The 13th Annual IEEE International ASIC/SOC Conference
was held at the Crystal City Hyatt Hotel in Arlington, VA, from Sept. 13-16, 2000.

The 2000 ASIC/SOC Conference theme was "System-On-Chip in the Internet Age". Driven by the rapid growth of the Internet, communication technologies, pervasive computing, and consumer electronics, Systems-on-Chip (SoC) have become a key issue in today's electronic industry. The transition from the traditional Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) to SoC has lead to new challenges in Design Methods, Automation, Manufacturing, Technology and Test. The conference covered these and other important topics, following its mission to support the engineering community in staying competitive in today's rapidly changing working environment. The conference was sponsored by the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society and the IEEE Rochester Section.

Program Highlights

The 20 technical paper sessions with 75 technical paper presentations in two parallel tracks were well received and well attended, even on the last conference day. The presented papers covered a wide range of  ASIC and SoC related topics: from the classic Physical Design, Circuit Design, Synthesis and Modeling issues over Digital Systems, Wireless and Portable Solutions, to hot topics like Embedded DRAM, Imaging, IP Core Design, IP Design Methodology, Low Power and Signal Integrity . A day-long IP Track and two Applications sessions rounded up the program.

Conference Summary

Thomas BuechnerLike every year, a number of distinguished speakers from research and industry shared their views with the audience, presenting the latest trends and their view of the future of the SoC and ASIC industry. The first conference day started with a plenary session. In his welcome note , ASIC/SOC 2000 General Chair Thomas Büchner, IBM Böblingen Development Lab, Germany, opened the conference with a brief overview of the conference highlights, explaining the motivation for the theme "System-On-Chip in the Internet Age." He gave some examples on how the Internet and the communications industry is driving the need for higher performance and the growing demand for ASICs and Systems-on-Chip, and concluded that the impact of the Internet will keep today's engineers busy for the rest of their working lives.
John KellyHis opinion was shared by the following Keynote Speaker, John E. Kelly III, Senior Vice President & Group Executive, IBM Technology Group, and General Manager of
IBM Microelectronics Division. In his speech entitled "Communications Systems-on-a-Chip: Opportunity and Challenges," Dr. Kelly stated that "To realize the full potential of the internet, networks must become more intelligent, easier to use and more widely accessible and always on and available," a fact that translates into explosive growth in the semiconductor industry. According to his opinion, the key to make this possible will be continued advances in SoC technologies. He gave an overview of recently developed leading edge technologies, like copper wiring, SOI, low-k dielectric, SiGe, and embedded DRAM, and showed that with the growing complexity and decreasing time-to-market requirements, these technologies can only be fully exploited by providing state-of-the-art tools and design methodologies, and an intelligent design infrastructure. He concluded that only a vertically integrated company that combines technology, packaging, design infrastructure, software and system knowledge will be able to succeed in the SoC market of the future.

Wolfgang RoethigDr. Kelly's presentation was followed by a plenary talk on "Design for Signal Integrity on SoC" held by Wolfgang Roethig from NEC Electronics (left picture). He presented an approach for a design flow for signal integrity that includes analysis-driven prevention and optimization of crosstalk-induced delay, noise, electromigration, hot electron, power consumption, and voltage drop-off with sign-off quality.

After lunch, the technical program opened with a special session on Embedded DRAM. Three renowned invited speakers (Shekhar Borkar, Fellow at Intel Corp., Wing Leung, VP of technology, MoSys Inc., and Yoshinori Okajima, Fujitsu Ltd.) presented the latest developments in the area of embedded memory.

The first afternoon of technical sessions ended with an Opening Reception in the Foyer, where the conference attendees had the chance to take a look at the Exhibits (see pictures below).  Quickturn, StarCore, CMP Media and Kluwer Academic Publishers showed their products on Wednesday and Thursday.

Program Chair taking off at Quickturn tableStarCore table: Sorry, we are out of laser pointers, why not take a stress ball?Browsing through the latest publications at Kluwer table

Shekhar BorkarOn Wednesday evening, a well-attended and well received Panel Discussion completed the first conference day. The four panelists (Shekhar Borkar, Intel Corp. (right), Wing Leung, MoSys Inc., Carl Ashley, IBM Microelectronics, and Wolfgang Roethig, NEC) discussed  "Moore's Law and Reality - Perspectives in SoC Design" in a controversial but also humorous way.
Discussion items were: What can device physicists and process engineers achieve?
What are you going to do with all those transistors? How are you going to design and verify something that complex? Will you buy these chips? Can anyone afford the fab facility?
and other challenges. Provocative statements like "Moore's Law must come to an end because all exponential growth some times comes to an end", obviously were heavily opposed by the Intel panelist, and very soon the audience became part of this interesting discussion.
The panel was chaired by Shih-Lien Lu,
Intel Corp.

On the second conference day, the IP Track was opened by another invited speaker. In his talk "Cultivating the Disciplines of Reusable IP Development: ASIC Cores Methodology Initiatives", Carl Ashley, technical lead for the IBM Blue Logic Core Methodology team at IBM Microelectronics, presented an example for methodology initiatives to meet the increasingly stringent quality requirements in the development of reusable IP.

Fabrice PailletDuring the Luncheon, the Best Paper Award 1999 was handed over to Fabrice Paillet from CTA / GIP, France, for his outstanding paper and presentation at ASIC/SOC’99.Luncheon Together with his co-authors Damien Mercier and Thierry M. Bernard, Mr. Paillet had published a paper about a “Second Generation Artificial Retina” at the 1999 Conference. The paper describes a CMOS imager integrating a processing element in each pixel to support fast, compact and low power vision. Their excellent work had also been presented in a clear, well understandable and well organized way that even included a demonstration video of the image processing capabilities. Our congratulations to the authors.
Jamie UrquhartThe Luncheon Speaker was James Urquhart, Chief Operating Officer and Director,
ARM Holdings plc. (right). Being one of the founding Engineers of the ARM processor, he gave an overview of this famous processor and its success story. Using the family of ARM processor cores as an example, he showed the importance of standardization in the development and usage of IP components.
Dinner CruiseThe main social event of ASIC/SOC2000 took place on Thursday evening, when over 120 conference attendees boarded the sightseeing boat Dandy for a Dinner Cruise (left). During the 3 hour cruise on Potomac River from historic Alexandria up to Georgetown and back, people enjoyed their dinner and a spectacular view of the Capital's monuments.

 

After one more day of technical presentations on Friday, six half-day Tutorial Workshops were held on Saturday. About 25% of the conference attendees took the opportunity to stay one more day and learn the latest developments in Silicon-on-Insulator, Interconnect Modeling and Design, Vision Systems, High-Performance Low Power Buses, Design for Test in Mixed-Signal Circuits, and how to manage Noise in SoC Designs.
Presenters were Norman Rohrer and Kerry Bernstein (
IBM), Prof. Lei He (Univ. of Wisconsin), Fabrice Paillet (CTA, France), Prof. Mircea Stan (Univ. of Virginia), Prof. Chih-Kong Ken Yang (UCLA), David England (Intel), and Sudhakar Muddu (SGI).

Statistics

152 registered attendees from 17 counties all over the world made the conference once more a truly international event. Attendees by Country
Attendees by Region
Two third of the attendees came from North America, the other third is divided into almost two equal parts originating from the Europe/Middle East/Africa and the Asia/Pacific Regions (see graphics left and above.) 52% of the attendees were from industry, 48% from universities and independent research organizations.
While the absolute number of attendees from North America and the Asia/Pacific regions has remained almost constant compared to 1999, the attendance from Europe has dropped by 38%.
One reason for this could be the weakness of the Euro that has caused an increase of travel expenses by almost 20%. Taking into account that most of the travel budgets are planned and approved in advance, many European companies and universities had to reduce their travel to the USA.
We hope that this trend will not continue and that we will see many of our European colleagues again at ASIC/SOC 2001.

The 14th Annual IEEE ASIC/SOC International Conference will take place at the same location, the Crystal City Hyatt Hotel, Arlington, VA, from Sept. 12-15, 2001. The 2001 conference will be fully sponsored by IEEE Circuits and Systems Society.

ASIC/SOC 2000 Report