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Impressions from ESC 2011

By John Blyler

Here are my rough impressions from the last four days of attendance at the Embedded Systems Conference.

The weather was warm and inviting as is shined through the large windows at the San Jose McEnery Conference Center. Inside, the show floor was full with exhibitions.

Attendance to the show floor felt a bit light, but it was consistently even through each day. The training and educations sessions were reportedly well attended.

The main draw on the show floor was the huge museum-like, skeletal display of a T-Rex.  The dinosaur exhibition, provided by Green Hills Software, was very cool but did seem a tad out of place.

By contrast, the many robots located throughout and sometimes roaming the show floor was also cool. They were definitely in place for an embedded conference.

Since I spend a large amount of my time in meetings, I missed the main keynote event delivered by Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder – Apple Computer, Inc. No matter, since Wozniak is also the keynote speaker at next month’s Design Automation Conference. I’ll hear his message at DAC.

Let me stay on the DAC-ish theme of EDA companies to cover their announcements at this week’s ESC event.

Most of the press – well, those of us left standing after the great changes in the media and publication world – were in attendance at Cadence’s in-booth press conference. The purpose of the gathering was to announce the next installment of the company’s EDA360 strategy, namely, “System Realization.”

The words described a need and approach for hardware and software SoC co-design and co-verification. The facts seemed to be the integration of Cadence’s very successful emulation platform (Palladium) with their higher level FPGA and virtual prototyping systems. As I listened to Senior VP and CMO John Bruggeman’s flawless delivery of the message, I couldn’t help but think back to the days of Cadence earlier attempts at co-design, namely, with ESL and SPW. It didn’t help that the ESC announcement was short on specific details, since the “System Realization” activities were still in early engagements with customers.

Not quite as spectacular(1) but still note-worthy was Mentor’s announcements of improvements in their long term goal of owning the system space. Here, system encompasses SoC design, manufacturing, packaging, board design and manufacturing through mechatronics. The company’s announcement focused on the software side of the system, namely, a new integrated development environment base on the open industry GNU tool chain.

Synopsys had a small booth at ESC, but provided no major announcements at the show.

But who goes to ESC to learn about the latest news from the EDA community? It’s the embedded space that counts. I’ll report details about all the embedded news later next week.

(1) What I meant to write was “Not quite the spectacle…” Even editors make misteaks. I mean, mistakes. — JB

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