I don’t know where to start. This is unlike any other book on EDA that I’ve ever seen. One thing I will say is that I learned a whole lot of stuff about things I didn’t even know I didn’t know...
I guess that my knee-jerk reaction when I see a book with “EDA” in its title is that the book will be about the EDA tools we use to design and verify silicon chips, circuit boards, and electronic systems. EDA Graffiti isn’t one of those books (grin).
Let’s start with the author, Paul McLellan, who has spent the last quarter of a century in the semiconductor, EDA, and embedded software industries. In particular, Paul has held engineering, marketing, and executive management positions in both startups and larger companies. This has put him in a unique position to explain things to anyone wanting a deeper understanding of the EDA marketplace and the ecosystem surrounding it.
The book itself is presented in a very chatty, approachable, and understandable manner (although it has to be said that it could have used someone to proof-read and copy-edit it, because there are numerous little typos that don’t affect the quality of the content, but that do “niggle” on the reader – at least they do on this reader).
There are nine chapters, each of which is worth its weight in gold. During the first third of the book, Paul walks us through various facets of the Semiconductor Industry, the EDA Industry, and the way in which Silicon Valley “works” – I would say that this part is a “must read” for anyone involved in the EDA industry – I personally learned all sorts of things here.
In the remaining two thirds of the book, Paul basically presents a “How to Succeed in EDA Primer” – this part should be mandatory reading for anyone who is contemplating starting up a new company in EDA space.
Possibly the best way to give you a feel for the book is to list the chapters and summarize their contents as follows:
Chapter 1: Semiconductor Industry – Explains all sorts of facets about the industry ranging from the costs involved in creating and running a fab, to various forms of IP like ARM, Atom, and PowerPC processors and cores, to what’s happening with the semiconductor industry in Japan.
Chapter 2: EDA Industry – Presents many interesting points of view, starting with why EDA (which is predominantly a software-based industry) has a hardware business model. Then bounces around looking at things like the corporate CAD cycle, Verilog and VHDL, Design for Manufacturing, ESL, the EDA press, and where EDA is going in the next ten years.
Chapter 3: Silicon Valley – Considers visas, green cards, China, India, Patents, and the Upturns and Downturns in the valley.
Chapter 4: Management – Being a CEO, hiring and firing in startups, emotional engineers, strategic errors, acquisitions, interview questions, managing your boss, how long should you stay in a job, and much more.
Chapter 5: Sales – Semi equipment and DDA, hunters and farmers, $2M per sales person, channel choices, channel costs for an EDA startup, application engineers, customer support, running a sales force, and much more.
Chapter 6: Marketing – Why Intel only needs one copy, the arrogance of ESL, standards and old standards, pricing, competing with free EDA software, don’t listen to your customers, swiffering new EDA tools, creating demand in EDA, licensed to bill, barriers to entry, the second mouse gets the cheese, and much more.
Chapter 7: Presentations – The art of presentations, presentations without bullets, all-purpose EDA keynote, finger in the nose, it’s like football only with bondage, and much more.
Chapter 8: Engineering – Where is all the open source software, why is EDA so buggy, internal deployment, groundhog day, power is the new timing, multicore, process variation, CDMA tales, SaaS for EDA, and much more.
Chapter 9: Investment and Venture Capital – Venture capital for your grandmother, crushing fixed costs, technology of SOX, FPGA software, Wall Street values, royalties, why are VCs so greedy, the anti-portfolio, CEO pay, early exits, and much more.