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Chinese design competence on the rise, according to report

Posted: 26 Jan 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Dylan McGrath? design competence? PCB design? Gartner Dataquest? EE Times-Asia?

Design competence in China continues to steadily progress as PCB design replaced system design as the most common type of electronics design in the nation in 2005, according to a recent report from Gartner Dataquest.

According to the report, the results of an EDA survey in China complied by analyst Nancy Wu, consumer electronics applications were the primary design market in China in 2005, replacing telecommunications/data communications, which fell to third place behind industrial controls. The report found that the automotive and computer markets are also expanding design activities.

Chinese designers who responded indicated that they are more satisfied with EDA tools, but that they still encounter problems, mostly with timing analysis and electromagnetic interference and signal integrity, according to the report.

The size of Chinese companies doing design has been on the rise over the past four years, according to the report, though most respondents still indicate that their companies report less than $50 million in annual revenue. In 2005, more than 15 percent of respondents reported that they worked for a company with annual revenue of $1 billion or more, though more than 75 percent of those companies are Chinese subsidiaries of foreign companies, according to the report.

IC design, the smallest design category in China, was on the rise in 2005, the survey found. Nearly 35 percent of the IC design activity done in China in 2005 was for consumer electronics applications, according to the report.

Though it remains the smallest design category, both the size of ICs being designed in China and the migration to smaller process nodes continued in 2005, the report concludes. The percentage of IC designs in China containing 10 million or more transistors increased by 12 percent in 2005 and accounted for about 20 percent of all IC design in the country, up from about 1 percent in 2003, according to the report.

Thirty-eight percent of IC designs in China in 2005 were for the 0.18 micron node, the report found, the highest percentage at any node. But the migration to smaller geometries is continuing, according to the report, with designs at 0.13 micron and below increasing by 8 percent in 2005. Analysis done by Gartner Dataquest indicates that a large percentage of 0.18-micron-and-below IC designs are being driven by the telecommunications and data communications markets, rather than consumer electronics, according the report.

In an interview with EE Times Tuesday, Wu said she was surprised by the amount of design activity taking place at 0.18?m and below. She noted that the percentage of IC design being done at the deep submicron level is now roughly equivalent to the percentage being done in Taiwan, despite the fact that Taiwan has a tremendous head start in design.

Chinese designers, Wu said, are becoming more sophisticated as time goes by, and will eventually be doing a lot more IC design.

"The reason that the percentage of IC design is so small, is that they are still undergoing a learning curve," Wu said. "Looking forward, we expect to see more people doing IC design in China."

Wu noted that the Chinese government and universities are undertaking aggressive programs and curriculums designed to increase the number of IC designers available in China. While these efforts will take time to bear fruit, she said, they would eventually result in an increase in trained IC designers to help satisfy the country's growing demand.

"I believe that, from the EDA market perspective, China is a big potential market for EDA vendors to look to expand," Wu said.

The EDA users survey was conducted jointly by Gartner Dataquest and EE Times-Asia, a sister publication of EE Times. Information was compiled from 378 qualified respondents, who each responded to 26 questions. The entire report is available for purchase from Gartner Dataquest.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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