With the floor populated by jugglers, acrobats and magicians, the 49th annual Design Automation Conference (DAC) at times seemed more like a medieval fair than a high-tech tradeshow. Not that you couldn't find evidence of modern society.
There was of course a car on the show floor (a modern requirement for any trade show, no matter how far removed an industry is from the automotive business). And Aldec Inc.'s booth featured a robot that, if you made the mistake of talking to it, seemed a little too desperate to make friends.
Also, in what may well have been a DAC first, U.S. President Barak Obama, seeking to acknowledge the critical role that EDA plays in the U.S. economy, saw fit to drive past the conference in a bullet proof car at a high rate of speed.
Was the 49th annual DAC a success? That is a difficult question to answer. The content in the form of panel discussions, keynote addresses and tutorials was often quite compelling. And while the cast of characters outlined above made for some entertaining theater, some vendors complained privately about a lack of actual customers at the show. The attendance and energy level seemed fairly high on the opening day of the show (Moday, June 4), but slackened noticeably in the days that followed.
According to the organizers of DAC, attendance was up 16 percent compared to 2011. DAC's executive committee said conference attendees totaled 1,901, up 9 percent from 2011, while exhibits-only passes increased 39 percent to 2,783. Exhibition booth staff totaled 2,704, up 11 percent from 2011.
"We are extremely pleased with the continued growth of DAC, showing that our attendees like the conference program and that the industry is buzzing with activity," said Patrick Groeneveld, general chair of the 49th DAC, in a statement.
The fact that DAC was held in San Francisco this year, as opposed to San Diego last year, would clearly have to account for at least some of the attendance bump. It has always been noted that DAC attendance is higher when the show is close to the Silicon Valley, which remains without a doubt the heart and soul of EDA and chip design. Anytime attending DAC requires a plane flight—even a short one—the attendance tends to fall.
Next year, DAC will celebrate turning 50 by heading to Austin, Texas, for the first time. The scuttle butt on the show floor was peppered with skepticism about attendance at next year's show.
As in previous years, attendees were treated to the opportunity to step all over the DAC logo at every visit to the show floor. (Click on image to enlarge.)