Welcome To The Testbench

Jan. 26, 2011
Here is an introduction to "The Testbench," David Maliniak's new blog that will span both electronic design automation (EDA) and test and measurement (T&M).

Upon learning that I’d have the opportunity to begin blogging on the Electronic Design site, it seemed that the first task would be naming the blog. I wear two hats at Electronic Design and currently serve as the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) editor and as the Test and Measurement (T&M) editor. Hmm, thought I… it’d be nice to have a name that somehow touches on both beats, because I plan to write about both in this space (among other things).

So what came to mind was “The Testbench.” I know, I know, it brings to mind first and foremost the test lab and a cluttered tabletop full of scopes, DMMs, power supplies, hunks of wire, and busted probe tips. But for me it also evokes circuit simulation, assertions, and assorted other topics centered around proving a design’s mettle in the virtual arena. Hey, if you’ve got a better idea for a name that spans both beats, I’m all ears! Let me know.

There are, of course, synergies and similarities between EDA and T&M. Both areas of engineering are about making sure designs work as intended, and thus are of a piece in the sense of verification. Obviously, EDA comes at things in a more abstract manner, taking its cues more from models and assumptions, while T&M is squarely situated in the real world, measuring real voltages, currents, amplitudes, and frequencies. But engineering is engineering, and whether you’re an RTL jock, a lab rat, or a verification engineer, the simulator is a tool, just as is the scope or spectrum analyzer. You still must bring your knowledge and intuition to the testbench, whether that testbench is virtual or real. The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” applies equally to both.

I’ve been covering EDA full time since early 2001, when I returned to Penton and Electronic Design after a brief hiatus. I took on the T&M beat in 2009 when my colleague Lou Frenzel began concentrating more fully on his communications duties. Since then, I’ve lived in what I like to term my “divided house.” But I enjoy covering both areas. After about eight years of concentrating on EDA, it was a nice change of pace for me to take on the T&M beat and have an opportunity to meet new people and learn new things. Plus, when the T&M vendors come to visit me here in New York, they usually bring really cool boxes for show and tell. Sometimes they even let me twist knobs and push buttons.

So going forward, this blog will be a loose and informal space in which I can muse on what I’m hearing and seeing in both the EDA and T&M worlds. Occasionally, they’ll cross paths here too. And once in a while, I hope you’ll indulge me in some off-topic posts as well. See you back here soon!

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