Silicon Valley R&D job opening — Synopsys Design Compiler

At Synopsys, I’m seeking an R&D engineer for HDL Compiler, which is the VHDL/SystemVerilog front-end for Design Compiler. This software developer will be reporting to me from a building next to Encinal Park in Sunnyvale, California. Synopsys is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Here’s the official job description and requirements.

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HDL Compiler translates RTL hardware descriptions from VHDL and SystemVerilog into 2-D computational grids of abstract gates that Design Compiler maps to ASIC gates. The candidate should have prior experience and education in programming languages and the construction of compilers and interpreters.

BS/MS/Phd in EE/CS/CE. Prior experience and education in EDA software and optimization techniques would be beneficial. The candidate should be familiar with the software development process, debugging tools and configuration management tools. Should have familiarity with C/C++ coding, and a strong background in data structures and algorithms.

Lowering peak energy demand with a bank of lead-acid batteries in the basement

Background: For stationary storage in a moderate climate, such as in a basement, lead-acid batteries still have a total cost of ownership comparable to lithium-ion batteries.

According to Samantha Page

In the basement garage of a high-end apartment building in the middle of New York City, a few electricians are quietly installing a century-old product that is now poised to revolutionize an industry — and maybe lead the United States into a carbon-neutral future.

Taking up about two parking spaces is a wall of boxes. They are simple lead-acid batteries, similar to what keeps the lights on in your car. But these batteries are linked together, connected to the building’s electricity system, and monitored in real time by a Washington-state based company, Demand Energy. Demand’s installation at the Paramount Building in midtown Manhattan is going to lower the building electricity bills and reduce its carbon footprint, even while it doesn’t reduce a single watt of use.

Every night, the batteries charge up. Every day, they run down, providing a small portion of the building’s energy and reducing the amount of power it takes off the grid. This cycle of charging during low-use times and discharging during high use times helps level out the Paramount’s electricity use.

and

American home bills usually have a flat rate for the amount of electricity the resident uses. No matter when it’s used, or how quickly power is drawn, the rate is the same amount per kilowatt hour. Flat rates are like an odometer saying how many miles were drive — or, in this case, how many kilowatt hours (kWh) have been used. But for commercial and industrial properties, including residential apartment buildings, the electricity bill also has a demand charge. The demand charge acts like a speedometer: Not only is a business charged for the total amount of electricity it uses, it is also charged for how quickly power is taken. A business will receive a higher bill for using 10 kWh in an hour than for using the same 10 kWh over, say 10 hours. In New York, demand charges make up, on average, half of commercial and industrial customers’ bills.

Electricity rates are designed like this because utilities don’t like peaks in demand. Peaking plants are expensive, wasteful, and dirty. But from the utility’s perspective, putting a lot of electricity on the grid is also bad news. The higher the peak demand, the more infrastructure — wires, generators — has to be built. And transmission congestion means a less efficient system. (Line loss, a phenomenon in which not all the electricity gets from point A to point B, is greater when the transmission system is overloaded). Not to mention the risks of brownouts and blackouts that increase with too much strain on the grid.

Hitler “enthroned by stupid elite politicians” who “asssumed they could manage” him

According to Neal Ascherson

Ullrich has strong feelings about the way Hitler came to power in January 1933, enthroned by a ‘sinister plot’ of stupid elite politicians just at the moment when the Nazis were at last losing strength. It didn’t have to happen. He constantly reminds his readers that Hitler didn’t reach the chancellorship by his own efforts, but was put there by supercilious idiots who assumed they could manage this vulgarian. ‘We engaged him for our ends,’ said the despicable Franz von Papen. A year later, in the Night of the Long Knives, von Papen was grovelling to save his own neck.

Designing a practical electric airplane — hydrogen fuel cells

According to Tom Neuman in “How I Designed a Practical Electric Plane for NASA: To win a competition, a Georgia Tech student devised a fuel-cell plane to rival today’s best-selling small aircraft”

Fortunately, electric propulsion offers some flexibility that the engineers at Cirrus did not enjoy. Unlike combustion engines, electric motors are compact and efficient. These small, light motors can be placed in many more locations on the aircraft than would be practical for a combustion engine. If applied strategically, this tactic can distribute the power production across more or larger propellers. And the greater the area swept by propellers, the more efficient and quieter they become.

I ran yet another analysis and found a sweet spot in efficiency using two rather large propellers attached to a pair of motors. Instead of mounting them conventionally, on the wing or fuselage, I put them in my design atop the plane’s V-shaped tail, where the airflow is cleaner.

This simple strategy not only improved propulsive efficiency (from 85 to 92 percent), it also benefited the plane’s aerodynamics. Now air could flow more cleanly over both fuselage and wing. And although the propellers were large, putting them on the tail meant that I didn’t have to increase the height (and therefore, weight) of the landing gear. Having short gear made choosing retractable wheels much more palatable, and this reduced drag even further.

When I ran the next analysis, I found that this change, combined with some more optimization, decreased the plane’s energy consumption by another 27 percent. Indeed, this design change had lowered the power demand to the point that it became feasible to fly the plane on hydrogen-powered fuel cells. That’s when I dubbed my V-tailed, hydrogen-powered design “Vapor.”

Aldous Huxley: War is mass murder organized in cold blood

Antiwar literary and philosophical selections

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Aldous Huxley: Selections on war

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Aldous Huxley
From Ends and Means (1937)

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Every road toward a better state of society is blocked, sooner or later, by war, by threats of war, by preparations for war. That is the truth, the odious and inescapable truth, that emerges, plain for all to see…

Let us briefly consider the nature of war, the causes of war and the possible alternatives to war, the methods of curing the mania of militarism afflicting the world at the present time.

(i) War is a purely human phenomenon. The lower animals fight duels in the heat of sexual excitement and kill for food and occasionally for sport. But the activities of a wolf eating a sheep or a cat playing with a mouse are no more war-like than the activities of butchers or fox-hunters. Similarly, fights between…

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“Do you have these symptoms? Here is the problem I think you have and here is how I can help you solve it.”

According to Sean Murphy in “Three Sales Pitches That Never Really Work”

Approaching Early Customers

  • Poor: “Would you like to play with this?”
  • Poor:  “Would you like to use this?”
  • Poor:  “Would you feel bad if our free product was discontinued?”
  • Poor:  “You would be really stupid not to try our product.”
  • Better:  “Do you have these symptoms? Here is the problem we think you have and here is how we can help you solve it.”