Thought Leadership

DAC and Embedded TechCon – embedded and EDA coming together?

By Colin Walls

It is hard to believe that it is almost 20 years since Mentor Graphics started to build a presence in the embedded software world by acquiring Microtec Research [and getting me as a result]. There has been much development and numerous other acquisitions [most notably Accelerated Technology] since then and the Embedded Systems Division [a.k.a. Mentor Embedded] has gone from strength to strength.

However, the worlds of embedded software and electronic design automation [EDA] have remained surprisingly separate …

I always had a positive view of Mentor’s strategy – actually I still do. It just seemed logical to bring together the, naturally interdependent, software and hardware design disciplines. To a significant extent, the meeting of minds has occurred – various co-verification technologies have found wide acceptance and designing low power devices is necessarily a team effort. At the same time, there are still two distinct communities within companies and the industry as a whole. Manifestations of this are trade shows and conferences, where there are embedded events and EDA events. Well, that is the way it has been …

Maybe the situation is about to change and, if you in or near San Francisco in the week beginning 8 June, you can participate. At the Moscone Center, a number of events are taking place. At the core is the Design Automation Conference [DAC], which has been the foremost EDA conference for many years. If you are unfamiliar with DAC, you can get a flavor of the whole event and its culture by reading the blog of the DAC General Chair, Anne Cirkel, whom I know well. This year, the conference has a strong embedded track – I served on the selection committee for this part of the conference and there is some very interesting material in the program.


As if that were not enough, there is more. DAC is a classic technical conference, with a rich mixture of the theoretical and the practical. Right next door, also at Moscone, another conference will be taking place simultaneously: the Embedded TechCon, which has the tag line “Everything Practical. Nothing Theoretical”. I think that says it all. It is hard to generalize about a large population like the engineers that specialize in embedded software development, but, in my experience, the one thing I would say is common to all the ones whom I have met is a bent towards the practical. This will be a very interesting event.

If you are an embedded software developer and you attend either DAC or Embedded TechCon, I would love to hear your impressions. Please comment, email or use social media. I look forward to hearing from you.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at