DAC 2013 Preview I: Putting users first and marking 50 years

By Paul Dempsey |  2 Comments  |  Posted: April 1, 2013
Topics/Categories: Conferences, Blog - EDA, Embedded  |  Tags: , , , , ,  | Organizations: ,

As registration for DAC 2013 (June 2-6) opened, we spoke to general chair Yervant Zorian about what to expect from the conference which this year rolls out for the first time in Austin, Texas.

“It’s very exciting for us to be in Austin as it’s the second largest cluster for design in the US,” he says. “That makes us very positive about attracting a big crowd to DAC and we’ve been working very closely with the local design community to make sure with have an excellent program, both technically and socially.”

We’ll get to the social side of DAC shortly, but it’s important to note at the outset that any parties and celebrations this year aren’t just about making sure attendees have a both a productive and a fun time. Not only is this the inaugural Austin edition, but DAC 2013 also marks the conference’s 50th anniversary.

DAC 2013 technical highlights

But first the meat, the stuff that design managers want to know before attending themselves or sending other engineers to DAC 2013. What’s in the technical program?

“We’ve continued to expand the program to make it a more complete offering,” says Zorian. “We’ve been progressively going beyond being a formal EDA conference to being more of a design ecosystem conference extending into foundry, IP and design services. There is again more of all of those in both the conference and the exhibition.

“Beyond that, we’re continuing to expand the Embedded Systems and Software portion of DAC, because that reflects a very strong trend in design. ESS is now in its third year and it today makes up about a third of the program.”

Another philosophical shift on the technical side has to be move DAC from being a conference largely about tool development to one that emphasizes design overall by expanding the content related to best practice, economics, methodology and other practical aspects of implementation.

“That’s what most designers really want. ‘I’m at IBM and I want to know what Intel or Samsung or Qualcomm is doing. What do everyone else’s experiences look like?’” says Zorian.

Another recent addition with this goal has been the Designer Track, presentations by users not vendors about actual projects.

“That’s been a very popular one-day event at recent DACs, but this year, we’re expanding it to be a multi-day, multi-track feature, looking at embedded, again, as well as both front- and back-end experiences,” says Zorian.

DAC 2013 keynotes

Keynote speakers have also been chosen to broaden the conference’s appeal. There will be six DAC 2013 keynote sessions in all, two of which have been announced.

Dr James Truchard, president and CEO of Austin technology mainstay National Instruments, will address the growing importance of platform-based design in the development of heterogeneous multicore-processor and FPGA systems. It’s a ‘hot button’ topic that has been driving much of the content here on Tech Design Forum for the last year, and NI is unquestionably one of the leaders in the field.

Dr. NamSung (Stephen) Woo, president of Samsung Electronics and GM of its System LSI business, is another timely choice addressing a timely topic: ‘New challenges for smarter mobile devices’. If a key part of DAC is tapping into the big players’ experiences of emerging technologies, Dr Woo’s decision to address the impact of technologies such as through-silicon-vias, finFETs and packaging in the 3D era again reflects some key pressure points across the industry.

Other keynotes will be announced in the coming days and weeks, but while the speakers remain undisclosed for now, Zorian says one of these will follow a format that proved very successful at DAC 2012.

“In San Francisco, we had a joint design keynote that picked apart projects out of Intel and IBM with, again, the designers themselves going inside what they did,” he says. “We’ll be doing that again with two other major players and with a focus on aspects of communications design.”

DAC 2013 50th anniversary celebrations

So, given that those are the technology headlines, how will DAC 2013 mark its golden jubilee?

Party-wise, the industry is pooling its resources to hold a major event at Austin City Limits, the recently-opened purpose-built theater that houses the famous PBS live music show. It will be headlined by multi-Grammy award winner Asleep at the Wheel.

“The 50th anniversary part will be on the Monday night, with bands running throughout the evening and all the major vendors sponsoring different parts of the evening, consolidating a lot of the separate parties you used to see,” says Zorian. “That’s open to every DAC badge holder.

“Then on Wednesday, we’re hosting a celebratory banquet. There are a lot of people who have contributed to DAC over the last half-century and we wanted to mark that with an event and an award ceremony.”

DAC 2013 takes a world view

However, perhaps a more intriguing and pragmatic part of the DAC 2013 anniversary celebrations will take place on the exhibition floor.

“When DAC started, it was very much a US conference reflecting a greatly US dominated industry,” says Zorian. “But since then the industry has become incredibly globalized, and in many ways DAC can say that it helped enable that. So we wanted a way of marking that diversity and the benefits it brings.”

To that end, at 5pm on Monday, DAC will open an international pavilion featuring at least 50 countries that are now active in the electronics system design business.

“Abu Dhabi, Armenia, Egypt – those are just three countries that are now important players in our industry, and there are so many more,” says Zorian.

“We want the pavilion to reflect that, but we also want it to be a practical exercise as well as a celebration. If you’re thinking about the prospects for hiring students from these countries, or want to set up operations in them, or maybe just know more about those specific markets, this will be an opportunity to meet people with that knowledge.

“Our industry is globalized and that process is going to continue. The conference has helped that process in the past and wants to continue helping it in the future.”

So those are the current headlines running across the conference as a whole. We’ve been previewing specific aspects of the DAC 2013 program in the run-up to the conference opening on June 2 (see below). And once things start for real, we’ll be live on site bringing you the latest reports and news for system design from Austin.


DAC 2013 Preview II: Panels

DAC 2013 Preview III: Embedded

DAC 2013 Preview IV: Management and Training Days

DAC 2013 Preview V: Rounding out the keynotes

DAC 2013 Early Bird registration is available from now until May 7th. The current full conference rate for IEEE and ACM members is $695, rising to $815 after May 7. The non-member full conference rate is $845 rising after May 7 to $995.

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