Semiconductor device engineering — the neglected design importance of reducing variation

According to Scotten Jones

One really interesting point in this talk that was repeated at the Coventor event at IEDM was the importance of reducing variation. Device engineers focus on improving the mean but designers are more concerned with the distribution tails. Reducing variation is better even if the mean is lower! It was also noted that many of the proposed future devices will likely have more variability and therefore their actual performance may be less impressive than originally expected.

ANSYS to acquire Mentor Graphics?

According to CharlieD

Is this an active rumor or is ANSYS really acquiring Mentor Graphics?

Apache used to be a preferred vendor for us but after the ANSYS acquisition they seemed to have lost their zest for life. Honestly I have not heard much from them in the FinFET world. ANSYS has a 2x market cap over MENT? Do they have the cash to make an outright buy or would it be a stock deal?

According to Daniel Nenni

Let’s call it wishful thinking……. I do think it would be good for EDA as I mentioned previously:

The dark horse here of course is ANSYS if they acquire Mentor for example. That would certainly shake things up a bit. Not only would that take Mentor into a whole new level of exposure outside traditional EDA, it would get ANSYS securely inside the semiconductor ecosystem and give Synopsys and Cadence cause for concern, absolutely.

The best-performing coders have larger, quieter, more private workspaces

According to David Walker on February 25, 2001 reviewing DeMarco and Lister’s Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

Peopleware says this: give smart people physical space, intellectual responsibility and strategic direction. DeMarco and Lister advocate private offices and windows. They advocate creating teams with aligned goals and limited non-team work. They advocate managers finding good staff and putting their fate in the hands of those staff. The manager’s function, they write, is not to make people work but to make it possible for people to work.

Why is Peopleware so important to Microsoft and a handful of other successful companies? Why does it inspire such intense devotion amongst the elite group of people who think about software project management for a living? […] Peopleware’s persuasiveness comes from its numbers – from its simple, cold, numerical demonstration that improving programmers’ environments will make them more productive.
The numbers in Peopleware come from DeMarco and Lister’s Coding War Games, a series of competitions to complete given coding and testing tasks in minimal time and with minimal defects. The Games have consistently confirmed various known facts of the software game. For instance, the best coders outperform the ten-to-one, but their pay seems only weakly linked to their performance. But DeMarco and Lister also found that the best-performing coders had larger, quieter, more private workspaces. It is for this one empirical finding that Peopleware is best known.

(As an aside, it’s worth knowing that DeMarco and Lister tried to track down the research showing that open-plan offices make people more productive. It didn’t exist. Cubicle makers just kept saying it, without evidence – a technique Peopleware describes as “proof by repeated assertion”.)

Around their Coding Wars data, DeMarco and Lister assembled a theory: that managers should help programmers, designers, writers and other brainworkers to reach a state that psychologists call “flow” – an almost meditative condition where people can achieve important leaps towards solving complex problems. It’s the state where you start work, look up, and notice that three hours have passed. But it takes time – perhaps fifteen minutes on average – to get into this state. And DeMarco and Lister that today’s typical noisy, cubicled, Dilbertesque office rarely allows people 15 minutes of uninterrupted work. In other words, the world is full of places where a highly-paid and dedicated programmer or creative artist can spend a full day without ever getting any hard-core work [done]. Put another way, the world is full of cheap opportunities for people to make their co-workers more productive, just by building their offices a bit smarter.

“If there is something scientists fear, it is to become like pariahs”

According to Huw Price

Again, there’s a sociological explanation why few people are willing to look at the evidence. They put their reputations at risk by doing so. Cold fusion is tainted, and the taint is contagious – anyone seen to take it seriously risks contamination. So the subject is stuck in a place that is largely inaccessible to reason – a reputation trap, we might call it. People outside the trap won’t go near it, for fear of falling in. ‘If there is something scientists fear, it is to become like pariahs,’ as Lundin puts it. People inside the trap are already regarded as disreputable, an attitude that trumps any efforts that they might make to argue their way out, by reason and evidence.

Outsiders might be surprised to learn how well-populated the trap actually is, in the case of cold fusion and LENR. The field never entirely went away, nor vanished from the laboratories of respected institutions. (Rossi’s own background is not in these laboratories, but he acknowledges that his methods owe much to those who are, or were – especially to the late Sergio Focardi, one of the pioneers of the field.) To anyone willing to listen, the community will say that they have amassed a great deal of evidence of excess heat, not explicable in chemical terms, and of various markers of nuclear processes. Some, including a team at one of Italy’s leading research centres, say that they have many replications of the Fleischmann and Pons results.

Again, the explanation for ignoring these claims cannot be that other attempts failed 25 years ago. That makes no sense at all. Rather, it’s the reputation trap. The results are ignored because they concern cold fusion, which we ‘know’ to be pseudoscience – we know it because attempts to replicate these experiments failed 25 years ago! The reasoning is still entirely circular, but the reputation trap gives its conclusion a convincing mask of respectability. That’s how the trap works.

Fifty years ago, Thomas Kuhn taught us that this is the usual way for science to deal with paradigm-threatening anomalies. The borders of dominant paradigms are often protected by reputation traps, which deter all but the most reckless or brilliant critics.

If you aren’t real, you aren’t powerful

Brad Pierce's Blog

According to Jules Buccieri

If you aren’t real, you aren’t powerful.

See this essay by Howard Fine on why a speech was almost universally considered a disaster. It shows why you come across so much better when you’re spontaneous, and how important it is to have something important and real to say, compared to merely trying to say it well.

According to Phil Gyford’s notes on Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares

Be careful when rehearsing with a mirror — teaches you to watch the outside, not the inside.

According to John Wareham (The Anatomy of a Great Executive, pp. 35-36)

A person will often present a facade founded upon the aspect of his or her personality that he/she most fears — or knows — to be missing.

He says to ask yourself

What is the impression that this individual takes the greatest trouble to convey to me?

Then, until…

View original post 23 more words

Why chip designers won’t risk tool changes

According to Tom Simon

Years ago I thought that chip design companies would embrace the latest technology and be eager to adopt new tools. What I learned was that the people implementing and managing design projects were taking a lot of risks with almost every aspect of their projects. What they most wanted is to minimize risk from the design process – especially from design tool changes.

The reluctance to change goes much deeper. In the middle of a project a design team would never be willing to change tools, or even tool versions. Even minor updates from vendors can have subtle algorithmic changes that affect results. Beyond the obvious possibility of an outright bug, there can be variations in results that can affect every downstream step. This is true for implementation and sign off tools.

Chip companies spend significant resources on correlation and validation of tools. In some cases, known bugs in software are compensated for and if a tool vendor were to suddenly fixed the bug it could break the flow. Pretty much the only reason a design team will change any tool or tool version is to fix a show-stopper issue.

The age of fossil fuels is ending

According to Joe Romm in “In Historic Paris Climate Deal, World Unanimously Agrees To Not Burn Most Fossil Fuels

The economic and environmental implications of this deal for Americans are staggering. In the near term, it will unlock an accelerating multi-trillion-dollar shift in capital investment away from carbon-intensive coal and oil, which were the cornerstone of the first industrial revolution, into clean technologies like solar, wind, LED lighting, advanced batteries, and electric cars. It means far less harmful carbon pollution will be emitted in the coming years.

The agreement “sends a very powerful message to the business and investment community that the age of fossil fuels is ending,” explained the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Alden Meyer. Thus, “continued investments in high-carbon assets conflicts with their fiduciary responsibility.”