Taken for Granted

ESL, embedded processors, and more

Day 0 at DAC 2010: “Let us compare Mythologies”

Filed under: Uncategorized — June 14, 2010 @ 9:39 am
Leonard Cohen, 1956

Leonard Cohen, 1956

The title of course being drawn from Leonard Cohen’s first book of poetry, published only 2 years after I was born!

Looking back at my posts from DAC 2009, there was a considerable similarity between Day 0 then and Day 0 yesterday.   First was the CODES+ISSS 2010 programme committee meeting (part of ESWeek 2010 in October in Arizona), a solid morning of work, again with my appreciation of the excellent and thorough volunteer work done by the mostly academic programme committees of conferences.       Despite a drop of in submissions, the quality of ESWeek 2010 will no doubt be high.

Then the NASCUG 2010 DAC meeting, with some presentations by users and suppliers of tools on what they are doing with SystemC.  No particularly startling revelations or new use models – about 55 people in the room and a smattering of questions.  SystemC, after almost a decade, is part of the furniture of EDA and ESL just like Verilog and other languages.   It’s something you expect to see in the room, rather than something unusual and new.   Eventually the presentations will I am sure be posted at the NASCUG site, and video too (it was being videoed).

Following was the DAC welcome reception, which filled a room with several hundred people, a free bar, and a tremendous amount of noise.   The conference chair and sponsors could not be heard when they made their opening remarks, but it was a nice chance to meet old colleagues.  This made it a wise decision to separate the now rather traditional Gary Smith overview talk into a separate room, because the hard core who moved from the reception to Gary’s room were there to hear him rather than gossip at the back and drown out the proceedings.

Mary Olsson of GarySmith EDA first talked about the 3D and TSV (Through Silicon Vias”) technologies that she saw emerging and moving from the fringe more into the mainstream of implementation over the next few years.  Calling future trends is always a dangerous business and it will be interesting to observe whether this really becomes the mainstream, but there does seem to be considerable interest in these technologies along with backing from all the parties.

This was followed by Gary Smith talking about Design costs of EDA.   Richard Goering already did a writeup about this.  From my perspective, I am not sure about Gary’s categories of EDA users into Power Users and Upper Mainstream etc.    The power to name things – to name categories and create taxonomies – is an important one.   I guess if you use these as shorthand for methodologies, so that a design team might end up using a “Power methodology” for an advanced design pushing at the fringes, and another design team at the same company might use an “Upper Mainstream” methodology for a more conventional design, then it might fit.

Again Gary talked about ESL adoption and SW tools as the most important trends and the way to control design costs based on the ITRS cost model which he is the main driver for.   But the time frames seem very dragged out and similar to previous predictions, just moved to the right.   I am not sure we will really wait for the year 2025 (!   I will be 70!) for the “executable specification”!   I don’t think methodologies move in predictable 2 year time slices.  When they shift, I think it is more tectonic than that – the whole plate moves fairly rapidly.   Perhaps like the evolutionary bursts of rapid change that Steven Jay Gould called “punctuated equilibrium“?

Lots more to do at DAC 2010 and I am looking forward to the rest of it.

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