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EDA requirement shifts to front-end, system-level

Posted: 01 Nov 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:eda? exsedia? rtl? register transfer level? electronics system level?

Five years ago, EDA companies were in Asia merely to provide a presence. Some packed up and left. Now with Asia's commitment to growing its design cluster, more EDA companies are setting up or expanding their operations. Abdul Razak Bahrom, CEO of two-year old Malaysian EDA tool vendor Exsedia Corp., believes that now is the time to be excited about EDA.

CEO Bahrom recently discussed with Denice Obina of EE TimesAsia his forecasts in the Asia-Pacific region.

EET-Asia: What technology trends do you see happening in the EDA industry?

Bahrom: There's a variety of system-level movements stirring in the region. For example, embedded systems are becoming more and more popular. Then there's algorithm to hardware, which is implementing the algorithm directly into hardware. In Asia, we're also predicting a demand for front-end engineers.

A recent report from Gartner Dataquest mentioned a global move from traditional RTL (register-transfer level) approach to ESL (electronics-system level)? Do you see this transformation happening now? When is it coming to Asia?

ESL is where the payoff is. In Asia Pacific, people are migrating from back-end contract work to original RTL design. So there are a lot of issues in RTL design that Asian designers are still coming to grips with.

However, it won't be until 2010 that there is a complete migration to ESL. By and large, Asian designers are still learning some basic design principles and still developing original IPs or parts thereof, but the migration is starting and ongoing.

What's the largest EDA market in Asia? Will there be changes from this trend in the next year?

According to your study, Taiwan just overtook South Korea in terms of EDA market. In the future, there's a lot more competition among China, Taiwan and South Korea as they compete in the multimedia and mobile communication sectors. Expect a lot of jumping into positions. Also, expect a lot of local brandname IC products coming out.

From Exsedia's view, this is quite exciting. We are seeing a lot of government-backed initiatives to promote these goals. For example, in China, the government's target is to produce tens of thousands of IC designers within the next few years. Taiwan is also interesting because of their push to move algorithms into hardware, which is what we assist designers to do. On the other hand, Korea is also pushing for IP development, so we'll see a lot of activity in terms of how to help them produce IPs for their telecom designs. While China is quickly catching up, so goes its fervor on coming up with own standards and domestically-produced IC products. Again, I think that for the next two or three years we'll expect a growth in the front-end of the electronic design industry.

What are the fastest growing EDA tools/solutions?

Currently in China, PCB activity is quite considerable. In Taiwan and Korea, the greater demand is on system-level design. But that's not to say that each of these economies is not involved in all stages of IC design.

We are also seeing a lot of foundries being set up in the region, so there may be an oversupply of foundries. But these countries are also setting up indigenous design houses and electronic firms to create a demand for ASICs. Also, established PLD vendors are setting up offices all over Asia. Either way, as a device-independent tool provider, our customers can use the same design for either platform without making any changes.

Studies say there is a shy growth in the EDA sector, but does this translate into revenue?

For the past year or so, we've noticed a downturn in certain communications and networking sectors, such as networking connectors, but we're also seeing a surge in some sectors such as wireless. This growth, combined with more Asian companies buying EDA tools, will spur the global revenue growth.

Do you see Asia catching up with the rest of the world in utilizing EDA solutions?

Definitely. The initiatives and programs are in place by the economic boards of these countries, and the semiconductor companies are striving to meet the targets imposed on them. EDA will have a sustained presence, and it would become fiercer in the coming years.

- Denice Obina

Electronic Engineering TimesAsia

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