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.
Archive for the ‘DAC’ Category
In tech it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that you’re either growing or dying, on the way up or on the way out. I poked modest fun at Apple in an earlier post, but their latest financial results certainly illustrate the point. By now you’ve probably heard that Apple’s $18 billion quarterly profit was the largest ever reported by a public company. At DAC, we may not be selling 34,000 iPhones per hour around the clock for three straight months (wow!), but we are setting our own records.
Technical conferences change over time. Consider CES, wrapping up now in Las Vegas after generating the expected spate of headlines, mostly about wearables. (I have a Pebble so I can safely claim to be on the cutting edge, or at least the bandwagon.) For starters is the issue of the conference name. You won’t see many references to the “Consumer Electronics Show” on the official conference site this year. Consistent with tech’s global ambitions and love of acronyms, the official handle now seems to be “International CES,” though the media doesn’t seem to have caught onto this yet. More significant is how content at CES has evolved, even recently. As recently as 2011, the show reliably featured a slew of new Android phones. Now, most of the big announcements about smartphones — I think there is little argument these are still the hottest consumer devices on the planet — take place at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
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.)
Okay, this is no hyperbole and I’m no longer just trying to gin up enthusiasm. The first batch of DAC deadlines is upon us. For those of you who won’t read beyond this paragraph, here are dates you need to know if you’re interested in participating in what remains the premier EDA industry conference. Proposals for the following are due November 13: panels, tutorials, workshops and co-located conferences. Abstracts for research papers are due November 21 and full manuscripts are due December 2; you can submit in these five categories: automotive electronic design, EDA research, ESS research, hardware software and security, and work-in-progress (WIP). I hope all those links help. Of course you can find more information and everything else you need on DAC.com.
Surely the biggest tech news since my last post is the new Apple Watch, finally announced September 9 after months of anticipation. I can’t add much to the volumes that have been written, except perhaps to issue my standard gentle reminder on behalf of our industry anytime a tech device makes a splash. Surely the new watch, and for that matter the two new iPhones that were part of the announcement, simply wouldn’t have been possible to design and test without EDA tools and expertise. The world may look at the watch and make declarations like this from Scott Stein and David Carnoy at CNET: “For fitness-lovers who want a smart connected workout device that plays music, the Apple Watch could be a slam dunk.” Or this from Farhad Manjoo at The New York Times: “The biggest news was about the old Apple: It’s back, and it’s more capable than ever.” Or even make parody videos that get the predictable millions of YouTube views (see below). Meanwhile I can’t help but think of all the hardware/software verification that Apple had to do before Tim Cook could take the stage.
Here in Portland summer is in full swing. Outdoor tables are full at the restaurants in my neighborhood and there are more people on the trails in Forest Park where I walk my two Miniature Schnauzers most mornings. And this time of year it’s more than feet that wander. Even as I hurry to keep up with the dogs, my mind is often rambling elsewhere, often to matters related to DAC. Some of these musings are making it into my efforts to blog my way to next year’s conference, weekly on the DAC site and monthly here on EDA Café.
I know at this point most people are thinking, DAC? That’s a lifetime away. But as general chair for DAC 52, I’m often brought up short during my morning strolls by realizations like this: We have just 10 months to plan this conference! Suffice it to say there is lots to do and, summer and eating and trekking aside, those of us on the executive committee haven’t been idle.
Last week, a few of us met in Louisville, Colorado to audit the 2014 conference and begin budget planning for DAC 52. Yes, it’s a somewhat tedious process to go through expense reports, vendor bills and registration data. However, we take this work seriously, understanding that we’re merely stewards of a conference that has been going on since the days of time-sharing on mainframes. Indeed, just as time-sharing has morphed into cloud computing and the Internet of Things, now among the hottest topics in technology, DAC has proven remarkably adept at staying relevant and even reinventing itself through the years. All of us on the executive committee want this to continue on our watch.
In the strange way that time passes, particularly in the world of tech, the 2014 Design Automation Conference is already feeling like ancient history. Was it really just last month that the Moscone Center exhibit hall was crammed with essentially all of major players in EDA? Whether or not you were there, you’re forgiven if you haven’t thought about DAC in the weeks since. In the last few weeks, the tech beat has continued to serve up big stories, including Amazon’s phone and Google’s Android everywhere announcements. It’s also the season of summer vacations. Oh yeah, and there was the small matter of a soccer tournament in Brazil.
In the years before I joined the DAC executive committee I often stopped thinking about DAC soon after leaving for the airport to head home to Portland. Not that it hasn’t always been a great show. It’s just that as is true for most attendees, the demands of my various day jobs always started to loom after several days away. This year and next, forgetting DAC is not an option for me because I’m the incoming general chair of next year’s conference. That is, in a very real way, DAC 52 is my job (or at least my second job), for the next 11 months.
It wasn’t all that long ago when hardware emulation providers heading to DAC worked overtime to get their booths filled with interested verification engineers with big challenges. Hardware emulation was still viewed as an esoteric and expensive luxury that only few could afford.
Fast forward to 2014. This year is prime time for hardware emulation, now a mandatory verification approach for all semiconductor designs. Left alone are a few analog-centric designs and a bunch of small digital designs. It is also become somewhat more affordable based on the price per gate.
I predict this year DAC will be much different than previous years as semiconductor companies, forced to accelerate time to market even as their chip designs get increasingly more complex, are looking to hardware emulation.