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Brett Cline
Brett Cline
Brett Cline is vice president of marketing and sales at Forte Design Systems. Before joining Forte in 1999, he was Director of Marketing at Summit Design, where he managed both the verification product line, including HDL Score, and marketing communications. Cline joined Summit through the … More »

This Year’s DAC in San Francisco a Success!

June 29th, 2012 by Brett Cline

As DAC opened in the Moscone Center’s South Hall this year, it poured rain around the Bay Area and the buses with attendees from Silicon Valley crawled along the streets to the convention center. No one seemed particularly troubled, just surprised. After all, who hasn’t heard: It never rains in June in San Francisco.

No matter. Attendees hurried into Moscone under umbrellas, shook them off, slid them into umbrella sleeves provided by the convention center and rode down the escalators. Game on!

San Francisco is a great place for DAC and a bit of rain –– that stopped mid afternoon –– didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for the show. Booth traffic was great throughout most of the week, though it did trail off toward the end of show and during keynotes. Our demo suites were almost always full of motivated designers looking for ways to climb up the abstraction level.

SystemC and high-level synthesis have become hot commodities with the design community, and commercial HLS software has become widely deployed. Designers have adopted it for large, critical portions of their designs because HLS provides results that are better than hand-coded RTL. HLS includes control and datapath support, hierarchy support, custom TLM interfaces and numerous other advanced features.

As a result, we had a steady stream of attendees who wanted to see demos highlighting the benefits of SystemC-based high-level synthesis. This year’s demo was based on a real-world example that used an ARM-based image processing system with multiple control- and datapath-type blocks connected with line buffers, and other sophisticated interfaces.

We recently joined forces with HighIP Design Company, a SystemC IP provider who licensed Cynthesizer. As part of the licensing agreement, we resell a high-level, re-targetable USB 2.0 device and embedded host controller for SoCs and FPGAs in synthesizable SystemC form and Verilog RTL code.

We hosted a presentation in our booth by Phil Tharp, HighIP’s principal engineer, who offered a look at how he used high-level synthesis for the design of a USB 3.0 controller. For more details on HighIP’s design methodology, see a DeepChip post Phil wrote that appeared in ESNUG 500, Item 7 found at:

Once again, we hired a caricature artist who did well over 100 caricatures in two days this year, something we’ve done for many years. The first year, the artist used traditional paper and a drawing pencil. Since then, our artist has a team of other artists that he works with and has gone digital. We’ve seen various tablets and an iPad used. This year was a combination of a high-end drawing tablet and an 11” Macbook Air. Attendees get a printout of their caricature on the spot and they can also download the digital version from our website.

No DAC ends without the strains of Bagpipers and this year was no different. Forte’s been the sponsor of a live version of the bagpipers’ performance since 2001 and just about everyone left on the floor comes over to see the closing of the show. Peggy Aycinena of EDACafe captured the performance. Her video is posted on her blog, “49DAC Unplugged: Images from San Francisco,” found at:

Rain or no rain, DAC went on and the Executive Committee deserves credit for a job well done. I’m looking forward to the 50th DAC in Austin next year.


Follow me on Twitter @BrettCline.


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