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New EDAC Executive Director Looks to Revitalize Organization

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By Jeff Dorsch, Continuing Editor

“We need to put more panache around EDA.”

That’s Bob Smith, the new executive director of the EDA Consortium, speaking Tuesday afternoon at the Design Automation Conference.

EDA, as most of you know, stands for electronic design automation. The EDA Consortium was formed in 1989 and incorporated in 1992, when the design software business was in its heyday.

Fast forward to 2015, where DAC isn’t sprawling throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center and spilling into the big Vegas hotels. This year’s DAC exhibits fit nicely into the South Hall of the Moscone Center in San Francisco, with plenty of room to spare.

Smith, an industry veteran, acknowledges that the “classic EDA tools have stabilized, slowed,” as the design software business has matured and consolidated. He wants to draw more semiconductor intellectual property and embedded chip technology companies into the organization, while also looking overseas to China, Israel, and Europe for growth.

“Maybe we need to change the name of the organization,” Smith says.

ARM Holdings is a member of EDAC, and Smith would like to get more IP firms into the fold. Embedded electronics is a related technology, yet it’s more software-oriented than the traditional EDA industry. “Software doesn’t have a tape-out,” he notes.

IC packaging is another area that Smith is looking to in expanding the worldview of EDAC.

EDAC possesses “really good committees” overseeing such issues as export restrictions and piracy, Smith says. He would like to offer more services to EDAC members in those areas.

In China, the government is putting millions of dollars into bolstering its domestic semiconductor industry, an initiative that could lead to membership opportunities in that country, according to Smith. “There’s a lot of startup activity,” he says.

Israel has a well-established community in design verification technology and a “vibrant market,” Smith observes. “A lot of semiconductor design goes on in Israel.”

At the same time, “Europe is still important,” and Smith doesn’t want to neglect the EDA firms there.

The annual Phil Kaufman Award is one of EDAC’s best-known activities; it co-sponsors the award with the IEEE Council on Electronic Design Automation (CEDA). Last year’s honoree was Lucio Lanza, a long-time EDA entrepreneur and investor. EDAC is accepting nominations for the 2015 Phil Kaufman Award through June 30.

Smith last month succeeded Robert Gardner, who retired after being involved with EDAC since 1996.

“I’m an engineer by training,” Smith says. “I have been in marketing and business development for a long time.”

Smith most recently held a top executive position with Uniquify, and will continue to consult for that firm. He earlier worked for a number of companies, including IKOS Systems, LogicVision, Magma Design Automation, and Synopsys.

He was involved in “building the brand” at Magma, which went public in 2001 and was acquired by Synopsys in 2012. Smith plans to use his industry experience “taking it up a level” with EDAC, he says.

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