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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Shishpal Rawat: Intel, CEDA, Accellera, Calm Commitment

July 14th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena

Intel’s Shishpal Rawat has been Chair of Accellera for 6 years and is currently serving as President of CEDA
, IEEE’s Council on Electronic Design Automation. In previous discussions, Rawat has insisted that his leadership is not what makes these organizations work. Only the enthusiastic efforts of the many members guarantee that both Accellera and CEDA continue to shape ideas, standards, and forward progress within design automation and its adjacent technologies.

Two years ago, I enjoyed a lengthy interview with Rawat about all of this, described here. This year, I’ve chatted with Rawat at DVCon in San Jose in March, and again by phone just prior to DAC in June. During the phone call, Rawat focused on CEDA’s activities at DAC in Austin. He told me the upcoming Sunday night panel, set to be moderated by SRC’s Bill Joyner on June 5th, was a new and very exciting addition to the DAC program.

Many know that last year at DAC in San Francisco, CEDA hosted a fascinating evening event – a competition between teams of academics whose proposals for further research into the EDA Blue Sky were judged by the audience and a panel of industry experts.

I attended that event in 2015, it was definitely exciting and very fun. Senior members of the EDA Academy competing against each other in a lively spirit of discourse and disagreement. [CEDA Nerd Fest @ DAC: Expanding the Reach of DA]

On our recent phone call in June, however, Rawat said the competition format would not be repeated this year at DAC. Instead, the 2016 CEDA evening event would showcase a different kind of excitement – that of young professionals in EDA offering optimism and career advice to up-and-coming technologists interested in hearing about opportunities in both academia and industry.

“This will be a new event we are trying out for the first time,” Rawat said. “Hopefully it will inspire students attending DAC to view the many different option available for their careers.”

He certainly sold me on attending the program in Austin where thanks to Bill Joyner and his speakers, the panel proved to be everything Rawat had promised and more. Again, a significant contribution to DAC from the folks at CEDA. [CEDA Panel: Covering new ground at DAC 2016]

Meanwhile, in our pre-DAC phone call Rawat also mentioned the upcoming Young Faculty Workshop in Austin. Sponsored by CEDA, as well as Cadence, ACM-Sigda, and NSF, this is a long-standing event that holds a special place in the hearts of all academics laboring away in EDA.

I asked Rawat if he would be attending.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “I have a CEDA meeting that I must attend all day on Sunday, so I will miss the Faculty Workshop.”

He seemed sharply disappointed by that schedule conflict, so I laughed and asked what could possibly take all day to hash out at a CEDA meeting on the first Sunday of DAC.

Rawat replied graciously, “One important part of the day is for CEDA’s Executive Committee to review the progress that has been made in our conferences – including DAC and ICCAD –  our publications, journals and so on, and various technical activities in our chapters. Where we have been and where we want to go.

“Later in the day, we will make presentations to CEDA’s Board of Governors with suggestions for changes to the magazines, and other such things.”

“By the way,” he added, “the Board of Governors meeting is open to the public – typically all IEEE members who attend DAC. If you want to attend, you would be welcome.”

Again I laughed, “I’ve already over-spent $200 to register for the Sunday Workshop on Cyber-Physical Systems in Austin, so I can’t attend the CEDA meeting, but thank you!”

I asked Rawat to remind me how long CEDA has been around, and how does he perceive its impact on the industry to date.

He said, “We are in our 11th year – and yes, we have definitely had an impact. Previously, all of these efforts were spread across various societies within IEEE. But with CEDA, we have been able to focus on the growth areas in the technology.

“We serve our community well, paying close attention to the conferences we participate in and evolving our magazines, in particular IEEE Design & Test.”

“CEDA is also responsible for IEEE Embedded Systems Letter, the IEEE Transactions on Computer Aided Design of Integrated Circuits & Systems, and we are sponsors of both DAC and DATE.”

I mentioned seeing Rawat at EDPS in Monterey in April.

He said, “Yes, EDPS is another excellent conference,” and added that attending these types of focused meetings is part of his responsibilities as CEDA president, keeping tabs on what topics and trends are of interest.

“And Accellera,” I asked, “how are things progressing there?”

Before he answered, I reminded him that one definition of a workaholic might be someone who has a full time job, yet serves in a leadership role in two different technical societies.

Rawat laughed, “Well, at Accellera we are very busy trying to pull off DVCon in China.

“Of course, we have already launched in Europe and India, but we are still working out the details in China. There are definitely challenges, but we think we will have one there in 2017.”

Word on the street, I offered, is that DVCon India and DVCon Europe has both been very successful.

Rawat confirmed: “Yes, they have been very successful, thanks in large part to a lot of effort from the local communities there.

“Because those communities have the responsibility for setting their agendas from year to year – whether it be tools, technology, standards – the engineers who are attending the conferences in India or Europe are definitely learning things that are useful for their work.”

Do engineers glean equally practical info from DAC, I asked.

Rawat replied, “At DAC, there is some focus for the practicing engineer, and some focus for academia – here is where the tools currently work well, and where they can be improved.

“But what you see in a DVCon program is where the industry is going with UVM, SystemC, AMS, and so forth – topics that are very pragmatic. That has always been the focus for DVCon.”

But why, I asked, does there have to be a divide? Why can’t a conference embody the joining together of the academic and the pragmatic?

“When does a research idea reach the practitioner, is what you are really asking,” Rawat answered, invoking his own professional experience.

“I’ve been at Intel in strategic planning and funding for a very long time. I’ve seen new ideas over the years take a lot of time to develop into something that practicing engineers can use.

“But new ideas from academia need a gestation period. Anything that develops in academia is still only an idea or a concept, something that can take years to develop.

“And it takes even more time to be implemented in software, often 6-to-7 years to mature into something robust enough for an engineer to use.”

Rawat re-iterated that DAC and DVCon serve different purposes along the evolutionary time line of design technologies.

“DVCon, and things like DesignCon, are types of conferences where practical topics of verification and validation can be discussed,” he said.

“DAC, however, sets out a different set of goals.”

We ended our chat with the question journalists love to ask of people who work in the EDA user community: What do you do if the tools from third-party vendors don’t evolve fast enough?

Rawat took off his CEDA and Accellera hats, and put on his Intel one instead: “If the tools aren’t there, it has always been the case that people will develop them internally.

“The EDA industry, therefore, has to figure out where the majority of their users and customers are – they usually will develop tools for that clientele.

“But still, if there’s something unique that’s needed – a solution for a unique problem that the commodity solutions can’t address – then yes, the company has to develop a solution internally.

“That’s always the trade-off – the unique solution versus the commodity solution.”

Knowing Rawat will be involved with both CEDA and Accellera for the foreseeable future, I asked him to predict where CEDA, Accellera – and Intel – would be 5 years from now.

“Actually, I am working in a group at Intel that is looking at all of the components of design that the company needs – IP, design tools, lab equipment, professional services.

“As companies like Intel, and organizations like CEDA and Accellera, work on all of this – it is pretty exciting today. And that will definitely still be the case in 5 years!”

Clearly Shishpal Rawat is committed to continued progress in design automation everywhere from academia to industry, and in the conferences and communications that knit these communities together. But surely he can’t always be calm and carrying on.

Are you very organized, I asked, hoping to unearth something like an Achilles heel in an individual who wears three different hats with such cool aplomb.

Again, gracious to a fault, he laughed and answered: “I am not unorganized.”


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