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Breaking The Three Laws
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    Breaking the Three Laws is dedicated to discussing technically challenging ASIC prototyping problems and sharing solutions.
  • About the Author

    Michael (Mick) Posner joined Synopsys in 1994 and is currently Director of Product Marketing for Synopsys' FPGA-Based Prototyping Solutions. Previously, he has held various product marketing, application consultant and technical marketing manager positions at Synopsys. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering from the University of Brighton, England.

The Value of Support and the Demise of USB

Posted by Michael Posner on August 16th, 2013

Including USB in this week’s blog title was designed to be catchy and an effort to grab a couple of Eric Huang’s USB Blog’s bazillion readers. It’s not really the demise of USB but more of the demise of a single USB stick. I tend to destroy pens and papers by playing with them while I work, this week I found myself destroying a perfectly good USB stick.

Sorry Eric, I am sure you are crying into your soy latte after seeing what I did to this poor defenseless USB stick.

When evaluating an FPGA-based prototyping solution or even when an in house built board is being considered the one thing I see missed all the time is support! It’s hard to place a value on support as until you need it you don’t know how much it’s worth. Over the years I see “lack of support” come up as the main reason why a project slipped. When these companies go back and look at their original evaluation criteria it suddenly becomes obvious that they didn’t consider support whoops.

Support should be one of the main evaluation criteria as only a fool would think that a project will go smoothly. It’s one of the simple rules of life, like death and taxes, something at some point will go wrong. When something does go wrong you and the project is not going to be judged based on that problem (because everyone knows problems are going to come up) you are judged on how successfully you solved it. This is why support is so important as it’s the key to successful and speedy resolution to a problem regardless of its source.

If you are considering building an on house board you must consider the post build support. This includes not only the hardware side of the support but the software tool flow support which will be needed to target the board. The cost of an in house built board seems so attractive until you fail to get it to work and the whole idea of doing early software development goes out the window. Same goes for the cheap alternatives on the market today. Who do you turn to if you have a problem? These smaller providers sometimes offer support, some send you the schematic of their boards so you can fix it yourself, some have a dedicated person (1). But does a schematic really solve your problem and what if that support person is helping someone else or is on vacation and cannot support you. Fast resolution to your problem could be the difference between a project success and a project failure. Synopsys has over 250 people backing our FPGA-based prototyping products meaning not only can you rely on our technical expertise to solve your problem but also local time zone support.

What value to you put on support? Post me a comment and let me know how you rate the value of support.

Off subject my neighbor cut down a hardwood tree last week as the trunk had split and it was looking to fall over onto the house. I asked him to leave a couple of longer trunks so that I could make both of us some rustic looking benches. I must admit they turned out very well, the picture shows one finished and the other in process.

All cuts made with a 16” gas (petrol) powered chainsaw. (Chansaws make a huge mess by the way) I then planed off the tops with an electric planer. The benches weigh a lot but are amazingly comfortable.

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