The best of times, the worst of timesThis week In-stat will host its Spring Processor Forum. I've been attending the twice-a-year Forums since 2001. In some ways, this week's Forums looks a lot like the 2001 events. The show still features processor announcements from vendors large and small. But the nature of the announcements has changed dramatically. Back in 2001, the show was all about PC CPUs and network processors. This week the lineup is all about DSP and low power.
Of course, the changes in the show reflect changes in the tech industry. As a DSP guy, it's been exciting to watch the rise of DSP. But the nature of signal processing applications has also changed since over the years. These days, signal processing applications are increasingly dominated by cell phones and consumer electronics. These markets are often characterized by brutally tight market windows and an emphasis on style over technical merit. And then there is the ever-looming threat of outsourcing—a particularly keen threat for designers of consumer electronics, where margins can be razor-thin.
All this makes me wonder: Are DSP engineers living in a golden era of unparalleled opportunity? Or has DSP engineering become a stressful, unrewarding purgatory? Drop by the forum and let me know what you think.