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James Lanier Hall

A portrait of James Hall




West Virginia University, BSEE 1973 »West Virginia University, MSEE 1980

James Lanier Hall is an employee of Cadence Design Systems and is responsible for the hardware system design of the Palladium series of emulators. He was with IBM in a variety of positions from 1976 through 2002. He earned a BSEE at West Virginia University in 1973, and a MSEE in 1980. He regularly visits the campus to meet with students and faculty members.

As a student at WVU and an employee of the computer center (WVNET), Hall developed software and firmware that connected IBM System 370 disk drives to older IBM System 360 mainframes. That work, which served as his MS thesis, was unprecedented because it required changing IBM microcode - not many students 40 years ago were in a position to - an IBM mainframe disk controller. As a systems programmer at WVU, he was responsible for maintaining the IBM MVT operating system software and eventually he provided hardware maintenance via unique IBM arrangement for that mainframe.

Initially, at IBM, he was responsible for development of custom integrated circuits used in point of sale hardware. The development system for those chips was mainframe based and Hall created new algorithms and design rules that increased logic density for the many other IBM users of that technology. Hall received an IBM Outstanding Innovation Award for this work.

Next, Hall served as the hardware team leader responsible for the design and implementation of IBM's first Token Ring LAN adapters. Hall's innovative "shared memory" design allowed IBM to introduce a series of cost effective token ring local area network (LAN) attachment cards for the IBM PC and mainframe controller market. This effective design allowed for media speed processing of LAN packets and set the foundation for IBM to sell tens of millions of these adapters in the upcoming decade. Hall received an Outstanding Technical Achievement Award for his technical innovation, design and leadership in the area of local area networks.

Hall's last 17 years at IBM were spent working for an IBM fellow who was known worldwide as the designer of the original System 360 I/O channel interface (in IBM he was known as having more patents than anyone else). During that time, Hall was solely responsible for the LAN attachment (both Token Ring and Ethernet) of entry level System 370 and System 390 processors. While a member of the IBM fellow group, Hall received three major awards for his contributions towards networking for mainframe processors.

After experiencing first hand the limitations of existing (internal and external) tools used to validate logic design, the fellow group invented a processor based emulator for use in validating their mainframe processor chips. This Emulation Technology (ET) evolved with extensive use within IBM and was offered externally via OEM arrangement with Cadence Design Systems. When IBM sold the fellow group to Cadence in 2002, Hall became the hardware lead for the Palladium (ET) series of accelerators/emulators - special purpose, massively parallel processor-based systems that are used to verify the logic design of semiconductor chips before fabrication. These multi-million dollar systems solely and uniquely occupy the top end of the market for hardware based, high density chip verification systems.

He was nominated by Roy Nutter