Design Automation Conference, July 24-28, 2006
June 12, 2006

2006 Kaufman Award Winner to Deliver Monday Keynote Speech

Joe Costello has accepted the invitation of the DAC Organizing Committee to deliver the Monday keynote speech on July 24th.  Joe played a key role during the formative years of the EDA industry and was regarded as its leading exponent in the early 80's.  Although his full time job is no longer in EDA, he still keeps in touch with the industry that he considers key to advances in electronics.  Given his experience in EDA and his involvement in both communications and multimedia applications, he is the perfect choice to address a conference whose theme is MEGa (Multimedia, Entertainment and Games).  The speech will be held in the Gateway Ballroom and will start promptly at 2:00 PM.  All attendees, including exhibitors, who have a DAC badge will be admitted to hear this keynote, so be on time or be standing!

Gabe Moretti, Editor

Let us know what you think: news@dac.com.

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Joe is Back at DAC

Joe Costello to Keynote at 43rd DAC
by Peggy Aycinena

Joe Costello is coming to town – or more accurately, he's coming to The City – to deliver a keynote address at the 43rd Design Automation Conference in San Francisco on Monday, July 24th. Although Joe is no longer CEO at Cadence Design Systems, and no longer in EDA, the industry continues to be interested in what Joe has to say, and for good reason.
Joe Costello is one of the folks who put EDA on the map. His flamboyant style, and success in growing Cadence from a $10-million company to a $1-billion company during his tenure at the helm from 1987 to 1997, left an indelible stamp on an era that some still think of, wistfully, as the Golden Age of EDA. Now, at least for a few hours – at DAC, Joe is back.

How did the DAC committee come to be inviting Joe to speak in San Francisco? When I chatted with Joe Costello by phone recently, he said, "It's simple. I'm chairman of Orb Networks and Luc Julia is the founder and technical brains of the company. Luc is married to Ellen Sentovich, who's a Cadence Research Scientist and General Chair of DAC this year. Ellen asked Luc if I would be interested in speaking because the theme at DAC is a bit different this year [multimedia, entertainment, and gaming] and she thought it was an interesting fit with what we do at Orb. Luc asked me if I would be willing, and I was delighted to accept."

Joe said the audience at DAC is an important one: "These are the guys who develop all of the electronic underpinnings of the future of electronics. Plus, there's a new wave of designers who are coming to conferences like this. I believe we're seeing this next generation in the industry flourishing in a changing electronics marketplace, and it's important that we software suppliers anticipate the exciting, emerging ecosystem that they're creating. So what will be the topic of my talk? I'll be talking about what direction the industry is going – in the direction of the iPoD or the direction of Iridium."
I asked Joe if addressing an audience at DAC would have an impact on him, as well: "Definitely! I don't think I've ever given a talk – at least, a good talk – that in the process of thinking about it in advance, didn't cause me to start approaching the subject in a more organized way. What are the real or the perceived challenges? What can I do that will add some value to that group? How can I impact on their work, and their work impact on mine?"

Joe said, "So, there are also two other pieces that will be in my talk. First, these guys I'll be talking to are the engineers in the companies. Sometimes they think they don't have that much power within their companies, but they have a lot more than they're aware of. I always tell them, and hope to remind them in San Francisco, that if they don't want to be kept in a box at their companies, they need to think about more than just the technical problems. They need to think about the larger environment, and because they're smart and have great minds they should force themselves to do that. Besides, they should know that they will lose a lot of gray matter if they're stuck in a box.

"I also will be reminding the companies themselves that when engineers are allowed to think more broadly, within a bigger context, they're more creative. The companies get better work from them and the customers get better products. If engineers are inspired – and I've been with these guys, and they can definitely be energized and inspired – everybody wins."

I asked Joe, if he were an engineer in his own audience on July 24th, what kinds of questions would he pose to a speaker who was admonishing creativity and out-of-the-box thinking? Joe laughed and said, "I'd ask the speaker, what would you work on – in what direction would you go? Where would you put your energy if you were in my shoes? What are the sectors and ideas where you wo uld invest your time?"

And what would be Joe's answers? Joe said, "Well, mine is a perspective not just from 50,000 feet, but from 500,000 feet. But having said that – first, I think we're learning to do a much better job of integrating design and manufacturing. That's certainly one area where I would invest my time and energy. There are a lot of different solutions out there being proposed to different parts of the problem, so I would work on the proactive solutions – the ones that seem to have more legs.

"The other area with a lot of activity, although it's not a brand-new area, is architecture. People are trying more novel approaches these days to architecture. There's a lot of experimentation in that space, particularly looking at some better ways to combine flexibility and probability in the hardware. I think we're going to see some breakthroughs there, so that's definitely another sector where I would put my energy.

"Finally, people seem to be getting much more serious about 3D design. I'm only seeing these things from the distance, and maybe it's way too early to know, but I also think 3D design is another one of those things that's on the verge of a breakthrough point. That's also exciting from my point of view."

And if someone in Joe's audience asked him to offer some advice to the folks in EDA, what then? Joe said, "One of the reasons I left the business of EDA is because there was a narrowing within the industry. The number of companies was already small, but it was growing even smaller. I think that's one thing you don't want to see in any industry. You need to give people plenty of room to innovate – you need to encourage the 'cowboys' in an industry who are willing to try and experiment with things. If experimentation in hardware design drops off, you'll have to have so much money to make even a small change there will only be a few companies who can afford to move things forward. I'm going to tell the audience that I hope it doesn't continue to head that way."

Joe acknowledged that the increasing body of regulations – export and accounting regulations – being imposed on companies is dampening the environment for innovation. He was adamant: "There's no question that this stuff is having an impact! Companies are being forced to hire outside experts to make sure they've got their reporting done correctly. It's very expensive, and it can be very depressing! Worse yet, if it starts to [inhibit innovation], it will be a tragedy for the American entrepreneur."

But, Joe's never one to dwell on the negative for long. He ended our conversation on a characteristically and hugely upbeat note: "The good news [in all of this regulation] folderol, is that it's hopefully not bleeding down to the engineers, because the technology these guys are working on continues to be so interesting! What they're working on is really all about the future. It's about dreaming how far we can take this stuff!"


Obviously, the DAC Executive Committee would invite you to come hear Joe Costello's keynote address on Monday, July 24th, at 2 p.m. at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

But, I would tell you to come! Cowboy or conservative, engineering or EDA – you'll want to be in Joe Costello's audience in San Francisco on July 24th. You'll want to be energized. More importantly, you'll want hear how far Joe thinks "we can take this stuff!"

Peggy Aycinena is the editor of EDA Confidential and a contributing editor at EDA Weekly

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