The ESL Edge

28
Jul

Is DAC dying?

People came to DAC this year wanting to be depressed. The industry is in bad shape, the organizing committee made mistakes in taking away free Monday – you name it, I have heard the excuses about why they did not expect much. As I walked through the doors of the Moscone center I was greeted by smiles from Kevin Levine, one of the organizers of DAC. If there were problems with this year’s conference, it was not showing in him. He quickly told me where I needed to go to for my registration. There, I found more smiles and it was difficult to feel so down.

Having registered, I walked into the North hall. As in other years, it took me an hour to walk just a few feet as everyone that I knew, came to say hi, to shake hands and to ask me a multitude of questions about verification, ESL, the books – you name it. This seemed just like a DAC from years gone by. I started to ask people about how they were feeling and many said to me that they also felt that people wanted to be depressed but they were having a hard time not feeling just a little bit optimistic, that we had seen the bottom, that the people had come, that DAC was not dead. In fact one vendor that I talked to said that many people, many companies, that had told him they were not coming, were in fact there. Within the first few hours of the show he had already talked to more people than he thought he was going to talk with in the whole show.

I had lunch with another person who was excited about some of the changes that were going on in the industry. We talked about the new opportunities, the new challenges and how so many people just did not seem to notice the changes that were going on around them. That did not understand why some companies were falling in terms of significance while others seemed to be making huge strides. Out of adversity come great change and I feel that this time out of the recession will be very different from the rest.

Sure, the exhibits halls are not so full in terms of booth space or people, sure some companies have cut back on the number of people that they send, but this does not portend the end of DAC.

Then I started to put a clearer picture together. The doom and gloom is coming from the people who do not like or cannot prosper from the changes that are happening in our industry. It is affecting the whole tool chain, the fabs, the semiconductor companies, the systems companies, the EDA industry, the press. There is so much change happening, that some people probably just want the “Good Ol Days” to return. The ones they understood, that were good to them. Progress is unrelenting, not just in the technology, but in the processes and methodologies that the industry uses. Some see that change as perilous, other see it as a great opportunity. Which camp are you in?

4 Responses to “Is DAC dying?”

  1. 1
    Sean Murphy Says:

    Regarding your “clearer picture” I am reminded of some remarks by Andrew Grove November 6, 2001 at a Churchill Club dinner in San Jose. His autobiography “Swimming Across” had recently been published and he recounted some key events in his life in the course of his talk. After he escaped from Hungary following the collapse of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 he made his way to New York in 1957 and associated with a group of fellow Hungarians.

    He remarked that the emigres divided into two camps. Those that lamented what had been left behind in Hungary and the way of life that had been lost and those that looked to future opportunities now that they were in America. He resolved to join he second group.

    This was only a few weeks after 9/11 and I found this observation personally very moving. I later came across a quote by Helen Keller from “We Bereaved” which was a succinct encapsulation:

    “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

  2. 2
    Stephen Meier Says:

    The DAC committee did an excellent job with organizing the conference with TSMC, Dally keynotes. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all my former colleagues and customers. Yet there is no denial as to the fate of the industry. Moshe from Xilinx characterized the situation best during the PANEL: Moore’s Law: Another Casualty of the Financial Meltdown? . The facts are that # of design starts at the high end are reducing quickly and this is the main demand driver for advanced EDA R&D. My last conference in SF was Google I/O, and I can see a world of difference in openness, shared open software, API’s, standards like HTML5 and the upcoming Google Wave federation. The sense of community collaboration in the internet space is so far ahead of semiconductors. Key example are the ongoing UPF/CPF, PDK and now TSMC claiming an open layout verification standard that is not part of a standards process. Change is a great opportunity, but I don’t see anyone leading the way. So for now I will continue my journey with the diaspora, crossing from EDA to Web2.0.

  3. 3
    Brian Bailey Says:

    The preliminary figures regarding DAC attendance also bear out my observations. According to them there were 3247 exhibit only attendees. While I am sure this number will be down compared to the last time it was in San Francisco, it does say that we are not falling off a cliff. I also know that the number would have been a lot lower were it not for EDAC, Denali, Springsoft and Atrenta making the exhibits free for many people – so a big thank you to them. The group of three put 600 additional people there.

    The conference was also healthy, with 1888 people registered. That means for total attendance, there was an increase of 12% compared to last year in Anaheim and up 3% compared to the year before that in San Diego.

  4. 4
    SKMurphy » DAC 2009 Blog Coverage Roundup Says:

    [...] “Is DAC Dying?” Brian Baily answers “No.” [...]

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