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#55DAC 2: Teams tackle deep learning in DAC design contest

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

 

When it comes to tackling leading-edge design challenges in fun ways, there’s no better place than DAC. For DAC 2018, we’ve created a System Design Contest targeting machine learning on embedded hardware.

If you think this is too leading edge for a design contest, you’d be mistaken: More than 100 teams registered for the contest. You can find a full list of the teams here: http://www.cse.cuhk.edu.hk/~byu/2018-DAC-HDC/teams.html

So how does the contest work:

Teams had the choice of using a Xilinx PynQ-Z1 FPGA-based development system or an NVIDIA Jetson TX2 development system, as well as software and deep-learning tools kits. Xilinx and NVIDIA donated boards to support the efforts.

Drone maker DJI donated a data-set that included more than 100 video clips with full annotation of the bounding box for the tracking object (a person or car).

The teams built either FPGA- or GPU-based systems to track people and vehicles from consumer drones using deep learning methods running on advanced embedded systems platforms. A hidden dataset is used to evaluate the performance of the designs in terms of accuracy and power consumption.

I can’t over-state the energy and generosity of the contest sponsors—NVIDIA, Xilinx, DJI, ACM/SIGDA and DAC— in this endeavor.  Thank you! It’s so rewarding to see industry and innovators come together to enable superb system design.

It’s been an honor to work with industry luminary Chris Rowen, and the University organizers Yiyu Shi at Notre Dame, Jingtong Hu at University of Pittsburgh and Bei Yu at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on this project.

The teams will be posting results at the end of each month, starting in late January, so you can follow their progress leading up to DAC.  Mark your calendars and follow the teams as they design to win cash awards sponsored by Nvidia and Xilinx.  Awards will be given to the top three teams in each category, and the top winners will be on hand in San Francisco at DAC to present their work.

 

 

Introducing the 55th DAC General Chair – Dr. Sharon Hu

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

My first time attending DAC was in 1991, and I am so excited to be serving as the General Chair for the 55th annual conference this June. Coming from academia and meeting new people in the industry sector who have been involved with DAC for years, I thought this to be good opportunity to introduce myself to the entire community.

I got my start in engineering as an undergraduate student. Both of my parents were engineers and encouraged me to pursue engineering as well. I studied electrical engineering and came to like it very much. Before making the jump into academia, I worked at the General Motors Research Labs for four years right after receiving my Ph.D. At that time, I was exposed to the emerging area of hardware-software co-design and really enjoyed it. Over time I began to realize that many factors in industry could constraint the choices of research projects that one can work on. When an opportunity came up, I decided to make the switch to academia. Currently, I am a computer engineering professor at the University of Norte Dame and love being able to work with students who are as interested in this field as much as I am. There is a drive for learning in these students, and I see the same passion when I attend DAC.

 

Now onto DAC 2018 and the task of being General Chair. We are a part of an industry that is changing and evolving, and DAC is a major part of the industry ecosystem and a large task for one person to manage as I have learned. Thankfully, I have been able to head a committee of people who are as passionate as I am. I’m proud to be working with such a talented and diverse group of volunteers from academia and industry that span many sectors including electronic design automation (EDA), design, embedded systems, intellectual property (IP) and semiconductors. You may be hearing from some of these folks over the next 10 months as we plan the overall program, so please take a look and welcome the 2018 Executive Committee (EC): https://dac.com/committees/executive.

 

The EC has a team building ritual during the first onsite planning meeting that is held each September. This year’s event was hosted by Cozy Meals in San Francisco.  It was a wonderful night of getting to know each other by cooking together and sharing our culinary experiences. As I hoped we would, this group enjoyed the evening and shared many stories and laughter.


 

 

 

There are a number of things that I really like about DAC, but towards the top of that list is the format of the conference. There aren’t many places where research, learning sessions, and exhibitions co-exist. DAC’s wide range allows me to hear cutting-edge research results on a diverse set of topics while being able to interact with friends and colleagues from all over the world.

 

And speaking of topics, I’m very excited to have worked with the EC in expanding DAC’s topic areas for 2018.  DAC has a perception in the industry to be an EDA software and chip design conference when in reality over the years DAC has grown its focus from chips to systems.  This year’s topics, which will be incorporated in all aspects of the conference, will focus on

  • Traditional EDA
  • Design
  • Automotive software
  • Embedded systems and software
  • Machine learning/AI
  • IP
  • Security/privacy

 

I encourage everyone to look closer at DAC’s call for contributions to understand how the conference has evolved over the past 55 years and see where you can be part of this expanding and educational event.  The call for contributions is now open and we are looking forward to receiving submissions for regular research papers, special sessions, panels, tutorials and workshops. The deadline is November 21.  Along with the research focused submissions, the Designer and IP Track submissions are open with a submission deadline of February 3, 2018.

 

As you can see, each year there are more opportunities to learn and keep up with the industry as it changes, this is another part of DAC that is so special. With the help of the EC, exhibitors, and attendees this year has the potential to be the best DAC yet.

 

#54DAC #8: Awesome keynotes show how our community has grown

Friday, May 12th, 2017

In case you missed it, we’ve announced our 2017 keynoters, a group that (including the luminaries giving SKY talks) gives you six more very good reasons to be in Austin the fourth week in June. All the information you need on the lineup is here. I know you are perhaps too busy to dig through this, so LMGTFY and share with you some highlights:

 

#54DAC 7: IoT: Tales from the Frontline.

Friday, April 21st, 2017

We hear from media outlets that Internet of Things (IoT) solutions will be soon be surrounding us in our homes, our offices, our schools; in factories and farms; working to make our life better, or perhaps working to eliminate our species!  Well, 50+ years has taught us that any new technology happens first at DAC, and adding credence to the media’s predictions, you will see IoT technology information and insights everywhere the 54th Design Automation Conference.

There is not some new job title of “IoT engineer.” Instead our familiar, experienced analog, mixed-signal engineers, RF engineers, server architects and mobile developers and verification teams are applying our tools and their skills in this new application area. Since IoT design elements touch most EDA engineering disciplines, we’ve made it easier for DAC attendees to learn what they need to know about IoT trends and technology wherever they are at the Austin Convention Center.

Here’s a sampling of IoT-related presentations that can be found in keynotes, SKY Talks, fireside chats, DAC Pavilion sessions and tutorials:

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#54 DAC 6: Program Finalized; Advanced Registration Now Open!

Monday, April 10th, 2017

A DAC winter meeting held in sunny Mexico isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. (Although we did enjoy the break from this winter storms!)

Everybody thinks the Executive Committee members are lounging on the beach enjoying drinks with little umbrellas in them. That couldn’t be further from the truth!

In fact I and 15 other EC members spent most of our February meetings in Puerto Vallarta in a windowless hotel conference room, refining the DAC program and finalizing the details of the big event in Austin, June 18-22.

The hard work of the technical program chairs comes together in rooms just like that one, during the winter of each year, as we knit together the fruits of months of labor by our sub committees to form a coherent program on the projection screen. This year’s program is benefitting big time from that hard work: It’s one of the most compelling I’ve seen in my 20+ years of either attending or being a part of DAC.

Each year it just gets better. Consider that this year the Designer Track has grown to 18 sessions, almost doubling in size in two years. This includes eight invited sessions, two panels, eight submitted sessions and more than 80 poster sessions. We had a record number of submissions for this year—149.

What else is in store for attendees? Plenty.

We put together 44 technical sessions, more than 130 research papers, 6 panels and 11 invited sessions spread throughout our seven main topic areas—Automotive, Design, EDA, Embedded Systems & Software, IoT, IP and Security. We.ve identified 16 sub-topic areas—from general business to circuit design to low power and reliability to test and verification—to help attendees better tune their experience based on their interests. Some broader areas, for example IoT, have papers spread throughout the program, whether it might be a poster session, an invited presentation, a keynote or a SKY Talk.

This valuable content—created by engineers for engineers—will be found throughout the Austin Convention Center. We’ll have content on the exhibit floor in the DAC Pavilion, in the hallways, meeting rooms on all floors; in short, all over the location.

Take a tour of the program here and start to tick off what you’re not going to want to miss. Me? I want to see the Monday afternoon panel Growing IC Design and Ecosystem in China, moderated by EE Times editor Junko Yoshida; Joe Costello’s Monday morning keynote, IoT: Tales from the Front Line; Tuesday afternoon’s RISC-V Implementation Considerations presentation; the Sunday DAC workshop on autonomous vehicles. I could go on, but you have your own interests, so check it out.

It’s easy to register too, and I hope to see you there. Maybe then we can have an umbrella-festooned cocktail or two!

Register for DAC at:  https://dac.com/content/registration

#54 DAC 5: Why DAC’s a better place than ever to exhibit

Monday, March 6th, 2017

You’ll notice something different when you walk into the Exhibit Hall at the Austin Convention Center this coming June. We are very excited to be featuring new suites from Freeman, one of the most innovative event-marketing vendors around. (Seriously, they do great work; browse their site for five minutes and you’ll see what I mean.)

Here are just a few of the upgrades that are in the works:

  • Quieter booths. The Exhibit Hall can be a hive of activity with demos and in-booth presentations and giveaways. This of course generates noise, great when it comes to the general energy level and enthusiasm on the floor but occasionally challenging when it comes to having quiet 1:1 conversations. The new suite walls include hidden sound batting to help put a necessary damper on din and make it easier to talk.
  • Real doors with privacy shades. The bigger booths include improved suite rooms for private meetings. Most spaces at DAC are highly social and public so we’ve made an effort to ensure the upgraded suite rooms are as private as possible. New doors have regular door locks as you have on your office/home doors, pull the privacy shade (each door is equipped with a privacy shade) and get down to business finally landing the deal or partnership you’ve been working on for months.
  • More graphics, easier to hang monitors. Your booth first and foremost represents your brand. We all know that lots of casual conversations at DAC start with “Did you check out the booth of…?” This year it will be easier than ever to have your brand shine by adding graphics and logos to seamless tension fabric inside or outside the suites. And the wall is sturdy enough that you can quickly and easily hang monitors with some help from labor but minimum work required.

You’ll find most of the practical details on how to get started as an exhibitor here. (One pro-tip to know is that the new suites are measured in the metric system this year. I know you can handle it; we’ve been talking about nanometer-scale manufacturing process nodes forever, after. But keep that in mind when considering your floor plan, submitting materials and so on.) And you can always email Stacy Dilallo or Susie Horn, MP Associates for further information.

 

We’ve come a long way, baby! Above a DAC booth in the early 1980s.

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#54 DAC 4: DAC’s Designer and IP Tracks and the limits of social media

Friday, February 17th, 2017

When it comes keeping the growth of design productivity exponential, a key barrier that fell in the past ten years is due to the increasing use of social media, which set free the exchange of focused, expert knowledge, from user to user.  On the web we have very helpful company-curated user forums; and often even better, the stack-exchanges which are user curated, where readers up-vote the most helpful content and as a result these are often the very best place to visit to get unstuck from a problem you recognize you have.

These forums and posts are all reactions against the underfunded, or poorly directed tech publishing team, tasked perhaps by marketing (or the simple desire to keep their employment) to only document what works; and never mention an alternative solution.

Of course a web search will also take you to the swampy places where all you find is others who are stuck with similar problems, and they just bemoan that the vendor doesn’t care, or take you through a litany of things they’ve tried that didn’t work.  One also finds the beginning of tutorials, part one of what was to be a twenty volume tutorial where the blogger planned to impart the wisdom of the ages for how to build the magical thing – and only part one got written – and even that is now out of date.

So, search works great — when you have an idea what the problem is, and you are following a large crowd who has been there before, and they’ve taken the time to create hints.

 

Going hands-on at last year’s Designer/IP track session, with no marketeers in sight!

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#54 DAC 3: January deadline for Designer/IP track submissions (and Texas-isms)

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Designer and IP track submissions are due Tuesday, January 24. These sessions have been among the most vibrant DAC elements in recent years based on attendance and anecdotal feedback. Chuck Alpert, my predecessor as DAC chair, explained why in a post last year: “Many of these technologists come for the Designer/IP track, a marketing-free zone aimed squarely at practitioners.”

The good news is that submitting is easy. All you need to do is bang out 100 words and six slides. You can do this, people!

More good news is the excellent industry pros in charge of these tracks.

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#54 DAC, 2: Executive committee members you need to know (and your first slate of deadlines)

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Time is the only critic without ambition. – John Steinbeck

Like many things, DAC looks decidedly different depending on where you sit, and how you experience it.  As an attendee, it’s mostly a few days at the start of every summer where you can sample some of the best technical content on the design of circuits and systems, plus get the chance to network and have some fun with a worldwide audience that spans execs to undergrads. In contrast, as a member of the executive committee, DAC is the finish line for a year-long marathon effort to bring the best content, speakers and papers all together in one place and time, building on what works and improving where we can.

Now is the time for a reminder that if you want present a paper at DAC (especially a research paper), the 12-month calendar matters for you as well. Abstracts are due Nov. 15; manuscripts, Nov. 22!       ­

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#53DAC, 7: Fly brains, trillion-transistor devices and tales from a Steve Jobs alum

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

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.
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