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Q&A: DAC 2014 Going in New Directions, Says General Chair Soha Hassoun

Comments(0)Filed under: EDA, DAC, Design Automation Conference, DAC 2014, Soha Hassoun

The 51st Design Automation Conference (DAC 2014) opens in San Francisco June 1 - and this year attendees will see a reorganized conference with several new tracks. Soha Hassoun, associate professor and chairman of the computer science department at Tufts University, is this year's DAC general chair. In this interview she talks about the new tracks, the keynote speeches, offerings for software developers, and expectations about exhibitors and attendance.

Q: Soha, what's new and exciting about DAC this year?

A: It's the 51st DAC this year, the beginning of a new half century for DAC. We are celebrating the past 50 years and looking forward to the next 50 years. We reorganized the tracks, and that is a reflection of where we see the conference going in the long run.

We have the traditional EDA track, we have an embedded systems and software track that has grown tremendously in the past few years, and we have the designer track. This year we added a new track on IP, which covers designing, integrating, and validating IP.  We also added a track on security because it's becoming a major concern, and it needs to go hand in hand with other design considerations such as power and performance.

We also have a track that focuses on automobiles, which in terms of electronics are changing faster than we could blink. There's a lot of exciting research in this area. We've seen a little bit of a plateau in terms of pushing the abstraction level on design tools, and by focusing on various embedded systems and automobiles, we give people specific design cases. This is where designs are advancing and tools are being pulled along, and we are hoping this will benefit design automation in general.

Q: There are five keynotes this year. How were they chosen?

A: We actually have a keynote that goes with each track. For IP, we have a keynote by Hossein Yassaie, CEO of Imagination Technologies. For automotive, we have a dual keynote by Jim Tung, fellow at MathWorks, and James Buczkowski, technical fellow at Ford. For security, we have a keynote by Ernie Brickell, chief security architect at Intel.

The embedded track keynote will be given by Dr. Karim Arabi, vice president of engineering at Qualcomm. The EDA track keynote will be given by Dr. Cliff Hou, R&D vice president at TSMC.

Q: Like last year, the big three EDA CEOs are giving "visionary talks" before keynotes. Why this format?

A: We invited the CEOs to give visionary talks last year, and we had such positive comments from the audience that we thought it would be great to hear back from the CEOs about what problems they're working on and where they see the industry going. This year we have asked them specific questions on topics such as IP, security, and automotive.

Q: Why the focus on automobiles?

A: Automotive technology is moving very fast. If you bought a car two years ago and you go out and buy a car now, it's a totally different environment. It's all facilitated by the electronic components in the car, which are driven by the software architecture.

Q: Why did DAC add an IP track?

A: This was requested by some of our exhibitors. Many exhibitors do business in IP and SoCs. People are using IP regularly, so it seemed like a no-brainer to bring educational and research content into DAC.

Q: And what will the security track cover?

A: Anything from hardware security to software security. The idea is that you can't even talk about designing chips without security considerations. It's really motivated by where we think the industry is going in the next 5-10 years.

Q: You mentioned the embedded track. What is DAC offering for software developers this year?

A: We have a wide selection of offerings for embedded software developers. They include tutorials, panels, special sessions, and technical programs. These offerings examine basic issues such as coding techniques for reducing power consumption and programming on heterogeneous platforms. They also cover cutting-edge software design advances such as programming the Internet of Things, software certification and testing in automotive applications, and communication-aware programming.

Interested in knowing how industry experts view open-source embedded software? You can attend a panel on this topic and join in the discussion.

Q: What are your expectations in terms of exhibits and attendees?

A: We have roughly the same number of exhibitors we had before in San Francisco [2012]. We're looking at about 200 companies. I think we will have a very strong showing this year.

So far attendance looks strong, and we expect to meet or exceed DAC 2012.

Q: Finally, with so much information online, why is it beneficial to attend DAC in person?

A: DAC offers very unique networking opportunities. There's a reception every day at the end of the day Sunday through Thursday. Also, people who attend have a unique opportunity to ask questions in the sessions. With jam-packed days, and with so many technical presentations, you really get reinvigorated with new information.

Richard Goering

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