In addition to the annotated image gallery (click here or on the image), below are some long form comments on particular aspects of this year's Design Automation Conference (DAC 2012).
Verification momentum - I grant that I might be influenced by some amount of selection bias, but I could swear that this year there was way more interest and vendor presence in the functional verification space than at recent DACs. Our group was certainly out in force; where in addition to the popularity of our demo suites and demo pod we were plenty busy supporting customer meetings, booth theater presentations, User Track papers and posters, and standards organization activities like the UCIS 1.0 launch luncheon. And across the show floor it seemed like every third booth was touting a functional verification offering of some form. With the 20nm node on the horizon -- and thus gigagate chips with 100s of IPs becoming mainstream vs. the province of only our largest customers - all this verification-related energy comes as no surprise. (Recall there was similar momentum in this space at DVCon and at CDNLive San Jose earlier this year.)
Formal & ABV momentum - similar to last year's experience, I sensed an increased visibility and interest in formal & assertion-based verification (ABV) related technologies. For starters, we received many such queries at the booth demo pod about our Coverage Unreachability app (some fortuitously inspired buy our Formal-driven Lego Rubik's Cube solving robot). There were also novel, formal-based initiatives like the "Oski Challenge", where services house Oski Technology took a sight-unseen IP block from NVIDIA and found 4 serious issues in the 72 hour time frame of DAC (full disclosure: Oski used Incisive Enterprise Verifier for this ambitious project). Finally, the DAC User Track best paper was about a bypass memory verification project that used Incisive Enterprise Verifier. (Coincidence?)
The low profile of cloud computing - in sharp contrast to last year's DAC (recall Richard Goering's report on the 2011 DAC panel, "DAC Panel Says ‘Yes' to EDA in the Cloud -- But Differs on When" captures the prevailing sentiment of that time well), there was scant evidence of cloud-oriented solutions anywhere on the floor. This is not to suggest that EDA-centric cloud solutions are dead (for example, I know Cadence's Hosted Solutions continues to build on their loyal customer base). Instead, it's apparent that the majority of EDA customers are either (a) reluctant to embrace cloud solutions in general for whatever reasons, or (b) are reluctant to have EDA vendors handling this aspect of their operations. Granted there are a number of applications and data sets that are either too inefficient or just too sensitive to move in and out of the cloud. But in the greater world outside EDA, with every passing day this list appears to be shrinking ...
DAC itself - despite the marginal increase in attendance vs. last year, the show was dramatically smaller than the last time it was in San Francisco. It seems that many customers are too busy to come to a general forum like DAC. Conversely, they seem to make time for smaller, topic-focused events like DVCon, ESC/Design West, or even specific technology tracks at vendor events like CDNLive. Additionally, in 2012 there are numerous channels where customers can get information and support when and where they need it. The bottom-line: while customers continue to vote with their feet year-after-year, at least in 2012 it was clear to me that the declining DAC attendance figures do not reflect the health of the EDA industry, or the electronics and semiconductor industries that we serve.
To conclude on a positive note, the Cadence Denali Party was just as well attended and fun as ever -- this set has a handful of images and a brief video for you to see for yourself.
Until next DAC, may your throughput be high and your power consumption be low.
Joe Hupcey III