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46th DAC – Debating ESL, again… July 30, 2009

Posted by jstahl09 in Embedded, software, system design, Virtual Platforms.

For those tracking the history of the last 10 years of DAC panel discussions about ESL, they fall largely into two camps: the language debate and the high level synthesis debate. The 46th DAC was no exception to that pattern, and frankly, it is getting very old…

On the language debate you will find the debaters who think that by just changing the language, that designers use, to be something that resembles C or C++ , productivity will go up dramatically.  Some people will believe just because it is C/C++ they are closer to have a cheap, open source based tool flow.  The reality is that none of these statements are helpful or practical for real design life. A language in itself has no value without semantics and tools that exploit the semantics for a purpose (also known as a use case).  Open source approaches for tools are the last thing design teams want to rely on for their critical design project during a recession time.

On the high-level synthesis it is simply the question if the higher abstraction level for hardware block design is the critical problem for multi-core SoC design. With the cost of software development skyrocketing for fabless and integrated semiconductor companies, how much do they really want to invest into the hardware component design automation. Is it more important to make 100 hardware designers productive or 400 software developers?

It is time to concentrate efforts on the real big cost savers for multi-core design. Rather then spending the time on making that one new RTL block easier to develop, spend the time to prepare the models for the many other IP blocks on the chip, that are critical for architecture exploration and early software development.

It is time for Electronic System Virtualization. The 47th DAC will have to demonstrate, that it can concentrate its attention on the bigger issues.  Who wants to sit through another ESL debate next year?



1. Taken for Granted » DAC 2009 Wrapup: The end of ESL ExiStentiaLism? - July 31, 2009

[…] to move on from the “debate” about nothing) – see Frank Schirrmeister, Jason Andrews, Johannes Stahl, Richard Goering, and Jakob Engblom.  So my proposal for DATE, DAC, ASP-DAC and other conferences […]

2. RK - July 31, 2009

Interesting read. While I agree with points pertaining to debate on language, it is true that some times language itself could be a constraining factor for:
1. Ease of use, there by gaining accceptebility
2. Does not provide necessary hooks ( keywords and constructs) to specify the problem

In such circumstances choice of new language is necessary.
You also talk about SW complexity mainly in the light of multi-core environment. I believe SW is still a gating factor even in single core processors.

3. SKMurphy » DAC 2009 Blog Coverage Roundup - August 3, 2009

[…] Johannes Stahl on “46th DAC–Debating ESL, Again…“ […]

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