Gabe Moretti, Senior Editor
It has become abundantly clear that corporate and consortia sponsored conferences are gaining in both popularity and usefulness over generic conferences like DAC and DesignCon. The reason, in my opinion, is how development has changed. The industry has moved from the ASIC era, to the integrated system era.
Instead of designing an entire system, engineers now integrate subsystems. This has been made possible with the introduction of IP licensing and the growth of the IP industry. From a fledging and challenging design opportunity in the early 1990’s the use of IP is now a routine function that embraces both hardware and software modules.
Now both IP vendors and EDA tools providers can offer an ecosystem that is complete to their customers, both in capability and in range of functions. The result is that conferences like ARM TechCon provide greater utility to working engineers, than the exhibit areas of DAC or DesignCon.
Only specialized conferences like DVCon held by Accellera on three continents continue to grow, because attendees benefit from the focused topics offered. An engineer is concerned with issues covering the integration of design and verification functions finds interesting content in DVCon, while the same engineer would have to work from advanced conference documentation to create his or her own program at times dealing with conflicting schedules.
ARM holds its own specific program within DAC. So conference attendees can take advantage of focused curricula. But the problem is that other companies that enhance the specific environment by collaborating with ARM, for example, cannot provide focused support, since their attention must be directed toward all possibilities available within the conference.
A design engineer attending DAC finds a plethora of activities that are of no interest, or of marginal interest, and has a harder time moving within the conference just to follow what he or she wishes to see and hear.
Professionals dealing with layout and fabrication issues, for example, would find a conference organized by a fab company dealing with its own fabrication environment, challenges, and guidelines, more interesting that a series of academic papers presented at DAC. I believe that DAC sponsor organizations need to take into consideration the changed reality of IC and system design, not just in the material presented, but in the format it is presented in.
The significant increase in size and popularity of ARC Day from Synopsys, for example, is another indication that such workshops are more valuable than generic conferences. The same can be said for Accellera’s DVCon conferences now held in the US, Europe, India and China. Although design and verification issue are global, they have different flavors in certain important parts of the planet.
ARM IP users find at ARM TechCon everything they need to successfully complete a design. Both design, verification, software integration issues are covered with a depth and spread that is not available any place else.