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Neil Parris
Neil Parris
Neil Parris is CCI Product Manager for the ARM processor division responsible for interconnect products.

The Connected Community at 52DAC

May 18th, 2015 by Neil Parris

Ladies and gentlemen it’s that time of the year again, DAC is less than three weeks away! I will be in San Francisco to provide daily updates of all the major news from the Moscone Center for those of you who won’t be attending, so you won’t miss out on anything from the three day exhibition. The ARM Connected Community is the place to be to find out about DAC news, photos, videos, partner announcements and gossip from the show floor throughout the event! In this blog I’ll give you a flavour of what DAC is all about as well as highlighting how ARM is engaging with partners in workshops, panels and poster sessions. Here is a link to the full list of ARM presentations and panels at DAC.

When you look back over the history of DAC, there are a few common themes. One is the interwoven nature of DAC with another three letter acronym; EDA. The two have been closely tied ever since the first trade show for EDA was held at DAC in 1984. Indeed, close connections are a theme of DAC that I will explain further below as I highlight the many events that ARM is participating in at this year’s show. The other striking point about this event is its seemingly relentless pursuit of improvements in system design and automation.


Binoculars can only show you the second best view in San Francisco

Even DAC itself is not immune to the forces of creative destruction. The inaugural conference in 1964 was named Society to Help Avoid Redundant Effort (SHARE) but its name was soon changed into something deemed to be more ‘streamlined’, thus the Design Automation Conference (DAC) was born. Similarly, the content of DAC has evolved significantly over the years. Initially it was an academic only conference that displayed technical methodologies but it has since grown into the all-encompassing event it is today. In its current form it dedicates 30% to embedded systems and software, has a strong automotive section and still harkens back to its roots with an ACM/IEEE refereed research content that remains the backbone of the conference. On the business side of DAC, the industry it supports is healthier than ever. An April 13 report from the EDA Consortium announced that the EDA industry has broken even more records with Q4 2014 revenues reaching $2104 million, an increase of 11.9 percent. As they say, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and this level of unprecedented success for EDA bodes well for DAC this time out and in many years to come.

DAC is also incredibly important as a milestone for the year, coming in June it represents a half-way point in the year and allows one to take stock of what has happened in the 12 months since the previous time we all got together in San Francisco. Taking a look back 12 months ago makes you realise how quickly time flies by, as DAC51 was when ARM announced its acquisition of IP integration experts Duolog Technologies. Stay tuned for my next blog when I reveal a little more on how Duolog has become part of ARM, and what they have achieved in the past year.

This year will see a continuation of ARM’s long-standing tradition of giving a spotlight to its ecosystem partners within the ARM Connected Community (booth #2414). Partners include virtual prototyping experts, software simulation and embedded developers. Here you can see a full list of the ARM partners exhibiting at DAC.

“The connected community is unified by a set of common values”

In a landmark essay, James Moore defines the connected technology community as “a vast global collection of companies that are unified by a few standards and core technologies such as architecture, radios and signal processors. But what unifies them most – and this is most fascinating – is a set of values about openness of ideas and technologies, treating each other well, and finding creative ways of profit sharing and risk mitigation so all members can thrive”.

This set of values embodies one of the major themes of DAC; the feeling that everything is interlinked. There is a great sense of camaraderie amongst people from various companies as many will have worked together in the past or attended the same events for years. The same is true for the technology itself, with many small EDA vendors proudly proclaiming that their solution is compatible with design flows from the big design houses and industry standards. This combines to provide an atmosphere that is 50% tech conference and 50% high school reunion. The many social events add to this and let people blow off some steam and socialise after spending hours talking ‘shop’ all day. I’m a firm believer that real, lasting relationships are forged when people are a little more relaxed and open to chatting at events like the Cadence Denali Party, but that could be the Irish in me 😉

In an industry that is driven in a large part by the innovation of startups, it is crucial there is compatibility between smaller and larger companies. Small companies generally need to comply with established standards in order to fit seamlessly into the design flow, while on the other hand larger companies must stay aware of and open to new methodologies that could potentially take off. DAC is an excellent microcosm of the semiconductor industry as you have a number of different parts of the SoC supply chain:

Modern SoC ecosystem

Modern SoC design requires input from many different partners

I’m sure I’ve left out a stakeholder in that list so please correct me in the comments section with the other important parts of SoC design. There is huge value in each of these stakeholders being in sync and working together. Maintaining a vibrant and successful ecosystem is one of the best ways to drive innovation to the benefit of the industry and the end user.

ARM working together with partners at DAC

The sheer amount of panel discussions, joint demos and workshops is a real breath of fresh air and is living proof of the values I mentioned above; openness of ideas and technologies, treating each other well and finding creative ways of profit sharing and risk mitigation. ARM is engaging in a number of joint efforts to highlight what can be done when multiple parties are committed to working together. One example is happening at a breakfast session on Tuesday June 9th at 7:30am in Park Central Hotel, when ARM teams up with Synopsys and Samsung to implement a Cortex®-A53 processor and a CoreLink™ CCN-502 Cache Coherent Network on a 14FF process. It is only through deep collaboration and a generous degree of open communication that chips are brought to silicon, which is what we intend to demonstrate.

On a similar theme, ARM’s Brenda Westcott chairs an IP implementation session on Monday June 8th at 1:30pm in Room 101 that includes discussion of synthesis constraint methodologies for high-speed SERDES, techniques for mapping analog IP to different foundries, on-chip POP package co-design for DDR interfaces, using SystemC for hardware/software for ULP Wi-Fi IP. The concluding panel will be moderated by Semiconductor Engineering’s Ed Sperling and will showcase Xilinx’ Darren Jones, Cavium’s Surya Hotah, and EZchip’s Bob Doud.

Another highlight is a subsystem IP & IP integration discussion on Monday June 8th at 4:30pm in Room 101 chaired by TSMC’s Clark Chen, which will go into detail on design for analytics, IoT processor IP platforms, ISO 26262 automotive safe certification, and vision processing subsystems. The concluding panel will be moderated by Semiconductor Engineering’s Ann Mutschler and will showcase ARM’s Leah Schuth, Cadence’s Thomas Wong, Global Unichip’s Lewis Chu, and Synopsys’ Navraj Nandra.

You can get a full guide to ARM presentations at DAC on the Connected Community.  Make sure to pop by the ARM booth #2414 at DAC to find out our activities at DAC. What event at DAC are you looking forward to most?  See you there soon!

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