DAC Day #1: Samsung Innovation, EDA Acquisitions, and Magic Tricks

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A ticket to the Moscone Center in the beginning of June is so sought-after that some attendees even decided to camp outside from Sunday afternoon onwards in order to be first in line. OK so maybe they were trying to get into Apple’s WWDC that was on across the street, but there was still a buzz on the first morning as people queued up to get into DAC. Rumour has it that the difference between conferences is that DAC attendees are old enough to be the parents of a lot of WWDC attendees! However with age comes wisdom and experience and with that in mind there were plenty of learned souls milling around the exhibit halls!

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The first thing that has to be said is that the EDA industry is in rude health when a Google heavyweight is a speaker. Brian Otis was the man tasked with opening the conference proper this morning with his speech on the challenges facing IC design in relation to embedded biomedical devices. He has led the development of smart contact lenses that can constantly track biometric data and provide feedback on key points such as when a diabetic’s insulin levels are lower, and give a notification to the user via their smartphone (and not a shock or vibration, as I feared!). His talk made me realise that in order to deliver a revolutionary improvement such as this then it requires every stakeholder to look beyond their own specific area and focus on end use cases.  Of course, Google is fortunate enough to be big enough to make it happen with the help of its own partners and do this with contact lenses for example. On a hopeful note, the collaboration that takes place in SoC design means it can easily happen between companies in the EDA industry and IP design.

With Brian’s words in my head I walked around the show floor and realised very quickly why he chose to speak at this conference. There are vendors from all across the SoC spectrum; foundries, verification, RTL sign-off, software, IP, configuration tools, debug, validation, performance models and many more. Therefore this is the perfect opportunity to realise the vision of disruptive change through mass collaboration, when all of the stakeholders are together under the one roof.

Speaking of disruptive change, one of the highlights of the exhibit floor was seeing the Samsung Foundry booth with their 14nm silicon wafers as well as listening to the potential that 10nm can bring. We have all become used to numbers such as these but it is incredibly impressive to be able to mass-manufacture wafers at this size. A comparison to put things into perspective, airborne viruses such as the flu have a width profile four times the size of Samsung’s next generation manufacturing process!

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One of the big news items of the show so far has been the announcement that Synopsys are going to acquire The specified item was not found.. Adding to the long list of acquisitions in the EDA industry, it got a lot of people talking on the first morning of the show. I stopped by the Atrenta booth to find out some more. Atrenta were more than happy about the news as they say it will “help to accelerate innovation across the SoC development community”. However I got more than I bargained for on the booth as the resident magician made my wristwatch vanish into thin air and reappear in the middle of a seemingly endless amount of locked boxes!

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Shout out to the Connected Community

There are a number of ARM Connected Community partners exhibiting at the show, each day I’ll bring you a short highlight of one partner. Today I got the chance to speak to The specified item was not found.’s  jason.r.andrews.

We run performance models for hundreds of different IP configurations and SoC setups. Because we have over 10 years experience of doing this we are now able to make suggestions about what works best together depending on the IP customers are using and the PPA considerations they have. Another way that we work together with ARM is via our Swap and Play functionality that interacts with the Fast Models. Fast Models are really great because they work quickly, and what our tool does on top of that is allow users to stop the cycle at any time and get detailed analysis of a particular point they are interested in. Most system designers and architects know what area they are looking to optimise so it’s a case of providing them with the tools to really dive in deep and get precise information about what’s going on and how to maximise the performance.”

Soon after the men in the white coats came along to signify the beginning of Cocktail Hour on the show floor, and it was time to do some networking with a well-deserved beverage. Most people  tend to get engaged in deep and meaningful conversations over a beer or two, so the DAC organizers know their audience well

What's coming next in DAC day 2

I’ll be back tomorrow with my review of day 2 of DAC, here are the three events that I am most looking forward to:

  • Synopsys, Samsung and ARM collaborate to implement an ARM Cortex-A53 and CoreLink CCN-502 design on Samsung’s 14nm process at 7.30 tomorrow in Park Central Hotel.
  • Jeffrey Owens of Delphi Automotive gives a keynote on the innovations that will help design tomorrow’s automobiles in the Gateway Ballroom of the Moscone Center
  • Lip-Bu Tan, the CEO of Cadence, sits down at the DAC Pavilion to give a State of the Union address on the EDA industry, as well as answering your questions at booth 311
  • ARM’s williamorme, Cadence and Samsung all contribute to a ChipEstimate.com panel at 3pm to talk about next generation interconnect and IP tooling.