Sales of consumers' products have fueled the recent growth of the electronics industry. People all over the world are eager to be entertained, to entertain themselves, and to communicate anywhere and at any time. The EDA industry, that remains invisible to the end users, furnishes the indispensable tools required to bring such products to market on time and at competitive prices. Peggy's article illustrates the theme of the 2006 DAC, providing a way for the EDA industry to feel good about its achievements by looking outside, focusing on the results of its technology instead of just the technology itself.
Attendees at this year's DAC will be able to appreciate the high degree of sophistication built in multimedia, entertainment, and gaming products. Many of these products are pushing the state of the art both in terms of engineering and in terms of manufacturing. Much of the advances in both electronic system design and in design for manufacturing have been justified by the requirements posed by such, seemingly common products. The integration of multiple functions on one device has sustained the growth of the Intellectual Property companies and made them an integral part of the EDA industry


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Special Theme at DAC 2006

Prepare to be entertained!

by Peggy Aycinena

Prepare to be entertained - and to help prepare for those who wish to be entertained.

If you're a designer involved in product development for the gaming or entertainment industry, or if you provide third-party tools to those same designers, you're going to need to be at DAC 2006 in San Francisco in July. Because, there's a special theme set to permeate the week there, and it's all about where you live.

Andrew Kahng, Professor of CSE and ECE at UC San Diego (currently CTO of Blaze DFM) and Master Multi-tasker, is the DAC New Initiatives Chair responsible for of this year's special theme, Multimedia, Entertainment, and Gaming (MEGa), and he's very jazzed about the offerings. I caught up by phone with Andrew - something easier said than done, as this guy is definitely a moving target - and he filled me in on the details. I asked him why everybody at DAC, not just gaming enthusiasts, should take note of this year's special emphasis.

Andrew said, This year's theme at DAC provides focus on a key application domain, along with its chain of implications for EDA technology. In other words, a given application space has certain market requirements - for instance, cost or battery life or product cycle time - that drive the design requirements. Those requirements might include things like packaging options, or low leakage, or design reuse, and those in turn define special, unique challenges for the design technology and tools.

This year's theme, with its emphasis on multimedia and entertainment systems, sits at the core of a set of designs that are driving leading-edge EDA technology on such fronts as architectural synthesis, high-speed clocking, power management, verification, and IP reuse. Today's consumer-centric systems bring to bear all of the technology competencies required for cutting-edge IC designs and the tools that support those designs.

The DAC organizing committee is excited that these topics will be showcased in San Francisco, following in the footsteps of last year's inaugural theme emphasis on wireless design. The speakers this year will talk about roadmaps for the applications and the chip architectures, as well as the design methodologies - and challenges - that underlie those architectures. The 2006 MEGa theme will also see discussions of design enablement - compilers, programming models, and so forth - plus coverage of design for reuse. Of course, that includes configurability and derivatives, as well as IP management for the consumer-product world where competitors frequently find themselves collaborating.

I asked Andrew why the DAC Committee picked this particular theme for 2006. Andrew told me, There were many factors that led to our choice of this theme. First of all, multimedia and gaming are high-growth, consumer-driven, and very cool.

Second of all, these designs really push the IC performance envelope. For example, GPU operations per second are growing significantly faster than desktop CPU operations per second. Also, it doesn't hurt that companies such as NVIDIA and ATI are star EDA customers. Third, multimedia and graphics processor design teams tend to place less emphasis than microprocessor teams on circuits and layout - giving more emphasis, instead, to architecture and design enablement. So, there are interesting contrasts, for instance, between a GeForce or Radeon, versus a Cell/Xbox."

Finally, this topic is very timely. Not only is this the year of several high-profile products - for example the Cell and the Xbox 360 - but San Francisco's famous 'Multimedia Gulch' is also a hotbed of graphics and animation skills, and tool users. This is a topic of intense regional interest when presented in San Francisco. But the reasons for our choosing the topic go even farther beyond graphics and gaming."

Clearly, the world is witnessing big changes in home networking. Look at the emergence of the digital home and the ePC, and the wars for control of the set-top box. There are fast-moving changes in digital-mobile TV, in mobile-digital convergence, and developments on many other related fronts. Our 2006 theme of multimedia, entertainment and gaming is going to offer a great chance for the DAC audience to hear about the roadmap for applications, design challenges, and CAD challenges. I feel that attendees will like what they hear, and will have the chance to learn in the process."

On behalf of all my colleagues on the DAC committee, and all of the high-profile individuals who will be serving as panelists and speakers, let me extend a personal invitation to all your readers. I really do hope they will plan their visit to San Francisco around our special theme."

Andrew Kahng and the rest of the DAC Committee are obviously delighted with the way the MEGa theme is shaping up. Go out to the DAC website and check out the program, the speakers and panels. Companies and folks associated with the multimedia, gaming and entertainment technologies will be front and center in San Francisco in July, and you won't want to miss it.


Peggy Aycinena is Editor of EDA Confidential ( and a Contributing Editor at EDA Weekly (

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