I just finished four days of audio podcast recording at the 2009 Design Automation Conference and, in accordance with my contrarian nature, I thought there were a lot of good things. Let's look, first, at the numbers. Officially, they are up, but they don't add up, and when you look at the show floor you know things were going south. I talked to 10 companies, who didn't want to be quoted, who admitted that if thing don;t turn around in 6-9 months, they will not be back at DAC next year.
And yet, in all of that there was hope.
Bob Gardner of the Electronic Design Automation Consortium talked to me briefly about the changes they will be making in promoting the show. The details were sketchy but just the fact that they are looking at doing something different ... anything different ... is a move in the right direction. The DAC committee worked hard to present some new and interesting "knowledge niches" in the conference (that's what I called them) related to software, green technology, etc. and there was some interesting discussion around the floor. Chatting with Gary Smith (the podcast with him will go up in a couple of weeks) on Thursday he made the comment that it seemed like there was a sense of community that has been lacking, and I could completely agree with that observation.
It's almost as if the industry has finally woken up and realized sitting in the same place, doing the same thing is not going to give a different result.
There was buzz on the floor about what Cadence was doing with Xuropa, what Synopsys was doing in social media and what Magma was doing about it's finances (it's really a positive thing. I had a great talk with Greg Lebsack, the new CEO at Tanner EDA, who is planning on raising the visibility of that 25-year-old enigma of a company.
And what was really important is the very serious and productive discussion about the state of the media, including bloggers that was going on everywhere.
The industry seems to be waking up, and I give the DAC organizers credit for providing the forum for it. Next year it's in Anaheim. Ugh. Well, I guess it can't be all good news.