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First Thoughts from #54DAC!

First Thoughts from #54DAC!
by Daniel Nenni on 06-24-2017 at 7:00 am

 This was my 34[SUP]th[/SUP] DAC, yes 34. It is a shame blogging did not exist back then because I would have liked to have read thoughts from my eager young mind, or maybe not. The first thing that struck me this year is the great content. Before DAC I review the sessions I want to see and this year there were many more than I had time for. Thankfully most of them were recorded so I can go back and see the ones I missed because there were quite a few.

SemiWiki had five bloggers covering DAC this year so you will be seeing the resulting blogs for weeks to come. Next year we will have more bloggers because #55DAC is in San Francisco and I’m expecting even more great content.

The other thing that stuck out is the ages of the DAC attendees. There were many more under 35 than before and this tracks with the SemiWiki analytics. Currently (so far in 2017) the majority of our traffic is under 35 years old. That is a real positive sign, and the female readership is now in double digits and increasing steadily. I credit the DAC committee with attracting a younger crowd through University programs and such. The poster sessions this year were packed, the free food and drinks during the receptions probably helped attendance but that counts.

As for the total crowd, it seemed much lighter than I remember from last year and a lot less than San Francisco the year before but we will have to wait for the official word from DAC. There were quite a few first time exhibitors this year which is a great sign and you should expect even more next year in San Francisco. I took a look at the Solido meeting room schedule and was surprised to see both of their meeting rooms were booked up. Impressive! Other vendors I asked said the same. Pre-setting meetings is definitely the way to go.

The award for the best booth goes to OneSpin for sure. It was not the busiest booth but it definitely stood out. I would have to say that Cadence had the busiest booth as they usually do.

One of the trending topics at DAC and on SemiWiki is artificial intelligence and I would expect that to continue for years to come. On SemiWiki we track different application areas such as AI, Automotive, Mobile, IoT, and Security. We can then cross section that with geography, vendor, events, etc… The thing about AI is that it seems to touch all of the application areas and that is great news for semiconductors because AI will consume massive amounts of silicon for processing power and storage. The foundries will benefit because leading edge silicon will be in great demand and of course the memory makers will take their fair share of the profits.

Speaking of foundries, Synopsys was kind enough to host foundry events for TSMC, Samsung, GF, and Intel that were packed. TSMC, Samsung, and Intel were breakfasts and GF was dinner. Press was not allowed in the Intel breakfast but I attended the other three. As soon as the videos are posted I will publish my blogs because they are definitely worth viewing. We will do the same with the other bloggers and the recorded sessions they attended. I was told links would be posted in two weeks so stay tuned. Synopsys had a Press/Analyst table right up front and Aart de Geus sat with us both mornings. As I have said before, Aart is one of the most interesting people in EDA so sitting with Aart is a session in itself.

One of the more interesting discussions after the foundry sessions that I heard was: Why are the foundries releasing so many process versions? Some of the answers made me cringe. The easy answer is that customers are asking for them. In the case of TSMC that is a plausible answer because TSMC is very customer driven. You can call it collaboration but realistically TSMC builds capacity based on customer demand which is why TSMC has very high fab utilization rates. I also believe TSMC is using the quick node strategy to protect their customer base. For example, SMIC and UMC are shipping TSMC compatible 28nm. Now they will have to follow TSMC to 22nm. UMC and SMIC are also working on FinFET processes that will likely be “TSMC like”. Well, they had better be TSMC 12nm “like”.

DAC is a lot of work for everyone associated with it including exhibitors, presenters, panelists, committees, bloggers, etc… Please make sure your gratitude is well placed because without DAC I seriously doubt we would have the semiconductor audience we have today, absolutely.

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