3/17/2011 7:11 PM EDT
GRENOBLE – It's never too early to get prepared for the Design Automation Conference, taking place from June 5 to 10 in San Diego, Calif. A discussion with Leon Stok, general chair of the 48th DAC, and Patrick Goreneveld, the upcoming chair for DAC 2012, outlined new initiatives to break barriers and encourage an open and constructive dialog between designers, researchers, EDA tool developers and vendors.
"Last year, I started looking at different angles and started with a few questions: What is the meaning of a conference? What can we do for DAC to become more of a meeting place? How do we bring more users on the floor? How do we expand to IP block providers and foundries?" declared Leon Stok, vice president of IBM's Electronic Design Automation group and general chair of DAC 2011, in an interview with EE Times at DATE 2011 this week in Grenoble, France.
For the 48th edition of DAC, Stoke said he is seeking more interaction. An initial move consisted in replacing the traditional DAC party into four smaller, less formal receptions in the form of get-togethers.
Also, Stoke said, the DAC committee has tried to minimize the one-way presentation time to encourage constructive dialog. "Q&A will promote open dialog. There will be a more intimate setting and people will be less hesitant to ask questions."
A third initiative is the Work-In-Progress (WIP) interactive track, to be launched at DAC 2011, which gives participants an opportunity to present and discuss work in the early formative stages.
A WIP submission, the DAC committee noted, must specify a technical problem, outline a solution, and provide some early results. WIP submissions are reviewed by DAC’s Technical Program Committee, consisting of 80 academic and industry experts. Authors of accepted WIP submissions then have the option of placing a 100-word summary on the DAC website.
The purpose of the WIP initiative is to give authors a chance for early feedback on their work, and to provide the community with an interactive event that facilitates networking among big players and emerging companies, Stok said.
DAC is a unique place where you find the whole life cycle of a company, from the technical paper to the formation of a startup and then to the established company. However, apart from a few exceptions such as InPA Systems Inc., the EDA sphere has seen very few startups emerge in the last couple of years.
"This is purely a financial issue," commented Patrick Groeneveld, chief technologist at Magma Design Automation Inc. and vice chair at Design Automation Conference. "Now, we are at the bottom of a cycle. We can force the ecosystem but we can't force the money. VCs are more focused on facebook-like companies rather than on technology startups but it will come back. We will see more in the future. People care a lot about their mobile phones; embedded systems, software and low power issues are essential for these to work. We have a rule to play here."
The quest for enhanced interaction is also expressed on the exhibition floor as it now gathers EDA companies, IP providers and foundries. Stok said he expects DAC to become the crossroad where everyone who works on electronic design or supplies to electronic design meets to discuss what’s new, what works –or does not work- and what’s coming up.
"Over the last couple of years, foundries have had a presence at DAC, and we feel extremely successful to bring a foundry ecosystem. Also, an IP-SoC Village is being created to put a focus on IPs. A little theater will highlight IPs. Gabriele Saucier at Design and Reuse is helping us in this sense."
At this year's DAC, a focus is placed on embedded systems and software to reflect the growth in design activity. "A key question was whether we could we get to 30 percent of content on embedded systems and software. And, we have exceeded this percentage. Three out of four keynotes are on embedded systems and software," Stok said.
Groeneveld continued: "We have famous names on the keynote sessions from the embedded systems world. Steve Wozniak feels some pride and joy for engineering and has an ability to project them to the audience."
For this year's DAC, Stok said a key objective was to get more User Tracks, a forum for design professional to share their work with other experts. User Track presentations may be problem-specific in scope (e.g., analyzing substrate coupling during floorplanning) or may address an application domain (e.g., designing wireless handsets).
Stok commented: "User Tracks started three years ago. Last year, it grew bigger, and this year’s User Track includes a new embedded systems and software category along with front-end and back-end silicon design."
Patrick Groeneveld outlined the quality of the papers. "We have seen very good submissions this year. The content will be trustworthy as five reviews per paper are conducted by industrial people. This is not marketing at all."
Stok and Groeneveld agreed that more quality papers are coming from Taiwan, India and Chinese universities. The trend there is higher quantity and higher quality.
To raise the younger generations' attention, Groeneveld said the DAC committee is using social networking, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. A good way to rejuvenate DAC brand name.