In the quarter century that Cadence has existed as a
company, one man who was there from day one says it has always been defined by
three French words.
"Cadence has never lacked for esprit de corps," said Jim
Hogan, the EDA industry legend (pictured right), who was there when Cadence emerged from the
crucible of the merger of SDA and ECAD. "Cadence has always been great at
rallying to a crisis and kicking butt. Everybody feels they can bring something
to the party. They can help and they want to help."
If you weren't there, here's a recap:
SDA (Solomon Design Automation) Systems started in the early 1980s with a dissatisfied
engineer named Jim Solomon who happened by a brilliant analog design. Working
at National Semiconductor, Solomon was frustrated by the lack of analog CAD
tools, and he saw the need for a standard format for design data storage.
1980s EDA revolution
Solomon wrote a business plan at National Semiconductor, and
while he wasn't originally intending to run a new company, that's what
happened. SDA received start-up funding from National Semiconductor, General
Electric, Harris Corp., and L.M. Ericsson. The company developed an integrated
suite of IC physical design tools.
Hogan, in an interview, describes the 1980s in EDA as a revolutionary
time, especially around the rise of hardware description languages.
same time, large place and route came around, and you had Gate Ensemble from
Tangent, later Cadence. You could describe your circuit and implement large
digital circuits in a structured custom fabric," Hogan said.
By the mid-1980s, Synopsys burst on the scene with synthesis
Design Compiler, so designers could move from behavioral languages to gates and
gates to silicon implementation.
"The 1980s saw incredible innovation and emergence of
technologies that still persist today," Hogan said.
Another of the early startups was ECAD, founded by Glen
Antle and Paul Huang. Antle, a veteran IC designer, had worked at Texas
Instruments, ITT, Teledyne, Data General, and subsequently the Systems
Engineering Lab (SEL), where he headed the microelectronics product division.
While developing a new 32-bit computer design, the CAD group at SEL wrote a
new, and very fast, algorithm for design rule checking (DRC). Huang directed
the development of this IC physical verification technology. In 1982 Gould Inc.
bought SEL, and Gould granted Antle and Huang the marketing rights to the
Tying the knot
In February 1988, ECAD agreed to acquire SDA in a $72
million stock swap and on June 1 emerged from the chrysalis as Cadence Design
Systems. Huang became a vice president of R&D, Solomon (pictured, left) became president of
the Cadence Analog Division, and Costello was named Cadence president and CEO.
Hogan, a veteran mentor himself, says that, pretty much hands
down, Solomon was the best boss he's ever had.
"I'll go back to Analog Artist days. We'd work all day 8,
10, 12 hours. And then we'd gather outside of Solomon's office and argue for
another four hours. Fist fights would occur.
"What Solomon was disciplined about—and this was different
from working at a semiconductor company and moving into EDA—he let every voice
be heard. I'm full enough of myself to say ‘Hey I got the right answer,' but
he'd just say ‘Sit down, take it easy. Have a piece of pizza. We're going to listen
to this.' And he would allow every voice to be heard.
"And then out of that collection of voices, we'd synthesize
something. That's a luxury that a lot of people don't do. It's all because we
all respected him so much that if he said it we'd do it. If I said it, nobody
would do it."
Hogan also tips his hat to Cadence's first CEO, Joe
Costello, later CEO Ray Bingham, and venture capitalist Don Lucas as good
bosses, but he notes there's a secret to a good boss, both being one and
learning from one.
"I say you don't have a mentor. You have a tormentor. And
tormentorship is about pushing people outside their comfort zone. Solomon, Ray,
Costello, and Lucas: those guys always took every opportunity to push me outside
of my comfort zone and beyond what I thought I was capable of. Did I come up
short sometimes? Yeah. But I actually delivered on a few things too."
"With all managers and bosses, you should be a tormentor,"
The complete video interview with Jim Hogan will be
available online later this month.