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Committing to collaborative design

Posted: 03 Jan 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:oem? electronics? productivity gap? eda? eda tools?

Ray Bingham

CEO, Cadence Design Systems

It is a new economy of ubiquitous electronics - an economy that delivers innovative electronics products that instantly become indispensable tools to our business, home, and leisure activities. But these new trends in technology also trigger a host of emerging design issues. The new trends also exacerbate disconnect between design complexity and designer productivity, popularly called the "productivity gap."

Against this backdrop, competition is fierce. There is growing pressure to design products of increasing complexity. Talented chip designers are scarce. OEMs and chipmakers alike face unprecedented pressure to develop new products and get them to market faster. And for every dollar spent on EDA tools, companies spend up to $5 to make those tools work together and effectively. This leaves a huge chasm between product concept and reality.

To surmount these issues and pressures, savvier OEMs and semiconductor companies realize that they must place greater emphasis on their core competencies and outsource to vendors to do their design work. Many companies rely on vendors to provide an already-developed design environment including both tools and methodologies. They might even go a step further and urge vendors to manage that design environment, effectively making the outsource vendor their CAD group.

But there is considerably more to this ever-changing business of design than simply outsourcing it. A top consideration is to initiate closer collaboration between the customer and design infrastructure partner, thereby transforming the productivity gap from what it really is - an investment gap, into what it needs to be, a true partnership within the design infrastructure supply chain.

To be sure, EDA vendors are making incremental enhancements in design productivity, but we have seen few major design concept breakthroughs in the mainstream electronic design infrastructure. It is vital for design infrastructure vendors to develop capabilities to address next-generation design requirements, accomplished through closer collaboration and financial involvement with and by their customers.

OEM, semiconductor company, and design infrastructure vendor management will find it easier to communicate requirements for radically new design concepts. As a result, design partners can better understand future problems, work toward effectively addressing them, and move expeditiously to new methodologies yielding large increases in design capacity. The Gigascale Silicon Research Center at UCLA is an ideal example of the high caliber of collaboration needed. The electronics industry is collaborating with nine U.S. universities to address design problems anticipated eight to 12 years in the future.

I am proposing a radical new approach to continued prosperity for the industry. If EDA appears to be standing with its hand out, it should be recognized as the hand of a true partner. As EDA works closer with semiconductor companies, we will jointly develop processes that boost productivity and capacity, leading to added value in customer partnerships. I believe closer collaboration with EDA would lead to a natural shift of increased investment in design solutions, methodologies, and environments. Traditional expenditures would evolve toward a new financial focus and, as a result, enhanced development of solutions for customers.

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