[Ambassadors] [Event Report] VLSI Design Conference, January 5-10, 2013, Pune, India

Shakthi Kannan shakthimaan at gmail.com
Wed Jan 16 09:42:53 UTC 2013


The 26th International Conference on VLSI Design 2013 and the 12th
International Conference on Embedded Systems [1] was held at the Hyatt
Regency [2], Pune, India between January 5-10, 2013. The first two
days were tutorial sessions, while the main conference began on
Monday, January 7, 2013.

Day 1: Tutorial

On the first day, I attended the tutorial on "Concept to Product -
Design, Verification & Test: A Tutorial" by Prof. Kewal Saluja [3],
and Prof. Virendra Singh [4]. Prof. Saluja started the tutorial with
an introduction and history of VLSI. An overview of the VLSI
realization process was given with an emphasis on synthesis.  The
theme of the conference was "green" technology, and hence the concepts
of low power design were introduced. The challenges of multi-core and
high performance design including cache coherence were elaborated.
Prof. Singh explained the verification methodologies with an example
of implementing a DVD player. Simulation and formal verification
techniques were compared, with an overview on model checking. Prof.
Saluja explained the basics of VLSI testing, differences between
verification and testing, and the various testing techniques used. The
challenges in VLSI testing were also discussed.

Day 2: Tutorial

On the second day, I attended the tutorial on "Formal Techniques for
Hardware/Software Co-Verification" by Prof. Daniel Kroening [5], and
Prof. Mandayam Srinivas [6]. Prof. Kroening began the tutorial with
the motivation for formal methods. Examples on SAT solvers, boundary
model checking for hardware, and bounded program analysis for C
programs were explained. Satisfiability modulo theories for
bit-vectors, arrays and functions were illustrated with numerous
examples. In the afternoon, Prof. Srinivas demoed formal verification
for both Verilog and C. He shared the results of verification done for
both a DSP and a microprocessor. The CProver tool [7] has been
released under a CMBC license. After discussion with Fedora Legal, and
Prof. Kroening, it has been updated to a BSD license for inclusion in
Fedora [8]. The presentation slides [9] used in the tutorial are

Day 3: Main conference

The first day of the main conference began with the keynote by Mr.
Abhi Talwalker [10], CEO of LSI, on "Intelligent Silicon in the
Data-centric Era". He addressed the challenges in bridging the data
deluge gap, latency issues in data centers, and energy efficient
buildings. The second keynote of the day was given by Dr. Ruchir Puri
[11], IBM Fellow, on "Opportunities and Challenges for High
Performance Microprocessor Designs and Design Automation". Dr. Ruchir
spoke about the various IBM multi-core processors, and the challenges
facing multi-core desigs - software parallelism, socket bandwidth,
power, and technology complexity. He also said that more EDA
innovation needs to come at the system level.

After the keynote, I attended the "C1. Embedded Architecture" track
sessions. Liang Tang [12] presented his paper on "MAPro: A Tiny
Processor for Reconfigurable Baseband Modulation Mapping". Dr.
Swarnalatha Radhakrishnan [13] then presented her paper on "A Study on
Instruction-set Selection Using Multi-application Based Application
Specific Instruction-Set Processors". She explained about ASIPs
(Application Specific Instruction Set Processor), and shared test
results on choosing specific instruction sets based on the application
domain. The final paper for the session was presented by Prof. Niraj
K. Jha [14] on "Localized Heating for Building Energy Efficiency". He
and his team at Princeton have used ultrasonic sensors to implement
localized heating. A similar approach is planned for lighting as well.

Post-lunch, I attended the sessions for the track "B2. Test Cost
Reduction and Safety". The honourable chief minister of Maharashtra,
Shri. Prithviraj Chavan [15], arrived in the afternoon to formally
inaugurate the conference. He is an engineer who graduated from the
University of California, Berkeley, and said that he was committed to
put Pune on the semiconductor map. The afternoon keynote was given by
Mr. Kishore Manghnani [16] from Marvell, on "Semiconductors in Smart
Energy Products". He primarily discussed about LEDs, and their
applications. This was followed by a panel discussion on "Low power
design". There was an emphasis to create system level, software
architecture techniques to increase leverage in low power design. For
the last track of the day, I attended the sessions on "C3. Design and
Synthesis of Reversible Logic". The Keccak [17] sponge function family
has been chosen to become the SHA-3 standard.

Day 4: Main conference

The second day of the main conference began with a recorded keynote by
Dr. Paramesh Gopi [18], AppliedMicro, on "Cloud computing needs at
less power and low cost" followed by a talk by Mr. Amal Bommireddy
[19], AppliedMicro, on "Challenges of First pass Silicon". Mr.
Bommireddy discussed the factors affecting first pass success - RTL
verification, IP verification, physical design, routing strategies,
package design, and validation board design. The second keynote of the
day was by Dr. Louis Scheffer [20] from the Howard Hughes Medical
Institute, on "Deciphering the brain, cousin to the chip". It was a
brilliant talk on applying chip debugging techniques to inspect and
analyse how the brain works.

After the keynote, I visited the exhibition hall where companies had
their products displayed in their respective stalls. AppliedMicro had
a demo of their X-gene [21] ARM64 platform running Ubuntu. They did
mention to me that Fedora runs on their platform. Marvell had
demonstrated their embedded and control solutions running on Fedora.
ARM had their mbed.org [22] and embeddedacademic.com [23] kits on
display for students. Post-lunch, was an excellent keynote by Dr.
Vivek Singh [24], Intel Fellow, titled "Duniyaa Maange Moore!". He
started with what people need - access, connectivity, education, and
healthcare, and went to discuss the next in line for Intel's
manufacturing process. The 14nm technology is scheduled to be
operational by end of 2013, while 10nm is planned for 2015. They have
also started work on 7nm manufacturing processes. This was followed by
a panel discussion on "Expectations of Manufacturing Sector from
Semiconductor and Embedded System Companies" where the need to bridge
the gap between mechanical and VLSI/embedded engineers was emphasized.

Day 5: Main conference

The final day of the main conference began with the keynote by Dr.
Vijaykrishnan Narayanan [25] on "Embedded Vision Systems", where he
showed the current research in intelligent cameras, augmented reality,
and interactive systems. I attended the sessions for the track "C7.
Advances in Functional Verification", and "C8. Logic Synthesis and
Design". Post-lunch, Dr. Ken Chang [26] gave his keynote on "Advancing
High Performance System-on-Package via Heterogeneous 3-D Integration".
He said that Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge which uses FinFETs took nearly 15
years to productize, but look promising for the future. Co(CoS) Chip
on Chip on Substrate, and (CoW)oS Chip on Wafer on Substrate
technologies were illustrated. Many hardware design houses use 15
FPGAs on a board for testing. The Xilinx Virtex-7HT FPGA has analog,
memory, and ARM microprocessor integrated on a single chip giving a
throughput of 2.8 Terabits/second. He also mentioned that Known Good
Die (KGD) methodologies are still emerging in the market. For the last
track of the conference, I attended the sessions on "C9. Advances in
Circuit Simulation, Analysis and Design".

Thanks to Red Hat for sponsoring me to attend the conference.



[1] VLSI Design Conference 2013. http://www.vlsidesignconference.org/

[2] Hyatt Regency, Pune. http://pune.regency.hyatt.com/

[3] Prof. Kewal Saluja. http://www.ece.wisc.edu/~saluja/

[4] Prof. Virendra Singh. http://www.ee.iitb.ac.in/~viren/

[5] Prof. Daniel Kroening. http://www.kroening.com/

[6] Prof. Mandayam Srinivas.

[7] CProver. http://www.cprover.org/

[8] CMBC now a standard BSD license.

[9] Formal Techniques for Hardware/Software Co-Verification slides.

[10] Mr. Abhi Talwalkar.

[11] Dr. Ruchir Puri. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruchir_Puri

[12] Mr. Liang Tang. http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~liangt/

[13] Dr. Swarnalatha Radhakrishnan.

[14] Prof. Niraj K. Jha. http://www.princeton.edu/~jha/

[15] Shri. Prithviraj Chavan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prithviraj_Chavan

[16] Mr. Kishore Manghnani.

[17] Keccak. http://keccak.noekeon.org/

[18] Dr. Paramesh Gopi.

[19] Mr. Amal Bommireddy.

[20] Dr. Louis Scheffer. http://www.hhmi.org/research/fellows/scheffer_bio.html

[21] APM X-Gene ARM64. http://www.apm.com/products/x-gene

[22] mbed. http://mbed.org/

[23] Fast and Effective Embedded Systems Design. http://embeddedacademic.com/

[24] Dr. Vivek Singh. http://www.intel.com/jobs/virtualevent/bio/singh.htm

[25] Dr. Vijaykrishnan Narayanan. http://www.cse.psu.edu/~vijay/

[26] Dr. Ken Chang. http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ken-chang/4/279/2b4

Shakthi Kannan

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