ESC Silicon Valley in review: looking beyond chips…

The 2010 Embedded Systems Conference was an incredible event.  ESC Silicon Valley brought together engaging conversations, almost 10,000 engineers and a wide variety of new products and innovations in the embedded world.  

The breadth of products was enormous.  Few walking the floor could have fully understood more than 1/3 of content being displayed in the booths.  From Ada to C/C++ conversion to bare-metal hypervisors with time and space partitioning, to NAND vendors (did you catch that?). 

My favorite demo by far was the robotic spider that you could control with a PS2 controller.

Dell really did make a splash this year with has a strong showing at Rick Froehlich's keynote  address: Drive Innovation with Dell OEM Solutions, which answered the questions of several attendees around what is Dell doing at this show. Another highlight for the team was the presentation I did with Franklin Flint on Factoring in Total Cost of Ownership when Designing an Embedded System.

Our booth, as we promised, didn't just blow smoke. This picture is the box that houses our Optiplex XE and the dust and smoke we add to show how the unit's advanced filtration withstands harsh environments (like dust and intense heat).

The highlight of my trip was the build vs. buy panel where Rick and Irena Andonova (Director of Standard & Enterprise, Microsoft Corporation) took on William Gatliff (Consultant,) and Adrian Valenzuela (Product Marketing Engineer, Texas Instruments).  

The entire discussion illustrated the typical tension between management who are usually trying to figure out why their engineers want to build everything and the engineers trying to convince management that no off-the-shelf product was good enough for their product's needs. The conversation got heated when the "build" proponents brought up issues around trusting suppliers to deliver on promises; feeling locked in to supplier relationships and a lack of control over component quality.  

Things quieted considerably when Rick stated (paraphrased) "Our (Dell's) quality is better than anything you can put together yourself.  Don't let these guys fool you.  We ship hundreds of thousands of each product we make each year, and we absolutely have to get it right or we will pay a huge price. And I have the numbers to prove it." 


All in all, it was a great conference and I'm looking forward to ESC Chicago on June 8-9..

About the Author: Josh Neland