Synopsys CTO Antun Domic to talk on New Trends in EDA

“Not everybody will be working directly in AI.”

Global semiconductor revenue growth is expected to slow considerably in 2019, but after explosive sales in 2017 and 2018, even a flat year it is still a lot of revenue, says Antun Domic, a Chilean-American engineer and mathematician who has been a pioneer in the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) industry.

Domic, the chief technology officer at Synopsys, has helped shape the $6 billion EDA industry.

“It’s still good when you stay flat at the peak for a period,” he says. “The job market will continue to be very strong. People with backgrounds in computer science, electrical engineering, mathematics and physics are going to be in great demand.”

Domic, the keynote speaker at the UCSC Extension Engineering and Technology Career Exploration Series event Jan. 17 will reflect on Trends in Electronic Design Automation (EDA).

EDA is a category of software tools for engineers who design electronic systems such as integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. The EDA industry employs thousands of people in the world. Vehicle automation and device connectivity—two high growth industries—push the current demand for people with EDA skills. Domic predicts ongoing job growth.

“While AI will continue to be very important, for instance, not everybody will be working directly in AI.”

Constant Progress

The story of technology is one of constant progress. Domic who has been in the industry since 1981, recalls the days when a state of the art computer chip held a mere 25,000 transistors.

“We couldn’t believe it when we made it to one million transistors on a chip. Today you have chips that have over 10 billion transistors.”

Domic’s career has spanned from a professorship at Universidad Tecnica del Estado in Santiago, Chile to Honeywell Information Systems and MIT Lincoln Laboratory (where he worked on one of the first automatically generated CMOS 5-micron chips) and Digital Equipment Corp. where he led development of part of the in-house EDA platform used to design the world most complex 64-bit RISC processor at the time—the Alpha 21064.

At Cadence Design Systems he led the logic synthesis and place-and-route products, launching his lifetime mission to connect logical and physical design, “historically separated and mathematically different.” He drove the development of the world’s first clock-tree synthesis engine (CTGen) and the first front-end floor-planner (Silicon Quest).

The evolution of design

At Synopsys, he’s headed up engineering in the Design Tools Group and was general manager of the Nanometer Analysis & Test Group, and the Design Group. Under his leadership, Synopsys R&D developed the world’s first physical synthesis solution (Physical Compiler) in 1998. Later, the development of Design Compiler Graphical and the IC Compiler family in his group established Synopsys as a leader in physical design.

 “The advances in manufacturing of semiconductors have to be matched by design techniques and design automation tools,” Domic says. People interested in the field should be prepared for the demands of constant innovation. “Even though problems have the same name, what you have to do to solve them is dramatically different. Every couple of years you have to come up with new things to be able to take advantage of the new semiconductor technologies.”

Industry Forecast

In early December, the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics Autumn 2018 global semiconductor sales forecast projected the industry’s worldwide sales would be $477.9 billion in 2018—the industry’s highest-ever annual sales and a 15.9 percent jump from 2017.

“This reflects expected growth in all major categories, with an extraordinary growth from Memory at 33.2 percent followed by Discretes with 11.7 percent and Optoelectronics with 11.2 percent. In 2018, all geographical regions are expected to grow,” according to the organization.

At the end of the day, people have to be good at solving complicated mathematics problems and creative about approximating things, Domic says.

“Everybody is looking for these skills in chip designers.”

Domic, an IEEE Fellow and the recipient of the 2019 IEEE Robert N. Noyce Medal, lectures in the Stanford Department of Electrical Engineering. He is known for his love of Burgundian wines and interweaving his technical talks of integrated circuits with the work of master painters such as Kandinsky, Klee, Malevich, and Miró.

Career Exploration Series Info

At the Jan. 17, Career Exploration Series to be held at the UCSC Extension campus in Santa Clara, Domic will be joined by a panel of instructors from the VLSI Engineering certificate program—Ben Ting, Micron Technology engineer and chair of the VLSI certificate program; Mandar Munishwar, Google engineer; and Sam Huynh, principal member of technical staff at AMD. They’ll be talking about the skills people need to succeed in today’s job market. Ryland Degnan, co-founding CTO of Netifi, will be the keynote for the second half of the evening, focusing on Reactive Cloud-Native Networking With RSocket. SF Bay ACM Chapter Meetup is sponsoring Degnan’s talk

The event begins at 5:30 with an hour of network and pizza provided by Synopsys. Recruiters from the company will be available to talk with prospective job candidates.

Register early

Early Registration: Free
After Jan. 2: $5
At the Door: $7

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