Posted by Richard Solomon on October 4, 2015
Wow, it’s been QUITE the busy week here! I’m actually out at the PCI-SIG Developers Conference Asia-Pacific Tour 2015 and it’s been very much a whirlwind. It’s been 10 years since the PCI-SIG was in China, and while that trip might have been memorable for my 2.2 seconds of “fame” on Chinese TV, the China event was held in Beijing and not Shanghai, so the PCI-SIG team didn’t have any experience with this venue. That translated to my flying out Sunday morning to get to China Monday night so we’d have Tuesday to prepare for Wednesday’s show. I had a direct flight from LAX to Shanghai’s PVG on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. While ExpressYourself readers may recall that I’ve griped about some details on that aircraft (which seem to have been improved by this trip) I will say this – it’s a VERY quiet plane! Landing after 13 1/2 hours or so I realized “Hey, I never put my noise cancelling headphones on!” so here’s an official ExpressYourself attaboy (sorry, no cash value) to the team at Boeing!
Setup for Devcon Shanghai went fairly smoothly, with the hotel letting us start in the afternoon rather than at 10pm as we expected. Watching the banner hanger scramble up a 20-something foot high truss tower with just a couple of buddies holding the foot-square thing steady was just one of numerous “we’re not in Kansas any more“ moments!
For this Devcon, Synopsys is partnered with Teledyne LeCroy to show off PCI Express Gen4 solutions. We had “video Scott” with us in Shanghai showing off the world’s first PCI Express Gen4 system (the same demo we showed back in June at the US Devcon).
The Synopsys Verification IP (VIP) team had a field engineer onsite giving live demos of our PCI Express Gen4 VIP, and Teledyne LeCroy (they’re everywhere I look!) was showing information on their upcoming Gen4 analyzers and exercisers.
Sadly, turnout wasn’t super high (50-60 folks) for the show, but that made Nikki happy as she was able to win the drawing for a brand new iPad mini courtesy of Teledyne LeCroy and Synopsys:
With the last presentation done for the day, it was off for a quick dinner and a walk along the Bund riverwalk. My only “tourist” time in Shanghai and my camera parked safely in the hotel room where it did exactly no one any good 🙁 Lots of nicely lit buildings and light displays which you’ll just have to imagine.
Thursday morning brought a cab ride to the airport and joining the line of approximately 1.2 million people heading out due to China’s “moon week” holiday. So long Shanghai! An easy few hours in a 777 over to Tokyo where it was time to do it all over again!
The Synopsys Gen4 demo hardware had been waiting in Tokyo after being shown at the recent Japan SNUG. Friday morning my Synopsys engineering-wizard Yagi-san (who’d worked miracles a couple years ago with the M-PCIe demo in the US) showed up bright and early (7am!) with the demo hardware – disassembled for travel of course. With the help of Iwasaki-san and Hasegawa-san, two of my awesome field application engineers, the demo went from a pile of parts to fully running.
As it has been in EVERY location we’ve shown it, the Gen4 demo was a big hit! Numerous attendees remarked on how impressed they were to see Gen4 running in real hardware already!
Japan has always been good to the PCI-SIG Developers Conferences – with attendees braving Tsunamis, power shortages, and occasionally flooding to show up en masse whenever we come. This trip was no different, with over 100 attendees despite some post-Tsunami flooding which disrupted the train system. Here again Synopsys and Teledyne LeCroy held a random drawing to give away an iPad mini – this time to Yoshikawa-san (who may be familiar to you from his presentations at US Devcon 2014 and 2015).
I should mention that the Synopsys guys – after re-assembling the demo in record time – came to sit in with Seki-san (of previous ExpressYourself contest fame) and some other Synopsys folks listening to my presentation. This might not sound like a big deal, until you consider that I’m somewhat famous (well infamous) for incorporating my friends into my presentations! One of the examples I use in the PCI Express overview is a telephone analogy and I think it works much better with people’s names (“I call Seki-san and ask him for 100 bytes of data from address 1000…”). They were all good sports about it – though I think Seki-san might just have enjoyed hearing the female translator calling his name over and over again 🙂
After all that, the Synopsys engineers still managed to tear down the demo and get it all packed away in under an hour! Yagi-san emphasized to me several times how important it was that I keep track of the Carnet shipping paperwork – so even after this crazy day he was trying to keep me out of trouble with customs. (It even mostly worked…) After thanking the Synopsys folks for all their help it was time to grab a night’s rest and get up Saturday morning to bid Toodle-oo to Tokyo!
Saturday’s flight was another 777, but when I walked in, I realized that there was something just a tad bit … different … about THIS airplane:
Yes, that *IS* what you think it is – at least if you think it’s a “Hello Kitty” pillow, and a “Hello Kitty” remote control, and a “Hello Kitty” safety video … and the meal was served with “Hello Kitty” wrappers on the chopsticks, and “Hello Kitty” dental flosser. There were “Hello Kitty” menus, and mints, and air-distress bags, and pretty much everything you could imagine* – including the boarding passes, luggage tags, etc!
Sorry this got to be such a long posting! I’ll save Taiwan and the explanation of “(It even mostly worked…)” for the next one! Make sure you’re subscribed to ExpressYourself and if not, click here for RSS or here for email so you don’t miss any future episodes!
Richard (from Taipei)
*In what might be an ExpressYourself first, I didn’t make up *ANY* of that!
I’ve been involved in the development of PCI chips dating back to the NCR 53C810 and pre-1.0 versions of the PCI spec so have definitely lived the evolution of PCI Express and PCI since the very beginning! Over the years I have worked on variations of PCI, eventually moving on to architecting and leading the development of the PCI Express and PCI-X interface cores used in LSI’s line of storage RAID controller chips. For the last ten plus years I've also had the honor of serving on the PCI-SIG Board of Directors and holding a variety of officer positions. I am still involved in PCI-SIG workgroups and I present at many PCI-SIG events around the world. Back before the dawn of PCI, I received my B.S.E.E. from Rice University, and hold over two dozen U.S. Patents, many of which relate to PCI technology.