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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

DesignCon: Why it’s not DAC

January 31st, 2013 by Peggy Aycinena

Just past 8:00 am in the Santa Clara Convention Center on Wednesday, January 30th, I had the good luck to run into IEC’s Dr. Barry Sullivan, long-time leader at DesignCon. Conversation’s always relaxed in that hour at any conference, and so it was with Barry. I asked him how things go with DesignCon, now that it’s owned and operated by UBM.

[Barry’s tenure with the conference predates the 2010 purchase of the conference by UBM, discussed here in a blog posted at the time by former EE Times Editor Nic Mokhoff.]

Barry said that UBM’s skill set is exactly aligned with the needs of DesignCon, and that’s a good thing. He said having a media company like UBM in charge is excellent for the conference. In the years prior to the acquisition, Barry said, the conference would sometimes have to “beg” the press to cover the event. With UBM at the helm, however, he said press coverage has been stupendous. I asked Barry if he thought DesignCon was out to replace DAC.

He responded: In my mind, DAC has always been about the tools, a conference for the tool makers, whereas DesignCon is about design and the designers. I know that DAC is moving to attract more folks from the design community, but at this point I think the distinctions between the two conferences remain. They are complementary, not redundant.

It was still too early to go out onto the exhibit hall, so I asked Barry if the Big Guys in EDA were exhibiting, suggesting that might provide one metric about how the EDA community felt about DesignCon. Barry said because DesignCon emphasizes the backend, he was sure Mentor and Cadence had booths, but wasn’t too sure about Synopsys. Turns out Barry was correct; Synopsys did not exhibit at DesignCon.

Later on that same morning, I spoke with EDA veteran & Breker VP Tom Anderson just prior to his presentation on low-power verification in Ballroom B. Anderson seconded Barry Sullivan’s sentiments about DAC: It’s an EDA conference. And, he added, it continues to be the case that if a company in the EDA industry doesn’t exhibit at DAC, it’s as if they’re not a viable business.

Finally, after the noon-time keynote ended, the DesignCon Exhibition Hall opened and I went in to explore the space. With more than 130 companies exhibiting, the aisles in and around the booths were extraordinarily packed, as was the Exhibition Hall Theater and even the refreshment area. DesignCon looked like a smashing success and the kind of conference that a company would be glad to participate in.

Standing amidst the energy and the crowds, I turned and saw several managers from the DAC organization walking the floor. They told me they were there to “scope” things out, so I asked them how they would differentiate between DesignCon and DAC.

They responded with admiration for the way DesignCon is laid out – technical sessions in the morning, with the Exhibition Hall underway in the afternoon – but added that with so much technical content being showcased at DAC, it just isn’t possible to restrict sessions to the morning and the Exhibition Hall to the afternoon.

They also noted that the Santa Clara Convention Center is smaller than venues like Moscone Center in San Francisco, or other large conference sites where DAC has been located of late. That meant, they said, the DesignCon booths were most closely located and the crowds more compacted into the space. Hence, DesignCon looked busier and livelier than the look and feel of recent DACs.

So there you have it, a decidedly unscientific poll on why DesignCon isn’t DAC.


DesignCon blog …

Barry Sullivan is Director of Program Development for the International Engineering Consortium. He posts a regular blog on the DesignCon site. You can read it here


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