DAC 2006: As the world turns, the pendulum swings
I know I can't read the future, and I'm pretty sure you can't either. But we all continue to look back to see what's ahead, and look ahead to try to understand where we've come from. It's a pendulum of looking to the past, and then the future, believing in the future, and then growing wistful about the past. Hate to sound so philosophical, but when 11,000 people see fit to gather together at a conference center for 5 days, there better be something profound that can be concluded at the end of it all, something to show for all that energy and enthusiasm expended.
Otherwise, why did we bother to go?
Top 10 Reasons to be Jazzed at DAC 2006
10 - The industry numbers are up. Cadence reported 12-percent revenue growth, year over year, for Q2'06 versus Q2'05. They're a $1.4 billion enterprise nowadays, and that ain't too shabby. Mentor was aglow with their 24% year-over-year quarterly growth numbers, and although Synopsys was in a 'quite period' during DAC, they appeared to be feeling good about their numbers, as well. From the user community, it's true AMD took a bath on DAC Monday after announcing the $5.4 billion ATI acquisition, but ATI stock jumped farther than an athlete on steroids on that same day. Intel seemed unfazed by the potential of a beefed-up competitor, and TSMC and NVidia were also feeling their oats in the financial sector, although there are concerns over inventory gluts across the industry. Freescale merrily hosted its own developer conference at the same time as DAC, but on the opposite coast, and generated lots of buzz. TI posted impressive revenue numbers for Q2, and even Sun had an explanation that seemed reasonable, to account for their current circumstances.
9 - The Anniversary Waltz could be heard all over DAC. It's 25 years this year for Mentor, 20 years for Synopsys, 25 years for HSPICE, and 35 years for the granddaddy of them all - U.C. Berkeley's SPICE. Quiz Show at the Synopsys breakfast celebrating the event included: 1) What does the H in HSPICE stand for? 2) What year did Meta-Software go public? 3) What year did Avanti acquire Meta-Software?
8 - There were really a lot of people at Moscone Center in the Exhibition Halls, both North and South, on free-pass Monday. Companies told me there were less people on Tuesday and Wednesday, but though there was less quantity, there was better quality.
7 - Newly minted as an IEEE Fellow, University of British Columbia's Resve Saleh presented in the Xoomsys booth mid-afternoon on Tuesday and Wednesday on the subject of dynamic coupling. I caught part of the Wednesday event, and was impressed with the quality of his talk, and the numbers of people who sat and stood to hear the presentation. It doesn't get any better than great technologists presenting robust ideas side-by-side with companies who offer competitive products that help to solve emerging problems.
6 - DAC Executive Committee member, Ingrid Verbauwhede, is newly named to the chair at Katholieke University in Leuven most recently held by Kaufman Award winner Hugo de Man. Dr. Verbauwhede, who originally hails from the KU/IMEC complex in Leuven, has been teaching at UCLA for the last 10 years. She'll be a dynamic addition to the faculty at KU, and an articulate spokesperson fully conversant on the differences and similarities between the European and North American technical mindsets.
5 - If you stepped into the back of the ballroom in the Marriott Hotel where the Monday evening SPIRIT Consortium General Meeting was being held, you would have seen the place packed to the gills. Absolutely standing room only. The organizers appear to have expected 100 people, but almost 200 showed up. Is there any doubt that people are willing to pitch in and make standards, interoperability, and IP work? There are lots of spots available on current and future working groups related to the SPIRIT standard. The organization's a non-profit now and can be reached at www.spiritconsortium.org
4 - Any time a researcher for whom English is a second language (or third, or fourth) steps up to the microphone to ask a question (in heavily-accented English) of a presenter during a technical session, and the presenter at the podium for whom English is also a second language (or third, or fourth) is able to understand the question and sincerely, courageously, and courteously frame an answer (also in heavily-accented English) and everyone in the room leans forward in their chairs to try to hear and understand the exchange, it's as illuminating and thoroughly human a moment as you will ever observe. I've seen it many times at DAC, and other conferences, and it never fails to inspire.
3 - The UML for SoC Design Workshop was well attended on Sunday afternoon. I stopped in around 4 PM, and although the workshop had been under way since 9 AM, there still looked to be 80+ people in the room, alert and engaged in the presentations. A question from the floor from an attendee: "UML is good for high-level design. When will it be ready for functional design and the drop down to RTL?" Stay tuned for the answer over the next several years. Or, tune out - but at your own risk!
2 - I caught a few minutes of Session 29 on Wednesday afternoon, "Design Challenges for Next-Generation Multimedia, Games, and Entertainment Platforms." The room was a zoo! People hanging from the rafters trying to hear what the panelists from NVidia, IBM, Pixelworks, Samsung, and Intel were saying. From what I could tell from the back, they were saying the technology's cool and the money's great. Come on over and join us if you're young and whimsical.
1 - The Student Design Award presentations were moderated by University of Arkansas' Alan Mantooth on Wednesday morning in the DAC Pavilion, and were a joy to behold. Somewhere in the group shot taken of all of those student winners, advisors, sponsors, and DAC committee members on the stage after the presentations, is the next generation of Best and Brightest who will lead this industry with dignity and creativity to even greater heights of innovation and inventiveness.
Top 10 Reasons to be Jaded at DAC 2006
10 - Export litigation controls are useless. Between piracy and the juggernaut that continues to rush towards an ever-more global economy, trying to protect national security and national boundaries by reigning in the sales of some technologies, but not others, is nigh on impossible. Is it even logical? Piracy is rampant, plus the customers of your customers may (or may not) be developing really nasty things with the things that your customers are designing (with your tools) and selling to them. How do you plan to stop that? Do you care? Or are you just paying lip service to export legislation by way of absolving yourself of any culpability in this mad, mad, mad rush to arms, more arms, and even more arms.
9 - (Yet again), rumors hits the fan that an anchor tenant is pulling out of DAC. Is this a death wish by some that the industry's Annual Fair under the Big Top should wither and die? Is it a move to consolidate power on the part of a mean-spirited industry player, or simply a logical step to redirect resources in other directions? Does it really matter at all? If so, to whom? Is it a crime against humanity, or not even a blip in the history of mankind? Does it have anything whatsoever to do with technical innovation?
8 - Litigation continues to haunt EDA such that the Party of the First Part can still not be seen in the same room as the Party of the Second Part. Could we get past this and on to the business of living?
7 - Way, way, way too many electronic gadgets are being designed, produced and marketed worldwide. Where on earth, or in the earth, are we going to put all of this junk when you and I, our kids, and their kids tire of our latest game boxes, set-top boxes, cell phones, MP3 players, DVD players, TVs, BlackBerrys, datasticks, watches, calculators, flashing champagne glasses, flashing beer glasses, clocks, talking pumpkins, talking bunnies, talking santas, singing fish, dancing robots, noise-canceling earphones, cameras of all sizes, software boxes, manuals, CDs, jewel cases, laptops, desktops, fat and flat monitors, GPS devices, chargers, batteries, chemical residuals, particulate pollution, and CO2? Could somebody, somewhere, at DAC someday, please address this issue? It's at least as important as SOX, piracy, export legislation, and maiming monsters that spew life-like blood.