Building the 45th DAC
DAC is not just an event: it is a continuing process. As one conference ends, another begins. Committees are re-constituted, post-event evaluations made, a new budget is planned, and work immediately begins toward the next DAC conference. Each DAC is the result of new industry situations and past experiences. The professionals and volunteers who work on DAC face the challenge of using what works well, avoiding what was unsuccessful, and adopting positive solutions to the new set of challenges facing the next DAC.
This year, just as many times in the past, the contents of the Technical Program and the discussions among the attendees, indicated both persistent hurdles and new challenges to be faced by the electronics industry. As the articles by Gary Smith and Richard Goering show, Electronic System Level (ESL) design continues to be a work in progress, and multicore architectures are the new challenge for both EDA tools providers and system designers.
Gary Smith shows that the industry has been only partially successful in providing a design environment that allows the joint architecture of both hardware and software blocks. More needs to be done, including finding a way to provide a common communication and networking environment for professionals in both fields. DAC needs to attract more software vendors and more software engineers in order to establish a discourse that will yield a common design environment. We are also seeing that leading edge companies are applying architectural techniques in solving analog design issues when targeting very deep submicron process nodes. Although some tools to enable such planning exist, more are needed. The job of developing and implementing ESL is not finished and the DAC environment is ready and capable to help.
Richard Goering's article identifies the most salient aspects of the multicore design challenge. Although parallel programming has been part of Computer Science curricula for many years, development of computing products, with few exceptions aimed at the small supercomputing segment, has been, until very recently, directed at improving the speed and capacity of sequential digital processing engines. Creative programming teams have adopted available tools to develop parallel execution architectures, but they represent a very small portion of both systems and application programming professionals. New tools are required to foster productive multicore development methods. The 45th DAC can provide a unique forum to explore issues of multicore systems design and use.
Developing a Technical Program is a demanding task. This year, as in the past, the process started immediately at the conclusion of the DAC in San Diego. Limor Fix details the various deadlines needed to allow for the efficient development of the program and its ancillary events. The peer review process that each proposal undergoes takes time. From November 1 to the middle of February next year, the various committees and subcommittees working on the DAC program will be busy judging proposals, setting them into a coherent flow, and constructing the best possible program for DAC's attendees. The work is time consuming, and demands both knowledge of the state of the art in the industry and the ability to visualize the interaction among the various pieces of the program. Volunteers accomplish these tasks: they do it because they see it as their duty to the profession they have chosen. They deserve widespread recognition.
Scott Sandler in his Viewpoint reminds us that the human element is the most important facet of electronics design. Too often we are lulled in believing that a CAD tool can replace professional knowledge and creativity. Engineers, managers, and executives must remember that a tool is not a solution, but rather an aid toward a solution when it is used properly and creatively. Scott's message should be ingrained in our decision-making processes.
DAC and the DACeZine are tools you can use in growing your awareness of the industry and the possibilities it offers. I hope the publication can stimulate new ideas and new approaches. Continue to write: your feedback helps us improve. And tell your friends to subscribe to DACeZine as well -- it is a very good way to get ready for the next DAC in Anaheim.