June 14th, 2012
Everybody loves the phrase, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but usually don’t remember the specifics. According to Wikipedia, the horsemen each ride a steed of a different color – white, red, black, and pale – and thunder towards us bearing apocalyptic messages of Conquest, War, Famine and Death. You know: The stuff of video games and CGI blockbusters. Ignore them and you lose.
This year at DAC, GSEDA analyst Gary Smith presented his own apocalyptic message in back-to-back presentations on Sunday evening, June 3rd, and again on Monday morning, June 4th.
Why was Smith’s message apocalyptic? Because he too had four horsemen, and they too cannot be ignored. Without them, products will fail. It’s that simple.
Smith’s horsemen are neither rapacious nor ravaging, however. Instead, they represent the methodical four-step process for co-development of hardware and software, which if done properly moves to completion in carefully controlled lock-step and produces successful results.
Replacing Apocalypse with Approximation, Gary Smith’s Four Horsemen of the Approximation represent Design Exploration (not Conquest), Making Apps (not War), Firmware (not Famine), and Sales & Marketing (not Death).
Steve Leibson posted an article in the EDA360 Insider that reports on a panel at DAC chaired by Wally Rhines. The panel on ESL touched on the cost of IC development and Wally pointed out that the cost of software development is much higher than the one for hardware. In fact, software development costs are rising.
This should not come as a surprise to careful observers of the industry.
What is happening is that IC manufacturing costs are increasing significantly but hardware development costs have not been rising very much. Wally stated that the increase is around 10%. Re-use is the principal reason for the stability of hardware development cost. The use of standard cores, like those from ARM is so widespread that when combined with standard busses and functional blocks, most IC’s look more like standard computers than ASIC.
The 2012 Design Automation Conference, June 3rd to 7th at Moscone Center in San Francisco, hosted thousands of people. These photos capture only some of the images at the show. They were all taken with an iPad3, an odd but effective form factor for a camera, and were edited on an HP Pavilion dm3. Click on any image to see the larger version.
The YouTube videos below — Gary Smith Blues, Moscone Flags, Forte Bagpipes — were also captured with an iPad3.
I had to add this after seeing the posting from my bud/guru Dan Nenni on Obama, since I think my story is way better. As we depart the gate at SFO, they tell us we are pulling over to the side to “wait” because of weather in Dallas, (I knew I should have done as I usually do…gone through LAX and wrote this at Chili’s). An hour later, the Pilot announces Obama’s Air Force One has everything shut down for his departure from SFO. Just then, cool as can be, right out my window rolls POTUS. I look on in amazement as AF1approaches the runway and suddenly jumped and said “ S#*^…..I have to get this on camera”…. way too loudly, I might add. Since phones were on because we were sitting in a holding pattern, I fumbled for my phone and scrambled to film this once in a lifetime video. By now AF-I with it’s entourage has turned from the taxi-way onto the active runway. I have seconds…the icons on my phone seem so miniature…AF-1 starts rolling. I hit the camera icon…the camera opens, I point and shoot…and all I get is an empty runway…nothing, nada, missed it all. You don’t want to know the next words I yelled…First class asked me to please act accordingly
So I figured I would alleviate a few hours worth of answering the same question by writing what everyone will ask me in the coming weeks… “How was DAC”? Now I can simply say, “read my darn column”.
This is the third in a series of blogs describing conversations with small companies that exhibited at 2012 Design Automation Conference in San Francisco, June 4th to 6th.
Since I published the Monday@DAC and Tuesday@DAC blogs, both Dan Nenni and Mike Demler have published attendance numbers for the conference. Interesting that the two sets of numbers see the same cup as either half-full or half-empty.
Per Nenni, the cup’s half-full when comparing DAC 2011 in San Diego to DAC 2012 in San Francisco: “Conference attendees were up to 1901, up 9% on last year. But exhibits only passes were way up to 2783, an increase of 39%. Even booth staff was up 11% to 2704.”
Per Demler, however, the cup’s half-empty when comparing DAC 2009 to DAC 2012, both in San Francisco: “Conference attendees remained essentially flat compared to the last San Francisco DAC, at 1,962 in 2009 versus 1,902 this year. Exhibit-only attendees dropped by nearly 20%, from 3,337 three years ago to 2,703 in 2012. It is interesting to note that Booth Staff actually increased slightly, from 2,697 to 2,704.”
Demler added: “An analysis of the DAC exhibitor list reflects many of the changes that have occurred in the industry. Fewer than 100 companies on the show floor, approximately half of the exhibitors, actually develop design tools.”
Demler also observed that PDF Solutions, a company whose CEO is on the EDAC Board, did not exhibit at DAC 2012. PDF Solutions does not consider itself a design tool company, however - see my interview with John Kibarian here - so even had the company exhibited that may not have alleviated concerns.
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