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Anne Cirkel
Anne Cirkel
Anne Cirkel is the General Chair for the 52nd DAC and a Senior Director for Technology Marketing at Mentor Graphics. Prior to joining Mentor Anne held marketing management positions at Analogy, Viewlogic, and Berner & Mattner. Anne holds a Master's degree in Business Administration with an … More »

7 reasons I’m thankful for DAC and EDA

November 22nd, 2014 by Anne Cirkel

Thanksgiving is here so it’s likely to be a slow week in the EDA industry. Of course, like much else in our culture, this event has been co-opted by rampant media messages to shop and consume. Already I’ve seen lots of stories about Black Friday, mostly discussing whether the whole idea of a 24-hour window is now moot given Cyber Monday and the reality that the holiday shopping season now starts right after Halloween and stretches into January.

As a German I know I must tread lightly when writing about the most American of holidays. Turkey is not all that big on holiday menus back home and as I’ve written about in an earlier EDA Café post, football (or rather fussball) will always mean something different to me, no matter the success of the regional favorite Seahawks or my staff’s obsession with making their weekly fantasy picks. I’ll just say that I’ve grown to like some of the old-fashioned aspects of the holiday (a good meal with friends followed by a hike with the dogs, who demand to get out regardless of the weather). I can’t help but being thankful that EDA is not part of this annual shopping lunacy, at least not directly. Last I looked, the big three EDA vendors aren’t offering holiday-themed sales and I’ve never yet seen a line out the door for a piece of technical software. (That said, DAC attendees have been known to queue up for the free coffee, beer and wine that exhibitors offer almost every day — as I see it, much more reasonable behavior than waiting outside a superstore before it opens.)

Indeed, nearly halfway through my stint as DAC 52 general chair, the time seems right to jot down a quick top seven list of things I’m thankful for when it comes to the conference and the industry at large. Why seven? Let’s just call it one reason for every day of Black Friday, which at least at Walmart now officially runs for a full week.

  1. I get to work with incredibly smart, interesting people. My colleagues on the executive committee are an impressive bunch, possessing no end of graduate degrees and what amounts to well over a century of EDA experience. But the best part is that they are not one-dimensional bores. The group includes a pilot, a farmer, several world travelers, a musician and sailor, a textbook author and more. I’ve been introducing them for awhile now over on the DAC blog, which you should visit to learn more. This peripatetic bunch of volunteers is bringing a lot of energy to their work, energy that I know will translate into a vibrant conference next year.
  2. DAC is evolving — and improving! Yes, DAC’s roots are in the design of complex ICs and there is still much great content every year in this space. But the conference has changed along with the industry and now features great material on IP, security, embedded hardware/software and even automotive electronics. A few years ago I wouldn’t have thought that I’d occasionally be making my way to Motown to talk design automation, but a few weeks back I found myself sitting outside in Detroit, taking a break from the SAE Convergence conference to write a my week 21 post for my DAC blog. Last year, DAC’s first big push into automotive, we attracted enough great content to offer two full days of sessions on automotive electronics and embedded systems. Expect about the same amount this year, but better scheduled so there are no conflicts with parallel sessions.
  3. The executive committee gets along well. Smart, interesting people don’t always get along so famously. You know that old idiom — “the knives are out” — used to describe hostility? It’s usually said metaphorically, though in our case we decided to put it to the test by spending an entire evening with actual sharpened blades in hand, which we used to prepare dinner together. The only outcome was lots of laughter and a good meal at the end. I think this camaraderie is going to help up us serve up something tasty next June at Moscone.
  4. The DAC website is pretty good and getting better. Okay, this may seem like a small one and I do know is far from perfect. However, as many of you know it’s a boil-the-ocean task to build and maintain a decent website for a complex tech organization. Don’t expect us to emulate the TED folks anytime soon and live streaming is out (if Apple can’t do it, neither can we). Still, there is more and more to see at, including past keynotes, which are excellent. Check out, for example, last year’s dual keynote on smart automobiles by Ford’s Jim Buczkowsk and MathWorks’ Jim Tung. I can’t break the news quite yet but next year we should have more great keynotes, which will live on after the show. Have an idea how (built with Drupal) might be improved? Or how we can do better with our social media channels? Let me know.
  5. EDA’s future is bright and our past is worth celebrating. A few weeks back I was in the Bay Area for meetings and wound up crossing paths with two EDA stars — industry veteran, Lucio Lanza, who won this year’s Kaufman Award; and Portland area high school student, Anika Raghuvanshi, whose paper on logic synthesis had ICADD attendees chattering. Read EDAC’s statement on Lucio, Anika’s LinkedIn profile and my week 23 post to feel good about the generational breadth in our industry.
  6. Based and the pile of submissions coming in, DAC remains a big draw and is going to be as good as ever next year. If you’ve been reading my posts here or on, you’ve seen more than a bit of reminding, cajoling, possibly even nagging (in German the word is “nerven”) to get your submissions in on time. Turns out I didn’t need to worry. The first batch of deadlines has come and gone and now we’re already knee-deep in reviews of invited content. Check out my week 24 post for a peek at how we make our choices for panel topics, also a description of how DAC is different from other conferences in our level of involvement after these selections are made.
  7. In EDA, we get to be the enabler to the most compelling products around, be these smash hits, flops or something in between. If you’ve been around long enough you remember when technology coverage in the media was limited mostly to stories on whizbang features or geeky technical specs. Now, at least in the consumer space, tech is a bona fide cultural phenomenon, and coverage is wide-ranging, goofy and fun. That consumers now understand tech well enough to so easily make fun of it is in many ways a tribute to EDA. Our tools enable the drumbeat of new products that’s unique to semiconductors and that’s led to acceptance of all these new devices at a rate that’s unprecedented historically. Indeed, parody videos routinely appear right away after official tech product launches. These videos perhaps give marketing folks fits, though what other industry generates so many meta-commentaries that wind up being seen by so many people? My favorite one of late is this spoof of the new Amazon Echo:

    YouTube DirektAmazon Echo Commercial Parody

Those of you celebrating next week, enjoy your holiday (and keep your voices down since your new devices may be listening). Just go ahead and shop online and skip all the standing around in lines next Friday. Besides, at least some of you will be too busy working on your DAC research manuscript submissions, due Tuesday, December 2. Sorry, I guess I can’t resist a bit of “nerven” after all!

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