March 9, 1941 — July 3, 2015
Gary Smith, founder and chief analyst at Gary Smith EDA, passed away unexpectedly July 3, 2015 after a brief illness. He died peacefully in Flagstaff, Arizona, surrounded by his family.
Gary was the best-known industry analyst in EDA (Electronic Design Automation), a small but vital industry that provides software CAD tools for designing today’s complex integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. He defined market segments, tracked market share, offered revenue projections, consulted with major EDA providers and their customers, published detailed research reports, and served as a tireless advocate for more efficient ways of designing chips that may have a billion transistors or more. A blog post called Gary the “single most important prognosticator in EDA.”
Gary was born in Stockton, California, and he grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. He earned a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. After 6 years of active duty in Vietnam, he embarked on a career in semiconductors starting in sales for a variety of companies, including National Electronics, International Rectifier, TRW, Signetics, Telmos, and Plessey. At Plessey, he went back into engineering as business unit manager for ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits), which then represented some of the first attempts at customer-designed ICs.
At LSI Logic, Gary became a CAD methodologist as well as an evangelist for the emerging register-transfer level (RTL) design methodology. This design methodology, which was widely adopted in the late 1980s and early 1990s, allowed engineers to work at a much higher level of abstraction than gate-level schematics. It thus made possible the design of chips with hundreds of millions of transistors.
In 1994 Gary went to work as an EDA industry analyst for research firm Dataquest (later known as Gartner Dataquest). For his lengthy tenure there, lasting until 2006, Gary was an authoritative, independent spokesperson who was widely quoted in the electronics trade press whenever EDA was mentioned. He was also a strong advocate of system-level design, often called Electronic System Level (ESL), which provides an even higher abstraction level than RTL and helps engineers design both hardware and software.
Finally, Gary launched Gary Smith EDA in 2006 with several other former Gartner Dataquest analysts. Today the company is a provider of market intelligence and advisory services for the global EDA market. The company offers market share reports, research reports, an annual “What to see at DAC” (Design Automation Conference) list, Wallcharts that depict EDA vendor classifications, and more.
Outside of work, Gary was an accomplished musician, and he played bass guitar for the Los Gatos Blues Band. He was also a member of the Full Disclosure Blues Band, which had its debut at DAC 2001. Gary’s interests also included Eastern and Western philosophies, travel, history, and time with family.
Gary is survived by his wife, Lori Kate Smith; son Casey Smith; daughter Tamara Stewart; daughter Kim Tagle; granddaughter Rachel Tagle; granddaughter Shannon Stewart; brother Richard Smith; and sister Susan Stucky. A memorial service is being held at 11am on Sunday, July 12 in San Jose, CA at the DoubleTree Hotel in the Donner Room. For further information, see the Gary Smith EDA web site at https://www.garysmitheda.com. Lori Kate and the family kindly request that you share your favorite stories and pictures at [email protected].
written by Richard Goering