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Experts seek to expand, redefine EDA

Posted: 05 May 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cadence design? eda tool? verification tool? arm?

The EDA industry needs to expand its boundaries, and could use a more descriptive term than "electronic design automation," according to panelists at an EDA Consortium meeting. Panelists gathered to debate the question, "Is EDA too narrowly defined?"

Ray Bingham, Cadence Design Systems president and CEO, said EDA was originally very constrained. "In the past 10 years, I've seen it change a lot," he said. "People are going down into manufacturing, adding IP and exploring embedded systems. The boundaries are being pushed pretty aggressively."

EDA is not too narrowly defined, said Alistair Greenhill, director of marketing for ARM's development systems division. But he added that "those who refer to themselves as EDA are probably too hardware based. Systems mean hardware and software, and the interactions and trade-offs between them."

Greenhill said, however, that EDA and silicon intellectual property (IP) are "very different in nature" and are not the same industry. IP supports standards, he said, while EDA tools automate the implementation of standards.

Several panelists said the boundary between design and manufacturing is shifting. Jim Hogan, senior VP of business development at Artisan Components, noted that design is a digital process, while manufacturing is a statistical process. EDA should expand, he said, so that "design intent" can be preserved as ICs move through manufacturing, with feedback coming back up into design.

"When we think about the boundary between EDA and design for manufacturing, our view is that the barrier has begun to blur, and will probably disappear over the next couple of years," said Jim Jordan, VP of business development at DuPont Photomask's Bindkey subsidiary. As designs approach 90- and 65nm, he said, there will be much more use of resolution enhancement technology (RET), an explosion in the complexity and number of design rules and much higher mask costs.

At the same time, he said, distinctions will remain. "Design and manufacturing are different disciplines. You won't see layout engineers become expert lithographers during the next few years," Jordan said.

The EDA industry created "static" boundaries - for example, stopping at GDSII - in order to define an industry, said Michael Sanie, director of strategic partnerships at Cadence Design Systems. "Now we're having trouble with complexity and we need to think about re-aggregation. But there are different cultures and business models," he said.

"Let's have EDA stick to its knitting, but the knitting has changed a lot," said Michael Buehler-Garcia, VP of marketing at PDF Solutions. He said the EDA industry needs to help customers with new problems, such as high reticle costs, and design for manufacturing.

Analyst Jay Vleeschhouwer of Merrill Lynch said mechanical CAD companies have expanded their market by going into product life-cycle management. He suggested that EDA vendors try to pick up some of the "integration, middleware, and glue" that customers do for themselves today, and "expand by offering a more holistic way of managing the process."

Moderator Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EE Times, asked panelists whether "electronic design automation" is really the proper term for the industry. If panelists were starting today with a blank slate, he asked, what would they call it?

Hogan opted for "design enabling." Sanie agreed. "Automation is the wrong word," he said. "Enabling is much more effective."

"I prefer using the term 'infrastructure,'" said Vleeschhouwer. "Automation is almost taken for granted." Greenhill said the word "methodology" should be somewhere in the definition. One audience member suggested "electronic design realization."

"We get to define EDA as the customers allow us to," Hogan concluded. "We get to expand as the customers allow."

- Richard Goering

EE Times

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