I’ve been attending DAC as an exhibitor since 1992, and serving on the executive committee since 2012. I am thrilled to serve as General Chair for the 54th iteration of this grand conference. (And no it’s not too early to think about DAC; the call for contributions is open now.) Through the years I have seen some big industry changes, most driven by the increasingly powerful tools and automation that this conference has been about — growth that fueled my career, as well!
My first job was as a chip designer at TRW, Sunnyvale back in the 1980s, and we had our own fab in Virginia, and my officemate wrote and maintained our chip design tools, as was pretty typical in those days. I worked at a series of hardware startups after that; and then took all that experience in hand to build better chip design tools. At Chronologic I led the engineering team that built the VCS simulator; then I started Surefire, where we built the SureCov and SureLint verification tools; we merged with Verisity and then into Cadence, where my team developed C-to-Silicon synthesis tools. If you’re curious, LinkedIn has most of the rest of the story, including the patents I’ve been issued.
All of a sudden it’s nearly the end of April, high time to switch from months to weeks (just six to go now!) in the countdown to DAC, which I can guarantee is going to be a great conference. One big reason I’m confident is that, as always, we have an excellent lineup of keynoters as worthy of a stage at TED or SxSW as at the world’s premier design automation conference. See my past posts on Peter Stone (Thursday keynote) and Lars Reger (Monday) for a refresher. And don’t forget the luminaries sandwiched between the two of them:
Tuesday back-to-back big thinkers will take the main stage. One is Louis Scheffer, a researcher at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Shcheffer has spent a lifetime studying whether it might be possible to reconstruct the nervous system, a challenge given the boggling complexity in even the simplest animals. The humble fly brain that Scheffer studies has about 100 million connections. The success of Scheffer and his colleagues in mapping a small fraction of those connections, the region of the fly’s brain that processes vision, warranted a 2013 publication in Nature, likely the world’s most prestigious scientific journal. (more…)
NXP Automotive CTO Lars Reger to open DAC Monday; time to register and book your hotel | There is no hotter topic in tech than self-driving cars. How else to explain the worldwide headlines after what can only be described as a modest little fender-bender last month in Mountain View. The culprit was one of Alphabet, Inc.’s autonomous Lexus 450hs, by now a media darling/goat. Despite the apparent and very prosaic facts — the Lexus was traveling 2 miles per hour, nobody was hurt, it was the first at-fault incident in more than 1.5 million miles of autonomous driving, etc. — the event was and remains a modest sensation, online and otherwise.
“Google was dealing with a pronounced shadow hanging over its presence at SXSW this week,” wrote Nick Statt last week in The Verge. “Now the fallout [from the accident] has found its way into nearly every transportation-focused panel discussion here in Austin.”
Autonomous bidding agents to robo-soccer | What good luck that Peter Stone, one of the world leaders in artificial intelligence (AI), is right here at UT Austin. Stone will give the Thursday keynote, an excellent reason for you to make sure to stay through the final day of the conference.
Every year DAC features something new. For the general chair, balancing tried and true conference elements with infusions of change is part of the art of putting on DAC and keeping it fresh. This year one change has to do with art itself — #53DAC features what I believe to be the first art show in the conference’s long history.
No, I’m not asking you to submit that painting you’ve been laboring over, perhaps with the help of last fall’s Bob Ross marathon on Twitch. Rather, this is a call for you to send in the best, most aesthetically interesting images associated with design automation today.
Examples include die photoshots of silicon designs, design floorplans and placemats, 3-D wiring or clock visualizations, lithographic images and thermal maps. But that list is just the starting point. Really, any image associated with how our community is helping to create the world’s astonishing array of electronic devices is welcome.
Mike Gianfagna is the VP of marketing at eSilicon Corporation
DAC stands for Design Automation Conference. Everyone: please stop saying “the DAC conference”. This may not be as widespread as folks calling an automated teller machine an ATM machine, but it’s still odd. But I digress…
This year, the 53rd DAC will be held in Austin, Texas starting June 5. I’ve been going to DAC for more years than I will ever put in writing. I’ve seen some marvelous things unveiled at this show. Innovations that impact IC design and manufacturing typically. This year will be different though.
Chuck Alpert, General Chair of the 53rd DAC was recently interviewed by Warren Savage on Take Five. Check out what DAC has in store this upcoming June and learn how you can still participate in the DAC program!
Memorial Day has come and gone, which means two things: summer is here and DAC is officially upon us. In just over a week the doors will open at Moscone Center with a blockbuster designer keynote: Brian Otis, director of Google’s smart contact lens project. Brian, the first Googler to ever take DAC’s main stage, is just one reason to consider registering for the designer and IP tracks if you haven’t already. Others include access to great lineup of marketing-free, engineer-to-engineer sessions, daily networking receptions (yes, you grown-up undergrads, there will be lots of free food and drink), the rest of the keynotes (did you know DAC is also welcoming a MacArthur genius this year?) and of course the exhibit floor. Not bad for just $95.
Times are good in EDA. 2014 was a record revenue year for our industry, according to an April 13 EDAC announcement. Several technology areas (IC physical design and semiconductor IP) and geographies (the Americas and Asia-Pacific) experienced double digit growth in Q4. The number of people working in EDA is on the rise, too: a total of 31,735 employees at companies EDAC tracks in Q4 2014, compared to 29,880 employees a year earlier. This rising tide is lifting all boats — including #52DAC, which I invite you to register for today if you haven’t already.
Nose around the design automation industry a bit and you’re sure to find mention of the goal to “shift left.” Basically the idea is to try to solve problems and add value earlier in the design cycle. Engineers usually first stitch together basic functional blocks of whatever they are building before moving on to higher level system integration and software tasks. Turns out this isn’t a bad metaphor for conference planning. Like chips and ICs, conferences work best when the essential elements (in this case, marquee presenters and core technical content) are in place early. I can safely report this is more or less true now for DAC 52—which is slated to be simply amazing when it’s finally “launched” this summer.