DAC 2019: Day 1

DAC is constantly transforming, but this year it is gambling on its future in Las Vegas.


The last time that DAC was in Las Vegas was 2001. Much has changed since then.

The first day kicked off with the usual ceremonies and then two short keynotes. A change from previous years is that keynotes are now on the show floor. This is presumably to ensure that once the keynotes are over, everyone sees the vendor booths. During the commencement session, it was also announced that all coffee is on the floor as well. We will see how that goes down with the academics.

The first talk, described as a visionary talk, is an interesting twist in that it looked at innovation in the gaming industry. Mark Yoseloff is the Executive Director of the University of Las Vegas Center for Gaming Innovation. “Discovery and invention happen very rarely. What is the most interesting is innovation and then we go on to improvement,” he noted before talking about innovation that led to the creation of the semiconductor industry and how we went from the discovery of semiconductors to the development of the transistor, the integrated circuit and finally the microprocessor.

Then he went through the innovation of gambling. “The very first slot machine appeared in 1898. But gambling only really started when a card shuffler was created. Initially people won too much because they had not mathematically modeled the shuffler. There are always unintended but lucky consequences to innovations. The shuffler led to the development of new games.” Today the shufflers are based on random numbers and if a jackpot hand wins, they can verify if it is possible given the way the deck was shuffled. Over time, increasing amounts of automation have been added to all aspects of gambling. Sounds awful to me.

The keynote was given by Galen Hunt, who founded and leads the Microsoft team responsible for Azure Sphere. The key focus: “How are we going to secure billions of devices around us?” He talked about how microcontroller devices have evolved and become more connected, leading to the notion of the IoT. “It is an organization revolution enabled by technology. It changes the way that relationships work. But when you connect something, you add risk because hackers can use the same connections. So how do you build a secure device?”

His talk went though some of the devices that have been built and the way they approached security using the seven properties of highly secure devices. “All devices are susceptible, but what does a device do once it has been compromised?” Hunt says this is how you get to know how secure a device is.

The Accellera luncheon panel addressed the issue of IP Security Assurance. Panelists included Andrew Dauman, Tortuga Logic; Serge Leef, DARPA; Lei Poo, Analog Devices; and Brent Sherman, Intel. Adam Sherer, Cadence kicked off by asking about the state of secure design. Dauman responded that we are way behind the curve. Leef says that security is badly defined. “We distill it into 4 attack surfaces and then we can look at suitable measures for each. But it is expensive.” Poo agrees that there are few verification tools to deal with some of the issues, such as side-channel attacks. Sherman says that there is momentum building to deal with these issues. Additional coverage of this panel will become available later.

The afternoon was spent learning about ML algorithms applied to the edge, and dinner with Mentor. During the day it was announced that SEMI and the Design Automation Conference (DAC) will co-locate in July, 2020 and July, 2021 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. This may indeed be the last DAC as we know it, or maybe a rebirth of an annual event that has been going on for 56 years. The organizers say that “this represents a game-changing combination of world-class technical programs and exhibitions designed to give engineering attendees a central event to network, attend technical sessions and get exposed to the latest vendor technologies from the entire design and manufacturing ecosystem.”

What’s next for DAC?
Even though DAC will be co-located with SEMICON West, the research, designer and IP tracks all will be retained under the DAC brand, according to Rob Aitken, an Arm fellow and the 2019 DAC chair.

“DAC is unique and it will remain that way,” said Aitken. “There will still be a DAC show floor and a Semicon show floor.”

What happens after two years is unclear, but the decision to hold ES Design West in San Francisco this year and DAC in Las Vegas generated a number of complaints from exhibitors, who said they either had to choose or spend significantly more money to participate.

At DAC? Support the next generation of engineers
For many university students, the Design Automation Conference may be the first time they experience the community spirit of the EDA industry. Given that there is a shortage of qualified engineers, a bit of support and encouragement can go a long way to fostering a desire to choose a career in EDA or chip design. Don’t miss an opportunity to welcome these students to the industry. This afternoon, there are two sessions for students to show and discuss their work. The first, a Networking Reception and Work-in-Progress Poster Session, at 6:00pm Tuesday on the Exhibit Floor gives students the chance to speak in detail about what they are working on.

The second session, the ACM SIGDA and IEEE CEDA Ph.D. Forum, takes place Tuesday at 7:00pm in Room N246 during which senior Ph.D. students will present and discuss their dissertation research with the EDA community. Participation in the forum is highly competitive with acceptance rate of around 30%. The forum is open to all members of the design automation community and is free-of-charge.

Plus, check out what happened Tuesday in DAC 2019: Day 2 and Wednesday in DAC 2019: Day 3.

—Ann Steffora Mutschler and Ed Sperling contributed.


TimingIsEverything says:

I am not sure sure if the Vegas attendance is so much a comment on interest in DAC, and by extension EDA, as it is a comment on Vegas being a looong way from any core Tech hubs (whereas at Moscone it is in the heart of the largest one in the world). I would expect a significant drop in walk in attendance (vs fly in) in Vegas, even compared to Austin. But it is also possible that, being Vegas, the fly-in attendance is actually up… that would be interesting data.

Brian Bailey says:

I can actually see additional interest from academics. They do not always want to come to San Francisco, but would love it to move around more – just like it did in the past. That is where the dilemma comes in – who pays the majority for the show – the EDA companies or the academic community.

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