Gary Smith EDA Gary Smith EDA (GSEDA) is the leading provider of market intelligence and advisory services for the global Electronic Design Automation (EDA), Electronic System Level (ESL) design, and related technology markets.

    "ASP-DAC 2008"

    ASP-DAC 2008

    • ASP-DAC is one of the major design conferences of the year, the Asian equivalent of DATE in Europe and DAC in the US. Attending ASP-DAC is by far the fastest way to keep up with the Asian design viewpoint. This year ASP-DAC 2008 was held in Seoul, Korea in one of its periodic wanderings into the major design centers of Asia from its roots in Japan. The CONDEX venue proved to be as well chosen as the Yokohama convention center.

      Jan Rabaey of the University of California at Berkeley kicked it off with a very thought provoking keynote. He was discussing System-Level Design (SLD) but he made it clear the he wasn’t talking about Electronic System Level design (ESL) or even System Design Automation (SDA), both terms which concentrate on SoC design or at best a system in a box. Although it’s true that in SDA’s case that box could be a car or a plane, what he was referring to was a distributed system where the system could be worldwide. Interestingly a lot of the research that was carried out by Bell Labs in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s had to do with what they called long lines (the nation wide distributed telephone infrastructure). This was the predecessor to what Jan was talking about. Even more interestingly, some of that research in simulation and routing ended up being applied to IC design. Maybe the virtualization technology Jan was calling for isn’t as far out of the box as we think it is.

      One of the reoccurring themes at ASP-DAC this year was Networks on Chips (NoC). One of the complaints about the OSCI 2.0 release is that it is based on bus protocol and therefore doesn’t work in NoC designs. The standards community is having a hard time keeping up with the rapidly changing world of ESL.

      Another topic of interest was the battle between model-based ESL and language-based ESL methods. These two approaches seem to be the major cause of confusion over the definition of ESL. Of course ESL includes both methods; however, the difficulty in using a model-based design is hard enough for any engineering team, even before they complicate the design by the lack of a complete language-based flow to complete their SoC.

      F. C. Tseng, Vice Chairman of TSMC, gave a very intriguing keynote address. He had a little different slant on the emerging Semiconductor Research Consortia because he included IMEC. He called them Intel (stand alone), IBM and IMEC, acknowledging that TSMC was part of the IMEC group. As a response to the question on TSMC’s position on Restrictive Design Rules (RDR) he said that they had started a program four years ago but had recently cancelled the effort after their customers had rejected the idea as too restrictive.

      Yes, ASP-DAC 2008 was a very interesting conference.

      Mary A. Olsson
      Gary Smith
      Laurie Balch

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