Electronic Design
Q&A: An Interview with Kaufman Award Winner Dr. Lucio Lanza

Q&A: An Interview with Kaufman Award Winner Dr. Lucio Lanza

Technology Editor Bill Wong talks with Dr. Lanza about EDA and the electronics industry, investing in interesting technology, receiving the Kaufman Award, and working closely with Phil Kaufman at Intel.

Dr. Lucio Lanza, Managing Director, Lanza techVentures and Chairman of the Board, PDF Solutions

Lucio Lanza has been a stalwart supporter of the EDA and IP business, investing in early-stage companies or advising entrepreneurs with little or no fanfare.  Few individuals in the electronics industry are as admired as Dr. Lanza. The news release announcing that he is this year’s Phil Kaufman Award recipient perhaps says it best: In recognition of his advancement of the EDA and IP industry through his generous business and technical mentoring, and financial support of numerous innovative companies, the EDA Consortium and IEEE Council on EDA are pleased to present the 2014 Phil Kaufman Award to Dr. Lucio Lanza.

Wong: Congratulations! How does it feel to be 2014’s recipient of the Phil Kaufman Award?

Lanza: It feels great and I’m very, very grateful. It’s especially moving for me because Phil Kaufman and I were colleagues at Intel.

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Wong: Please tell Electronic Design readers a bit about Phil Kaufman.

Lanza: Phil Kaufman was CEO of Quickturn Systems and Silicon Compilers, both early EDA companies. He died unexpectedly while on business for Quickturn in Japan in 1992. Before either of those startups, Phil ran the microprocessor division at Intel and I was in charge of strategy for the microprocessor division. If you’re thinking, “Wow,” I need to tell you the entire story. At the time, microprocessors were not seen as overwhelming. Memories, PCB offerings, and development systems were considered more promising than microprocessors. And, my role was not strategist, but to make sure the Intel strategy for the microprocessor was being defined and implemented. Phil, however, was an exceptional strategist. Intel’s dominance in microprocessors is a credit to Phil Kaufman’s vision. He and I worked closely for many years and I admired him.

Wong: What technology would you invest in that you do not see on the horizon? What technology areas are of interest to you?

Lanza: I see two areas. The Internet of Things will influence the expansion of analog design and that could breed a whole new wave of startups. IoT challenges are much more formidable than we may realize. Analog designers need different tools and a different way of doing design.

The other is the area between software and the SoC, or what I call no man’s land. No one is addressing the needs in the middle or the design layer. It’s like the wilderness where no one goes. It’s untouched and fertile ground.

An interesting area to watch involves software startups looking at machine learning for design automation. Machine learning is helping make Moore’s Law continue to change to meet the next challenges coming in the silicon evolution. Several emerging startups are building a fundamental platform with easier access that will become the systems of the future. They will change the way humans interact with the computer. This is design automation.

Wong: What is your perspective on the EDA industry and the electronics industry?

Lanza: My view is that the semiconductor disruption is happening and we cannot stop the future. EDA is under the disruption and is impacted by the laws of silicon. The EDA industry has to change what it’s designing now and in the future.

The industry often overlooks the fact that EDA and IP are part of one another. IP was pioneered by ARM and Artisan Components. They changed the model and created value for which they were compensated. Library companies were only selling licenses. With ARM and Artisan, they became IP companies providing value. IP redefined EDA.

Wong: How should EDA change?

Lanza: If someone tells me EDA is slowing down, I believe they’re slowing down, not EDA. I’m optimistic about the infinite opportunities for EDA to innovate. For example, EDA should help software developers who are developing chips. As I mentioned earlier, no one’s working at the middle between software and the SoC, an area that’s quickly developing into the design layer. It’s as modularized as the SoC itself.

Think about it one step at a time. The chip in XX years from now may be designed in 3D with the same concept as a skyscraper of yesterday or today. It will be simple layers with a central post for all utilities. The way data is stored and managed will be transformed. We’ll move from horizontal design to vertical design. One design will become a platform. Because everything is a plane, all layers could be different. No tools today can support this type of design. It will be so much more complex and built in a modular fashion. We’ll need both the methodologies and tools to manage the complexity of the next computer as we move from horizontal design to vertical design. EDA will acquire dimensions.

Wong: What overall trends are you seeing in the electronics industry?

Lanza: Moore’s Law is Moore’s Law and EDA has accepted the challenge. The evolution of Moore’s Law derives the challenge to provide an environment that allows time for design and keeps costs under control. EDA accepted the challenge and has been building the methodologies and tools to meet the challenge in spite of the significant increases in complexity due to Moore’s Law.

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This file type includes high resolution graphics and schematics when applicable.

We will see the transformation of fabless semiconductor companies into virtual integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) driven by big data. The complexity of design is such that it requires specialized characteristics in manufacturing. The management of manufacturing data and capabilities for significantly different applications will be another big challenge.

TAGS: Interviews
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