DVCon: The Imitation Game
March 5th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena
What if I were to tell you that I attended a conference where people were really excited to be there, where the exhibit hall was filled with a crush of people making their way from booth to booth, talking with exhibitors and exchanging business cards madly. A conference where the South of the exhibit hall was dominated by Synopsys, the East by Cadence, and the West by Mentor, and where at the happiest hour, libations and snacks flowed freely in a sub-set of the booths and the whole exhibit hall became even more animated.
What if I told you the technical portion of the conference included a variety of content — touching at times on autos, wearables, the IoT, IP, standards, and verification — excellent panel discussions, well-attended poster sessions, detailed tutorials, and a keynote from the CEO of the largest company in the industry delivered to a packed, SRO ballroom full of designers, engineers, and engineering managers.
Finally, what if I told you the highly capable staff of MP Associates was running the whole thing with their usual aplomb, attending to details as diverse as registration, sound systems, lunch tickets, speaker logistics, and awards presentations.
If I told you all of this and you guessed I was talking about DAC, an event that fancies itself the Grandaddy of all EDA conferences, you would be wrong. But if you guessed instead I was talking about DVCon 2015, you’d be square-on correct.
And you wouldn’t be alone. More than one person this week, in and out of sessions at the Double Tree in San Jose, commented on the energy, the attendance, and the joie de vivre (well, maybe they didn’t use that exact term, but that’s what they meant) at DVCon, while simultaneously lamenting that this is what DAC used to feel like, but unfortunately no longer does.
They said DAC’s lost its energy, its freshness, and its relevance as a venue for communication, networking, or even for sales. So much so, that at least one long-time industry contributor told me he may not even go to DAC this year in San Francisco in June. So where does that leave us?
Well, let’s tick off the characteristics of DVCon 2015. I’m guessing around 1200 people were there over the course of the 4-day event, lots of designers and verification people because that’s what the D and the V stand for. In the areas of headcount and quality of attendees, therefore, DVCon 2015 is within shouting distance of similar metrics for recent editions of DAC.
Particularly if you factor in attendance at the two other annual conferences, the one in India and the one in Europe, that will now be part of the year-round DVCon cycle.
Then there’s the cost. Everybody and his brother knows that it’s wildly expensive to exhibit at DAC, with ponderous booths-on-steroids that are expensive to design, construct, staff, and then de-construct.
When DAC’s in San Francisco, in particular, the costs are over the top: food, labor, and housing all painfully expensive for everybody. Compare the ROI on those costs with what I saw at DVCon this week.
Yes, the SCaM booths have grown in size over the last several years, but many of the other 35 booths in the exhibit hall were simple table-top alcoves where the conversation was about the software and/or services of the exhibiting company, not about how many strobe lights, barkers, or comely talents could be assembled to guarantee the kind of sensory overload that’s become de rigueur for DAC.
Nobody complained to me this week about the costs of exhibiting at DVCon. What a contrast to DAC, where complaining about the costs of exhibiting has become a national pastime over the last few years all across the EDA Nation.
Finally, there’s the energy co-efficient. It’s true that for the sake of contrast I’m saying DVCon’s abuzz and DAC is not, although that’s not completely accurate.
Certainly, however, if you look at the mission statement for DAC — “The premier conference for design and automation of electronic systems [with] outstanding training, education, exhibits, and superb networking opportunities for designers, researchers, tool developers and vendors” — that’s seems a far more accurate description of DVCon than DAC these days.
Particularly again, when you factor into the equation the three DVCons now happening around the world: DVCon Silicon Valley, DVCon Europe and DVCon India.
Having said all of this, do I think DAC should be swapped out and DVCon swapped in instead? Of course, not. But I do think the powers-that-be running DAC might take some time to consider why a conference like DVCon is in ascendancy, and a conference like DAC is not.
People always say EDA’s not rocket science. Re-igniting enthusiasm for DAC, however, apparently is.
Tags: Cadence, DAC, Design Automation Conference, DVCon, DVCon Europe, DVCon India, DVCon Silicon Valley, Mentor Graphics, MP Associates, Synopsys