Annual Semiconductor Treat.

Next week is the semiconductor industry’s annual treat, the Future Horizons conference.

It’s unique in that some evenings you can have three cocktail parties in a row, starting with one called something like the ‘Welcome Cocktail Party’, then perhaps the ‘Forum Fiesta Cocktail Party’, followed by something probably along the lines of ‘The Gala Cocktail Party’ – all tackled before embarking on dinner. Of course everyone, after such a marathon, is chatting happily to everyone else, and it’s more like a group of friends than a conference. What makes it more like a group of friends is that so many return year after year. The CEOs of the three major CAD companies have turned up for the last several years. And it’s not just a series of presentations. There’s a conferring feel to the formal sessions. Aart de Geus of Synopsys, for instance, usually wades in from the floor, and in the evening he’s been known to wade in as lead guitarist. Another good thing is that it’s not a ‘present-and-push-off’ conference where the speakers aren’t around in the evening for a chat. Mostly they’re there for the duration. With good contingents from the US and Asia, you feel you to get a real idea of how the industry looks from different parts of the world in the best environment there is for exchanging news and views – a bar. TOMORROW: THE TEN BEST BRITISH CHIP COMPANIES

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