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Three decades—the rough time span for Saturn to orbit the sun, for the human male brain to reach full maturity, and for the newest Star Wars installment to pick up where Return of the Jedi left off. For Richard Goering, 30 years marks a distinguished career as a technology journalist covering the Electronics and EDA industry.
From his start in 1985 as an editor for Computer Design Magazine to his 17 years as the EDA editor for EE Times to the past six years as the widely read Industry Insights blogger and technical writer for Cadence, Richard has recently retired after a prolific career. Read his retrospective here.
As I start this new blog, The Design Chronicles, I thought that an inaugural post featuring a Q&A with Richard would be a great way to kick things off. So before Richard logged off and ventured on to write his next chapter, we sat down to talk about his three decades writing about electronic design.
What has kept covering this industry interesting over the years?
There’s always something new: new technology, new products, new companies, mergers and acquisitions…and colorful people involved in the industry as well. What has also kept covering this industry interesting is seeing the impact of EDA on our daily world, through things like smartphones and tablets and drones and GoPro cameras. We probably wouldn’t have these things without EDA, at least not as we know them today.
Who are your most compelling interviews and why?
Joe Costello, the first CEO of Cadence, was a very charismatic figure, outspoken and controversial at times and always interesting. I remember one interview in particular in the mid-1990s, when Joe was very enthusiastic about design services because of how that could transform EDA. Others had concerns that EDA vendors would be competing with their own customers, but design services did not quite take off in that way, and now it’s part of what major EDA vendors provide.
Gary Smith has been the leading analyst in the EDA industry for many years. I have talked to Gary on numerous occasions for background, largely to get his impressions of new technologies, new products and companies, and about where he sees the industry going. He’s been beating the drum for many years about system-level design.
Jim Hogan, a former Cadence executive and now an independent investor, is very knowledgeable about EDA and high tech in general. He’s a very colorful interviewer with good insights to share.
Chris Rowen, CTO of Cadence’s IP Group and a Cadence Fellow, is very knowledgeable about IP in general and processor IP in particular. He’s a very frequent speaker at conferences and events, and is very approachable.
What has surprised you about how electronic design and the electronics industry have evolved?
I’m surprised that we’ve kept up with Moore’s Law as easily as we have. But thanks to a lot of cooperation between foundries, IP developers, and EDA vendors, for every process node, the tools have been ready. It’s remarkable that we’re going down to 10nm with steppers that operate at the 193nm wavelength—we’ve been able to play enough lithography tricks to manufacture these chips.
When you started covering the industry, did you imagine that we'd have the types of applications that are now commonplace?
In 1985, there was no Internet, not as we know it. It would have been hard to envision a lot of connected devices, or, with smartphones, the ability to put a lot of computing power into a very small device. Smartphones today have the computing power of a supercomputer from that era.
There were probably visionary people who saw these things, but I don’t recall hearing predictions that we would have the kinds of devices we have today. There’s been a lot of amazing engineering.
Having covered 31 Design Automation Conferences, what’s your favorite DAC memory?
In the early 90s in San Diego, there was a company called Escalade that had rented a replica of the Stars and Stripes, the sailboat that won the America’s Cup. They took some editors out for a sail on the bay in San Diego. I was able to steer for a while, and I steered it under a bridge. There’s a photo of that in which my boss, Richard Wallace, is standing behind me with a terrified look on his face.
There have been fun things like that, but there is also a lot of hard work going into interviews, keynotes, and panels. In recent years I’ve used DAC as a place to get blogging ideas for much of the summer. The Cadence Theater, in particular, hosts a number of customer talks that provide interesting blog topics.
Electronics industry publishing has gone through its own ups and downs over the years. In your view, what are the opportunities for the industry press to reinvent itself, in order to maintain its influence?
I think that reinventing is happening to some extent. Print has gone away and the activity is pretty much online. I think we are now seeing some websites that are doing a fairly good job of reporting news. Semiconductor Engineering, Chip Design, SemiWiki, and EE Journal are just a few examples. There are also a lot of bloggers now. You just have to think a little differently than you did for print. There’s still a lot of news, just different vehicles for coverage.
What’s the next electronic gadget that you’d consider buying?
I don’t buy many electronic gadgets. I’m interested in cameras and would be interested in gadgets related to photography.
What do you plan to do on the first day of retirement?
Whatever I feel like. I don’t have a plan yet and that first day is tomorrow (June 26), so I’ll have to start thinking about it. But the thing about retirement is, you don’t have to plan it all out.
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