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Remembering Richard Newton: Electronics visionary

"It is with much sadness that we learned this week of the passing of Richard Newton, one of the pioneers and a true visionary of the EDA industry.

A Professor and Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, he was one of the co-founders of SDA, which later merged with ECAD to become Cadence.

As a true thought leader in integrated circuit design and electronic systems architecture, Richard possessed an unmatched capability for marrying technical insights with industry needs. He articulated the EDA roadmap 30 years ago, predicting as well as participating in many of the industry's major developments.

Beyond EDA, Richard was a visionary leader in the broader technology industry, and he was also passionate about the need to apply information and computing technologies to solving global problems and improving the quality of life of people around the world. In that regard, he played a key role in the formation of Citris, the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society. Now a large-scale, multi-university effort, Citris is attempting to tackle problems such as healthcare, poverty, and the environment with a multidisciplinary engineering approach that combines information, biological and nanotechnologies.

Our industry owes a huge debt of gratitude to him for his vision. He will truly be missed."

Ted Vucurevich - Senior Vice President and CTO, Advanced Research and Development, Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

"Richard and I had many a like-minded discussion about the need for a strong database for design. I guess that was the first inkling I had of him as an "integrative visionary". Over all of the years since our first meeting in the late 80's he was almost always the first to recognize significant fundamental changes that would take place first in our industry and in later years in engineering as a whole.

In the 80's, when many folks were focused on "algorithms," Richard contributed to "integration" of Design automation technology. In the 90's, I remember him seeing timing-driven implications as a holistic issue—not as point patches—and predicted a complete re-tooling of the digital flow (he was right) and later went on to be appointed the first director of the Gigascale Silicon Research Center, which pioneered the integration of all electronic system disciplines together into a cohesive framework.

As the new millennium began, he was way ahead of the pack in recognizing the implications of stunning technological breakthroughs in other domains (biology in particular) coupled with a real and growing need to utilize our understanding to improve the quality of life for far more people. He was instrumental in the creation of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Center for Synthetic Biology. Both of these programs represent the very best of what Richard was as a human being—intelligent, articulate, charismatic, passionate and full of a desire to help better the world he lived in. We will miss him."

Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli. PhD - Member, Board of Directors, Cadence Design Systems, Inc. and Professor, The Edgar L. and Harold H. Buttner Chair of Electrical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

"I met Richard the first time on September 1975 when we both arrived in Berkeley. Since that first encounter we have worked together on EDA and we have shared much of our personal life. He had an uncanny gift: one wondered whether his passion for oriental philosophy endowed him with the ability to see the future with greater clarity than the rest of us!

He had an unmatched capability of marrying technical insights with industrial needs. He was an entrepreneur at heart in research, administration and industrial endeavor. He articulated the EDA roadmap thirty years ago and almost all he said actually happened albeit with variable delays.

The business plan for Cadence when we founded the company in 1983 could be still used for a start-up today! He was a charismatic person. His students and colleagues were so intrigued by his visionary talks and initiatives that would spend endless hours trying to connect the dots and help Richard to make his vision come true. His reach was beyond EDA. The semiconductor and software industry at large benefited from his insights. He has given the speech for the Kaufmann Award since its inception except from when he received the award himself. His speeches were always deep in depicting the individual contribution but also personal as he would investigate the personality of the winners, spending hours and hours in researching the background of each. On a personal note, Richard and I spent many hours talking about our dreams, our families, our difficulties, our achievements. He always had the right word, never finger pointing but helping from his immense heart.

Richard was instrumental in guiding Microsoft and Bill Gates in his philanthropic activities. His latest passion, synthetic biology, is the logical evolution of his thoughts: combining algorithms, software tools and understanding of the application to yield revolutionary results in a field where lives could be saved and poor nations helped.

I cannot think of anybody else who had a deeper impact at all levels than Richard on the electronic industry."

Aki Fujimura - Senior Vice President and CTO, Technology Incubation, Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

"Richard Newton was a great man. He was a great leader, not just as the Dean, but of technology at large. He had a way to see the future. And his was a vision that took reality into account, the reality about the dynamics of people, of organizations, of governments, and of economic systems. He was a great supporter, not just as a teacher, or as a founder and board member of many important companies, but of entire industries. He believed in ideas. He believed in science. He believed in the human ingenuity and the will to succeed. And most of all, he believed in people. Not just certain people. He had faith in all people. Yeah, he loved us all. More than anything else about him, that's what I feel the most when I think about Richard. He loved us all. I miss him already. We love you, too, Richard. Your enthusiasm for life and for quests and conquests will live on through us. Rest in peace."

Jan Willis - Senior Vice President, Industry Alliances, Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

"Richard was a great supporter and mentor to many in the industry, including taking extra time to support women in technology. I got to experience it firsthand while I was at Simplex, a company that Richard helped to found. And his support didn't stop even when you might only see him once a year...he always had time for people, even if it was for just a few minutes. Let us remember him not only today but well into the future."

Domingo, 07 Enero, 2007 - 10:36
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