Presentation of the 1999 Phil Kaufman Award to Hugo De Man

 

Hugo De Man

Presented on November 11, 1999
A. Richard Newton

Once more, it is both a pleasure and an honor to be asked to present the sixth annual Phil Kaufman Award to Professor Hugo De Man of IMEC and K. U. Leuven.

First, a little history. As a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley in the late sixties, Hugo was a part of the team headed by Professor Don Pederson where he participated in the pioneering work on circuit simulation. Back in Europe, at the Katholieke Universitaat of Leuven, Belgium, he was one of the first Europeans to establish a research team in ‘Computer Aided Chip Design’. This is, by the way, an important aspect of Hugo’s contribution. Many I have spoken to believe that it was Hugo’s drive back then that really got Europe going in this entire area. He was a wakeup call to the entire European community. In his work with the Esprit program, and then with the EDAC conference, just to name a two, Hugo has continued to push for a strong European presence in design and design technology.

Hugo’s team developed a number of key CAD software programs, leading to one of the first CAD companies for IC design in the world. The company Lisco was created back in 1977, and later became Silvar-Lisco. Silvar- Lisco sold the first standard-cell place and route tools (CALMP, developed by Professor Sansen and his students) as well as the first commercial mixed-mode simulators (DIANA) and switched-capacitor filter design tools (DIANA-SC). Hugo’s Ph.D. student and the developer of DIANA, Guido Arnout, joined Silvar-Lisco back then. As many of you know, Guido is presently CEO of CoWare, another venture inspired by Hugo and the work of his research group, this time from IMEC.

It is important to note that like a number of the previous Kaufman Award winners, it was the combination of design and design technology that was the key emphasis in Hugo’s work. He has never been a believer in EDA-for-EDA’s-sake. If you don’t really understand the problem, how can you hope to discover the best solution? Hugo has many circuit innovations to his credit as well. For example, in 1983 he and his students developed the dynamic CMOS design technique, called NORA (for No-Race) CMOS, which is still in use today in many of today’s highest performance microprocessor designs. He has made many contributions to analog and mixed-signal circuit design, including the work of he and his student Jan Rabaey on switched-capacitor filter design. Of course, Jan is now a distinguished faculty member at UC Berkeley and is very active in the EDA and design communities himself.

In 1984 Hugo co-founded IMEC (Inter-University Microelectronics Center) in Leuven, Belgium, which is now the largest independent microelectronics research organization in Europe. He eventually became vice-president of the VLSI System Design Methods group at IMEC. With 125 professional researchers, Hugo’s original group at IMEC has developed to become without doubt one of the most important and influential EDA research and development groups in the world. During the very early days of IMEC, Hugo recognized two important things: as chip capabilities evolved exponentially with Moore’s Law, higher levels of design abstraction would be needed to manage the design process, and while general-purpose processing was very important, digital signal processing would eventually become one of the major emphases of the electronics industry. This work resulted in the CATHEDRAL series of silicon compilers, which are regarded by many as the first operational demonstration of silicon-based high level synthesis for signal processors. This work was very influential, both in industry–for example, the successful Pyramid design system developed internally by Philips was inspired by CATHEDRAL–and commercially, where Mentor Graphics eventually commercialized the technology and called it DSP Station.

As early as 1990, Hugo understood the emerging importance of what we now call systems-on-silicon, the use of core-based design, the importance of re-use, and the rapidly growing role of embedded software. He initiated research on hardware/software co-design, leading to the definition of the CoWare design methodology, and the eventual creation of the company CoWare, now one of the leading contenders in the growing market for hardware-software interface synthesis and C/C++-based design. Finally, his work on developing software for DSP processor-core design has also resulted in the creation of Target Compilers, a company focusing on the development of re-targetable code generation.

So, as you can see from these few examples, Hugo has led the electronics industry with his vision and his insight, from his own Ph.D. work at the device level, to circuit design and simulation, to symbolic layout and compaction, NORA CMOS, PLA optimization, silicon compilation for signal processing, hardware/software co-design, the importance of memory and communication architectures in processor design, and embedded software. Always one step ahead, pushing the envelope, and yet still working to transfer the technology to practice, either within a large corporation or via a new start-up company, and always a team player. By all criteria, Hugo is clearly a very worthy recipient of the Kaufman Award.

However, I would also say that first and foremost, Hugo is an educator. I know this is the aspect of his career that he is most proud of. His vision and his deep understanding of technology and its implications, along with his ability to clearly and persuasively articulate his ideas, have made him an inspiration and mentor to many generations of students. Second, he is a designer and third an EDA researcher and developer. I believe, in fact, it is primarily for the way he has integrated all three of these aspects of his career that we are honoring him here tonight. In the time I have known Hugo– I first met him when I was a student at Berkeley over twenty years ago now–he has always been one of the most optimistic and inspiring people in our field, with an infectious passion for the challenges in design, and in design technology, that he has always been able to articulate so well. From NORA, to the Cathedrals, to the Holy Trinity, and The Gap. As Jan Rabaey told me, “His lectures on digital circuit design that were so compelling, inspiring, and challenging that I abruptly decided to change directions, and to pursue integrated circuits rather than the control systems I was originally inclined towards. The choice of a research adviser after that was clear, and Hugo has been my main mentor and motivator ever since.”

Hugo is a very modest person, and in that regard I would like to share with you part of a note Hugo sent to me after I congratulated him on receiving this award. In his usual modest style, Hugo was quick to acknowledge the impact the other Kaufman Award winners had had on his own development and career:

“Herman Gummel inspired us (Roger Van Overstraeten, Robert Mertens and myself) here in Leuven with his enormous insight in devices and his enthusiasm and willingness to talk to a simple postdoc from Europe at ISSCC 70-71. Of course Don Pederson shaped my life and way of thinking and became a friend for life; Jim Solomon inspired everybody with his enormous creativity, his pure engineering common sense and his Silicon Valley way of life; Carver Mead shaped a lot of our courses and taught us that dreaming is not forbidden; and Ernie Kuh taught us that in the end, basics make all the difference. This is something that seems difficult to convey to the ‘digikids’ in our classrooms today.”

So, in summary, on behalf of Mrs. Kaufman, EDAC, and all present here tonight, I am both pleased and honored to be able to present the Phil Kaufman Award to Professor Hugo De Man, who has played a central role in creating the EDA industry, through his research and his entrepreneurial vision, but perhaps most importantly through his inspirational educational style, his infectious optimism, his leadership and his modesty, and so through his example to his students and his colleagues throughout the EDA community. Hugo, we are all very grateful to you.