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8 The PCB Design Magazine • February 2016 DesignCon 2016 Every year, I make the trek to Santa Clara for DesignCon. Sure, it's not a "PCB show" by any means. DesignCon usually draws design soft- ware companies like Mentor Graphics, SiSoft, Cadence Design Systems, Altium, DownStream Technologies, EMA Design Automation, Simbe- rian, and Polar Instruments. But every year, PCB has a bigger presence at the show. There are more and more PCB fab- ricators and laminate suppliers on the Design- Con show floor each year, while PCB design en- gineering content is the focus of an increasing number of classes and sessions. This year, DesignCon was bigger than ever. Last year, the show had to move to a new hall at the other end of the Santa Clara Convention Center, and in 2016 it filled that entire space. And unlike just a few years ago, I ran into PCB folks constantly: attendees, exhibitors, and speakers. Why do PCB types come to DesignCon? As a variety of PCB exhibitors told me, DesignCon is where you want to be to get your product or service spec'd in early in the design process, be- cause this is biggest meeting ground for front- end engineers. These engineers are walking around the show floor, usually with a bad comb-over or long hair hanging down their back. (There's not much middle ground in engineering hair styles; it's either freak or geek.) These engineers are seeking out cool new materials and ideas, and they'd love to talk about Dk and T g with you. Every board shop and PCB laminate sup- plier should exhibit at DesignCon. As one new exhibitor told me, "A booth here may be expen- sive, but if we make one sale, it's worth it." One hot topic throughout the week was PAM4 (four-level pulse-amplitude modulation), with nine tutorials and two panels devoted to this "hot new thing." So far, PAM4 is still hard to work with and fairly expensive, but it may provide less signal loss at high speeds and re- sult in fewer traces on super high-speed PCBs. One panel that drew a crowd was "Measure- ment Challenges of PAM4 Signals," hosted by Doug Burns of SiSoft, Stephen Mueller of Tele- dyne LeCroy, Luis Boluña of Keysight Technolo- gies, and Mark Guenther of Tektronix. During the show, SiSoft announced that its Quantum Channel Designer now supports PAM4 AMI models. There were no real slow times at DesignCon this year, even on the last day. Show managers I spoke with said this year's attendance seemed well on its way to beating last year's numbers. NAMM Time Next, I jumped in my trusty new Camaro rental car and high-tailed it to Anaheim for the National Association of Music Merchants show (NAMM). This is the biggest music industry show in the world, and it opened on the last day of DesignCon. Coincidence? I think not. Have you ever driven from Silicon Valley to Anaheim? It was interesting; I've never spent an hour driving through a storm of tumbleweeds before. I'm glad I got to experience the aromat- ic wonder that is Bakersfield, but I think I'll fly next time. And if you're taller than 5' 8", don't ever rent a new Camaro. My knees were in my rib cage for six hours. And it's a big car! Who designed the new Camaro? by Andy Shaughnessy i-connect007 A Tale of Two Shows the shaughnessy report

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