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Last week it was CadenceLIVE Boston, back after a hiatus of a couple of years since when CadenceLIVE was all virtual, we only had one for "the Americas" rather than one on the East coast and one on the West coast.
One treat in coming to Boston is to go to Legal Seafoods and have its clam chowder. You don't even need to leave the airport to do this, they have a restaurant in every terminal. But I knew there was one near the hotel, so I skipped the airport. But...disaster...the one near the hotel is "temporarily closed". I had clam chowder at the bar in the Marriott, where CadenceLIVE was being held, but somehow it didn't seem quite as good.
CadenceLIVE Boston has a different feel from Silicon Valley. As my daughter said when she moved to New York, "the East coast is different". There seem to be a lot more defense companies, even though there is a lot of defense in Southern California too. There are fewer startups. In the 1970s, "route 128" and "Silicon Valley" seemed to be peer technology ecosystems. This was the era of Digital Equipment, Prime, Data Ceneral. IBM is very much East Coast too. Books have been written on how the route 128 companies faded away, and Silicon Valley reigned triumphantly. The one book I have read is the 1996 Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128.
After CadenceLIVE I went to Providence RI to visit the site of the first industrial building in the whole US. That was in yesterday's Breakfast Bytes post Old Slater Mill RI. Made in England.
The first keynote was by Cadence's Tom Beckley. I'm not sure exactly what his title is, but he is in charge of PCB, packaging, circuit simulation, our system analysis products like Clarity and Celsius, computational fluid dynamics, and probably something else I left out. I'm not going to describe his keynote in detail. Partly because he might want to re-use it elsewhere but mainly that all the products and trends that he highlighted are things that I cover all the time here at Breakfast Bytes.
The second keynote was by Vern Boyle, Vice-President of Advanced Processing Solutions at Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. He titled his keynote Strategic Microelectronics.
You probably already know that Northrop Grumman is a big "prime contractor" to the Department of Defence. They are actually divided into four sectors with sales of about $36B and 90,000 employees. The four sectors are:
Vern looked back over the last 50 years at the big trends in defense electronics. During the cold war, the focus was on space and nuclear deterrence. In the 1970s, the focus moved to stealth and airborne superiority. In the 1990s, especially after 2001, there was the global war on terror and a focus on integrating functionality into comparatively cheap (compared to a manned fighter jet) drones. More recently, the focus is moving to AI-enabled warfare. In a "contested environment" there is the assumption that adversaries will be trying to disrupt communication networks, cybersecurity, and so on.
Northrop Grumman has a trusted fab outside Baltimore that supports unique technologies for the government. They produce over 1M devices per year, in 30 different processes. Vern admitted that in a commercial business this is laughably low volume, but in defense, this is high volume. The fab was first created in 1969 and so a couple of years ago had its 50th anniversary.
An intermission for some fun facts. Northrop Grumman has received two Emmy awards that they have on display in the lobby at Baltimore. One was for all the video work they did during the moon landings, and one was for an advanced video technique. It also has the world's longest memory device life test, which started in 1976 and is still going. But the ultimate in long time periods is how far back the James Webb Telescope can look back in time to the outer edges of the universe.
Time for a Cadence angle where Northrop Grumman uses a broad portfolio of our tools to create chip/software systems in a way that is similar to how developments are done in the commercial world. It makes use of the Dynamic Duo, the Palladium and Protium platforms, to accelerate simulation and do early software integration.
Switching from the past to the future, Vern talked about several challenges. One, that has been in the news a lot recently, is access to advanced nodes in trusted foundries (meaning in the U.S. staffed with citizens). Another is new emerging areas of focus such as hypersonic missiles, the resurgence of space technologies, and AI-enabled IoT devices.
There is a requirement for the country in general and Northrop Grumman in particular, to maintain strategic microelectronics capabilities.
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