DAC '94 & The Greatful Dead 
Author Message
 DAC '94 & The Greatful Dead

     /o o\  /  it's a FEATURE!"                 (508) 429-4357
    (  >  )
     \ - /  
     _] [_           The Second Annual ESNUG/DAC Awards

                        "DAC '94 & The Greatful Dead"

      The parallels between going to a Greatful Dead concert and attending
 the Design Automation Convention (DAC) are so many it's uncanny.  They're
 both typically four or five day long festivals with a main floor show
 and lots of more interesting things happening off the floor.  At night,
 you can partake in all sorts of fun in the parking lot if you're at the
 Dead show; or at an EDA vendor sponsored dinner party if you're at DAC.
 Sign that unwritten, unverbalised social contract to not tell anyone what
 you're about to see & do and they'll let you into that tent/bus/van for
 an extra special "fun" time only hinted at on the Dead concert floor.  Sign
 that lawyer written, carefully worded Non-Disclosure Agreement contract from
 the EDA vendor and they'll let you into their demo suit to see their extra
 special upcoming software only hinted at on the DAC showroom floor.

     And just like there are sets of songs that get the Dead audience all
 rocking and sets that put everyone to sleep; there are DAC panels that
 have everyone talking and others that people walk out on.  Just like
 there are light weight occasional recreationial drug users next to hard
 core {*filter*}ed junkies in the Dead concert; there are occasional PC-based
 schematic capture FPGA designers next to hard core UNIX Workstation pumping
 Verilog/Synthesis/ATPG 200 Mhz 350K GaAs ASIC designers at DAC.  And both
 worlds employ "pushers" (salesmen) to provide the controlled substances (or
 controlled software) to the users for a hefty cut of the money.  

     Both subcultures wear special attire (tie-dye or suits), trade bootleg
 material (concert tapes or EDA benchmarks) and converse in special words
 that have meaning only to members of that particular subculture ( "electric
 cool aid", "ghanga", "tripping" vs. "ESDA", "PLI" & "regressions.")  Just
 as there are unique personalities known in the Dead world ( Timothy Leary,
 Bill Graham, Jack Kerouac, Tom Wolfe, Ken Kesey, Hunter S. Thompson)
 there are also unique personalities known in the DAC world ( Aart De Geus,
 Ron Collett, Bill Fuchs, Richard Goering, John Sanguinetti, Joe Costello...)

     But enough cultural anthropology!  On with the awards!

 WORST OVERALL SURPRIZE AT DAC: An awful lot of attendees at DAC were caught
 off guard when they closed the DAC exhibit hall a day early.  Yes, it was
 technically buried in the schedule -- but who reads schedules until the day
 of the event?  (As a consequence, on Thursday, I found myself in a 2 1/2 hour
 lunch/interrogation about industry trends with Ron Collett, a market
 researcher.)  Also, DACnet had technical problems the first day that made it
 very difficult to login and use.  This meant many people were hard to contact
 because they blew off retrying the then healthy DACnet on subsequent days.  
 (A good DACnet note: they added telnet & ftp capabilty this year - great!)

 MOST ANXIOUS EDA VENDOR(S): Virtually all of the non-Cadence & non-ViewLogic
 affiliated Verilog vendors were acting like debutants at their first ball.
 Because Synopsys tipped its hand in the Verilog/VHDL wars in its failed bid
 for Chronologics and because Mentor is openly stating it needs a Verilog
 solution, the remaining independent Verilog vendors are terrified at the
 prospect of not being asked to dance.

 WHAT EDA USERS THOUGH WAS HOT: Because sub-micron & low power design seems
 to be of interest to quite a few people these days, one of the hottest
 talked about companies at DAC this year was EPIC Design Technology.  Their
 PathMill is an advanced static analysis tool, PowerMill is the leading
 dynamic power analysis tool and TimeMill is the a SPICE-like accelerated
 analysis tool -- all for submicron design.

 The second hot topic was Chrysalis' Design INSIGHT and Design VERIFYer, two
 of the very first commercial tools to take the formal verification approach
 to checking if one's design has flaws.  Because they take a mathematical
 approach, they claim that formal verification beats dynamic simulations by
 orders of magnitude in overnight regressions.

 The third topic people were discussing was Synopsys' Behavi{*filter*}Compiler,
 a tool can take algorithmically written Verilog or VHDL and convert it
 to gates.  Unlike regular synthesis that pretty much translates from the
 original structure in the source HDL; Behavi{*filter*}Compiler literally juggles
 things like registers, MUXes and Adders around to best fit the designer's
 scheduling goals.

 The Redwood/Comdisco demo and the recent purchase of Redwood by Cadence were
 on people's minds.  (The big question is how many original Redwood R & D
 engineers going to stick around?)  Cadence's Verilog & VHDL co-simulation
 products were also hot.  (Mix & match Verilog/VHDL source/libraries at will!)
 ArcSys is targeting Cadence in the place & route business and Integrated
 Silicon Systems (ISS) also seems to be attacking Cadence on the mask
 verification front (Dracula.)  Everyone goes after the big company.

 BEST DAC PANEL: Tie between the EE Times/DEC/ViewLogic sponsored DAC
 Forum and the DAC sponsored Four CEO panel.  What people liked about
 the DAC Forum was the fact that they could "vote" electronically for
 what a particular panelist was saying at the moment -- making it very
 audence interactive in a grand way.  (No vendors, only users were given
 the hand held voting machines.)  What they liked about the Four CEO Panel
 was a rare access to how these industry bigwigs saw the world.

 WORST DAC PANEL: The EE Times Benchmarking Summit.  Lots of people on
 the panel and in the audence came prepared to discuss issues like the Actel
 Proposal, how PREP works, benchmarking clauses in NDA contracts and
 benchmarkers who blackmail EDA vendors.  Instead, the moderator (a non-EDA
 knowlegable person) had everyone spend 2 hours partaking in a UN conflict
 resolution exersize where we had to argue the opposing side's point of view.
 (Someone would say something and the moderator would then have everyone
 determine "What should I write in the 'ASSUMPTION' column and in the 'WANTS'
 column on that statement?")  Every time an interesting exchange started,
 the moderator would actively step in and stop it.  As a result, all we could
 do was lightly touch some of the politics of benchmarking.

 BEST AFTER HOURS PARTY: Quickturn Emulation's Tuesday Night Bash.  They had
 a sit down dinner after which the Temptations gave a performance.  Although
 it had appeared that ViewLogic was going to win this with their ferry ride
 to a sit down dinner on Harbor Island and comedian (everyone was smoozing
 like crazy to get tickets before this event), the comedian turned out to
 be a flop in many a person's opinion.  (He was more caustic than funny;
 meaning that attendees were stuck doing nervous laughter to be polite.)
 It was rumored that LSI gave 100 of its "most favored customers" a sailing
 regatta in San Diego bay with six people per sailboat which sounded fun but
 was too limited a party to qualify for an award.

 BEST USE OF DAC TERRAIN FOR A PARTY: Synopsys' Wild Night At The Zoo.  The
 moment one got off the bus you had a table full of beers with helpers saying
 "Take two!  The tour's 45 minutes!"  As they shooed you onto the double
 decker open air tour bus to go around the zoo.  (Harvey Jones even commented
 how e{*filter*}d I was -- he was two seats behind me -- when we saw the sheep
 exhibits.)  Stumbling off the bus, we got more beer and great pre-dinner
 munchies in a party with six different animals we could touch & pet.  Then
 we had a classy swordfish or chicken dinner in an open air Gilligan's Island
 setting.  Afterwards, all 300 of us were given Irish coffee as we walked to
 the firedrummer's performance.  (In contrast, Collett reports that Cadence
 also had a dinner at the San Diego Zoo for about 65 people with no tour and
 three petting animals brought in after dinner.  Mentor did something of
 similar ilk & size at the San Diego Aquarium.)

 BEST RARE DAC FREEBIE: Summit Design's Denim Jackets.  They were well made
 with a small tasteful "Summit" patch on the left sholder.  Total number
 given away: 175  (120 went to their Pacific Rim distributor, 25 on the
 showroom floor and 30 for smoozing American gringos.)

 BEST COMMON DAC FREEBIE: The Official DAC Gym Bag.  It's sturdy, useful and
 has a tasteful royal purple, teal & black color scheme.  (One user openly
 wondered if IBM was "in" on the bag's color scheme because all the IBM
 shirts matched it *exactly*.)  Runner Up: a tie between the ViewLogic Soccer
 Ball and the EPIC Design Technology sports radio.  (ViewLogic conscientiously
 chooses a high quality freebie that's a pain to carry back on the plane so
 everyone can see you carrying it in the airport.  They did it last year with
 the baseball bat and this year with the scoccer ball.  I can't award them
 Best Freebie when their message is "We're awkward to work with!")  The EPIC
 Design Technology sports radio's great (batteries included!) but *nowhere*
 near the quality of a Sony.

 MOST UNEXPECTED DAC FREEBIE: Quad Design's Hammers.  (Racal-Redac and Analogy
 gave out tape measures, too!  Are their marketing managers a little confused
 about what the hardware design industry?)  Runner Up: Aptyx's Coconuts.  Huh?

 MOST CONTENT FREE VENDOR PRESENTATION: Synopsys' Talk On Sub-micron Design.
 I'm told it was 40 minutes where only two things were said: design's is
 headed towords the sub-micron level and there's going to be more transistors
 on chips in the future.  A close second was Cadence's re-engineering talk
 where they spent 20 minutes vaguely discussing customer successes and that
 "Cadence was here to help with your re-engineering needs."

 BIGGEST VENDOR LIE: Quite a few people told me about going through the
 ViewLogic Soccer Ball Quest they had to sit through a "VHDL is better than
 Verilog" talk by a ViewLogic salesman.  The salesman confidently said that
 "VITAL is just around the corner!  VHDL handles concurrent processes better!"
 This surprized the experienced simulation users because they've always
 described Verilog as "just like C but with wires, registers and constructs
 to handle concurrent processes" plus it took five years to get fully debugged
 Verilog libraries from ASIC vendors -- why should VITAL be different?  Ready
 for a discussion on these topics, they asked the salesman to explain his
 reasoning.  The salesman replied: "Well...   That's what I've been told..."

 WHAT DO YOU MEAN:"WHAT'S NEW?":  When people in the Mentor booth were asked
 by a long time customer: "What do you have new this year?"  After thinking
 a bit they found they couldn't answer with anything other than a simple
 design manager tool.

 six panelists ranging from Verilog bigots to people using both to VHDL bigots.
 As usual, Collett tried to conclude the panel with his usual spin that
 VHDL was where everyone was going, etc.  Just to yank his chain, I took great
 joy in pointing out how, years ago, how a researcher at Dataquest had made
 a now embarrassing prediction that VHDL users would outnumber Verilog in
 early '92 -- which later turned out to be greatly exaggerated.  That
 Dataquest researcher was Ron Collett.

 See you next year at DAC in San Francisco!

                                               - John Cooley
                                                 the ESNUG guy

 Trapped trying to figure out a Synopsys bug?  Want to hear how 3046 other
 users dealt with it ?  Then join the E-Mail Synopsys Users Group (ESNUG)!

     /o o\  /  it's a FEATURE!"                 (508) 429-4357
    (  >  )
     \ - /     - John Cooley, EDA & ASIC Design Consultant in Synopsys,
     _] [_         Verilog, VHDL and numerous Design Methodologies.

     Holliston Poor Farm, P.O. Box 6222, Holliston, MA  01746-6222
   Legal Disclaimer: "As always, anything said here is only opinion."

Tue, 03 Dec 1996 23:43:43 GMT  
 [ 1 post ] 

 Relevant Pages 

1. DAC '94 & The Greatful Dead

2. CFP (2nd): Parallel Symbolic Computation Symposium '94 (PASCO'94)

3. CFP (2nd): Parallel Symbolic Computation Symposium '94 (PASCO'94)

4. Cooley's Great-Gobs-Of-Guilt-6-Months-After-DAC'97 DAC Survey

5. Cooley's Great-Gobs-Of-Guilt-6-Months-After-DAC'97 DAC Survey

6. Important PLDI '94 Hotel Information (Mouse, Fla., JUn 94)

7. PEPM'94 Advance program (Jun 94, Orlando)

8. POPL '94 program and registration form (Portland OR, Jan 94)

9. PEPM'94 Advance program (Jun 94, Orlando)

10. ParcPlace Int'l Users Conference, 7/31/94-8/2/94, Santa Clara CA

11. Room sharing: MLW/L&FP'94

12. *** Teamsters, Vegas, & DAC '96 ***


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