun back in the day!  Also, if you were hoping to hit the kite shop in Ghirardelli Square, it’s not there anymore.  There is however one on the Chinatown walking tour!

The Buena Vista, Ghirardelli Square and Art Galleries

This is where your MUNI pass comes in handy.  Head up Powell St. following the cable car line and hop on the Powell-Hyde line at a stop when either you get tired of hiking hills, or when the passengers have thinned out, whichever comes first.  The Buena Vista is at the end of the line.  They have an excellent breakfast and they’re world famous for their Irish coffee.  It might be just the thing after hanging out at one of the DAC parties a bit later than you should have.  Exiting the Buena Vista onto Beach St. and heading left, there are a number of interesting art galleries available as you head towards Ghirardelli Square, home of the Ghirardelli chocolate company.  The mochas and any other dishes involving chocolate are excellent!

 California Academy of Sciences

Finally, consider checking out the California Academy of Sciences.  They’ve got a number of interesting attractions including a new planetarium show narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson about dark matter and dark energy.




DAC Season and Public Transit SFO Style

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Vendor emails about the 2014 Design Automation Conference are slowly starting to trickle in like Christmas cards, putting me in the mood for DAC season!  I’ve been preparing my travel plans, and a significant part of my daily routine revolves around public transit in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.  Unlike other other major metropolitan areas, (ahem, Austin, ahem), where waiting on the next bus/train/trolley to arrive can be tiresome, and well… schedule wrecking, public transit in the SFO is delightful!  As an aside,having a rental car in San Francisco is nightmarish.  Wait til you get there.  There’s nowhere, but nowhere to park the thing.  You’ll see.

There are three major systems you should be aware of.  They are Caltrain, BART, and SFMTA, (also known as MUNI to those of us who don’t know any better).

BART is going to get you from SFO, (the airport), into town.   There’s a BART station stop on the airport’s Airtrain, just hop on there and head out.  BART trains arrive every fifteen minutes, and take you to downtown San Francisco in just 30 minutes or so.  Stop at the Powell St. station.  From here, if you take the Halidie Plaza exit, (it may be labelled Powell St. exit), and go up the escalators, you should be looking straight at a cable car turnaround.  Right by the turn around there will be a small booth selling SFMTA tickets.  SFMTA is the transit system that runs the cable cars and busses in town.  By the way, do not get onto the cable cars here!  Walk up the line several stops and you’ll usually have a much easier time than waiting in line at this, the terminus station.

View Larger Map

SFMTA offers a seven day pass for $29.00.  At $6.00 a piece, cable car rides will quickly pile up to cover this and more.  You’ll think you might not use this until the fourth time you try to go over the giant hill in the middle of town to eat dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf.  I’ve never lost money on it so far.  Also, don’t discount the busses.  They’re a bit slower, and have a slightly rowdier clientele, but the cover far more ground than the cable car system.  Make sure to download the system map to your smart device before you go and keep it with you.  Once again, keep in mind that lots of people, (including the web admin for the system map page), still call SFMTA, the MUNI system.

Finding affordable hotels in San Francisco is almost as hard as finding parking.  Fortunately, Caltrain opens up the entirety of Silicon Valley for your hotel search.  If you stay near station stops between San Jose and San Francisco, you can make it downtown to the Moscone Center in about an hour.  Also, keep Caltrain in mind for your future travel plans to your company’s headquarters in the valley.  Reversing the route and staying in San Francisco while working in the valley always worked well for me.  Being the person that got to see a Giants game for a few bucks and then had to walk a mile or two into the office the next morning beats the heck out of quaffing beers at the Blue Monkey in downtown San Jose, (at least in my book).

The Black Town Cars and also Taxis
As a final transit note,don’t forget the black Town Car brigade.  All over town, you’ll see black Lincoln Town Cars parked in front of venues waiting for their appointed riders to re-emerge.  Frequently, if you offer the driver ten dollars, or ten dollars per person, or whatever you feel is fair, they’ll hop you over the hill to your hotel or any other nearby location.  They seem to have a feel for when their main patrons will be back and don’t seem to mind picking up a little extra cash on the side.  Finally, if you’re burned out at the end of a long day and if you can find one, the taxis are reasonable, and can shuttle you over the hill for around $10.