PORTLAND, Ore. Design automation pioneer Robert Brayton is to receive the Nobel Prize of the EDA Industry--the Phil Kaufman Award 2007. Brayton is credited with seminal contributions to the fundamental design automation algorithms used to fabricate integrated circuits, ranging from logic synthesis to the silicon compiler.
"My early work on logic synthesis is what I am best known for, but today I'm interested in its commonality with formal verification methods, too," said Brayton. "Today, I am looking at how these two areas are synergistic with each other--enabling cross-fertilization by borrowing techniques from one to use in the other."
Brayton's latest cross-fertilization ideas will be featured in his keynote speech at this fall's FMCAD (Nov. 11"14, Austin, Texas) where he will address these issues in his talk entitled,
"The synergy between logic synthesis and equivalence checking."
The EDA Consortium and the IEEE Council on EDA will formally present the Kaufman award to Brayton two weeks earlier, on Nov. 1, at the 14th annual Phil Kaufman Award ceremony in Santa Clara, Calif.
The award was established in 1994 by the EDA Consortium and the IEEE Council on EDA to honor Phil Kaufmanthe late president of Quickturn Design Systems Inc., which merged with Cadence Design Systems Inc. in 1999. Other design automation pioneers who have received the award include Carver Mead, Hermann Gummel, Donald Pederson, James Solomon and Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, co-founder of Cadence Design Systems and Synopsys.
Brayton studied electrical engineering at Iowa State University (Ames), but he wanted to apply computers to his EE work. At the time, computers were the domain of the mathematics department, so he took his Ph.D. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge).
"I entered MIT in the 1960s with an interest in computers, but at that time the only way to do logic on computers was in the mathematics department. I combined the two disciplines after I entered IBM," Brayton said.
Tenure with IBM
Brayton was hired by IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., immediately after graduating from MIT in 1961, and stayed at IBM for 26 years. He began his second career as a professor at the University of California (Berkeley) in 1987, where he has remained for 20 years.
Brayton's seminal work at IBM began with its general-purpose analog circuit simulatora precursor to the open-source SPICE program developed at his future home after IBM, UC Berkeley. Since then, derivatives of these early logic synthesis efforts have been mimicked by every major EDA programming staff, including HSPICE (by Synopsys) and PSPICE (by Cadence Design Systems), and XSPICE (by Georgia Tech, which added mixed signal code models).
The logic synthesis algorithms to which Brayton made major contributions include the "sparse tableau" and "backward differentiation" methods. These combine the tableau approach with formulas that automate network design optimization using time-step numerical integration--repeatedly solving linear algebraic equations for a sparse matrix.
"I also co-developed a program called Expresso, which was a two-level logic optimization program that became used throughout the industry," he said. "A lot of the logic synthesis companies today still use something like Expresso under the covers."