Why DAC and DATE still matter

By Paul Dempsey |  No Comments  |  Posted: June 1, 2009
Topics/Categories: EDA - IC Implementation  |  Tags: ,

Our preview of the forthcoming Design Automation Conference concentrates on the User Track that makes its debut there next month. Given that it shares many of the objectives behind this journal, that is hardly surprising. However, it is not the only aspect of DAC that merits investigation.

Also in the program, conference chair Dr. Andrew Kahng and Dr. Juan-Antonio Carballo of IBM are holding a workshop to look into developing a new generation of roadmap for EDA. Certainly, those that already exist are not perfect—although recasting the concept will not be easy either.

EDA is, by its nature, an industry that responds to clients who hold their R&D cards very closely. Meanwhile, classical scaling is broken and much of what will comprise the worlds of architecture and process within 10 years is up for debate. Nobody wants to force themselves into making big bets based on limited visibility and certain volatility.

The answer of course is for any new roadmapping activity to be as inclusive as possible. Again, a further question arises as to whether or not that can be best achieved within the existing ITRS framework or if it requires one that is separate but complementary. However, where Kahng and Carballo may be right is in deciding that it is time to put these issues back up for debate.

In some respects, this attempt to broaden the scope of the roadmapping debate also reflects a trend that was seen in France earlier this spring at the Design Automation and Test in Europe (DATE) conference, and it feeds into a bigger issue as to why conferences still matter, even in as severe a downturn as this.

DATE has been something of a whipping boy of late, and it is probably fair to say that its days as a top-level commercial exhibition are over. However, it always has been a very strong technology conference, and that was still true in 2009. Indeed, full delegate attendance (i.e., those there for the papers, not the stands) barely fell compared with 2008, despite global economic woes.

Going back to DAC’s new User Track, DATE introduced invited industrial papers a few editions ago. It has also, as many at DAC admit, typically been a step ahead in how it addresses ESL. And this year, its debates, sessions and discussions were impressive in how they genuinely encompassed the views of both users and various forms of vendors.

Solutions today are far more likely to come from consensus than from one company’s eureka moment. It is here that conferences like DATE and DAC (and ISQED, ICCAD and others) really come into their own, even though many may be tempted to slash their companies’ human presence.

Meanwhile, our report from DATE appears in the ‘Editor’s Cut’ extended edition of EDA Tech Forum, just posted at our website alongside coverage of the tricky area that is green design. Find out more at www.edatechforum.com.

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