CDNLive! Silicon Valley 2010 -- our user's group meeting and more -- kicked off yesterday morning at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California. It's been 2 years since the last CDNLive! (last year's event was online-only) where I captured this video of our Encounter software running though VPN/VNC on an iPhone. I was thinking this morning: How are we going to top that? What is going to be the thing I remember most at this year's event?
Well, for starters I grabbed a seat near Richard Goering, Gary Smith, and John Cooley who -- collectively -- have probably written 90% of the content I've consumed while working in the semiconductor and EDA industries for the past 13 years. It was great to see these guys in attendance along with other distinguished members of the press covering the event. Although I'm a Cadence employee I share these observations from the perspective of a typical engineer. I hope they're useful in getting a feel for the tenor and topics discussed in the morning session at this year's conference.
The morning agenda had our executives describing what we're working on at Cadence at a high level, what our strategy is, and what makes Cadence special. First, we heard from our President and CEO Lip-Bu Tan who shared that design costs are greater than mask costs. Automation, he suggested, is the way forward. Next, our Chief Marketing Officer John Bruggeman (image below) delivered a focused and deliberate message about what EDA360 is and why customers should care about it.
He went into detail about System Realization, SoC Realization, and Silicon Realization and shared an anecdote I found interesting. He said that the average American television set has a lifespan of 15 years. That business model is undesirable when contrasted with a typical smartphone business model where the consumer pays for the handset, pays for a service contract, and then pays for apps and content on top of it. When John unboxed a television set he recently purchased he booted it up (as opposed to "plugging it in" or "turning it on") -- and was presented with an app-like user interace similar to the iPhone. He used this as an example of how technology businesses need to fundamentally rethink the way they deliver their solutions to delight end users and then earn a revenue stream from them.
Chi-Ping Hsu is our Senior VP of R&D in charge of Silicon Realization. Responsibility for the Encounter Digital Implementation System, my area of expertise, falls within his organization. He talked about EDA360's concepts of intent, abstraction, and convergence and how those concepts drive product direction. He noted that design costs are greater than mask costs and suggested that automation is the way to reduce design costs.
Next up was Dave Desharnais, Product Marketing Group Director, also in Silicon Realization. For the engineers in the room, this was likely a highlight of the morning because he delivered a demo which showed a tangible example of how an EDA360 concept meaningfully touches backend design. A key topic that came up throughout the day was Mixed Signal design. He showed how a top-level analog designer could easily interact with digital IP in their design by analyzing pin assignment quality in Virtuoso and then moving over to Encounter to implement the details of the pin move while keeping the top and bottom levels in sync. This is a simple task conceptually which can be complicated if analog and digital design teams and/or tools aren't well aligned. Here's a photo of Dave in front of one of the biggest screens I've ever seen an EDA demo on:
So that took us to our first break. Quite a session from the high-level to the mid-level, conceptually. Check back later for some thoughts on the excellent customer presentation from Ty Garibay from Texas Instruments and a panel discussion on EDA360 in the Real World. I'll also go into a couple of papers I co-presented with customers and talk about perhaps the best part about conferences like these -- the side discussions that occur with people with similar areas of experience and expertise.
If you're looking for a nice meal while you're out here I have a couple of suggestions. One of my favorite restaurants in downtown San Jose is Il Fornaio inside the nearby Sainte Claire Hotel. The Pizza Fradiavola ($13.79) includes mozzarella, tomato sauce, Italian sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, red onions, and spicy peperoncino oil. Delicious. Looking for a nice steak? The Grill (attached to the Fairmont) serves up nice stuff with great service in a classy environment. Pricey, but very good.
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Question of the Day: Are you out here at the conference? What did you think of the morning session?