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Asia's EDA moment is just around the corner

Posted: 17 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Asia EDA market? India? IC design tools?

Yang: As Asian engineers grow more mature, they will take in more design jobs.

Many industry observers have declared 2006 as the best year of the decade so far for the EDA industry. Revenue growth hit the 11-12 percent range, fueled primarily by the huge investment in DFM-aware IC design tools. Other factors that drove revenues to new heights include a robust semiconductor industry, an intense consumer electronics market and the transition from 65nm to 45nm design rules.

For 2007, expectations are still high, although growth forecasts are slightly lower7 to 8 percentas compared to last year. Nevertheless, stronger performance is expected to resume in 2008 and 2009, spurred by investments in ESL tools, according to a Gartner report. Such bright outlook has made Mentor Graphics Corp. optimistic and driven. Apart from a satisfactory performance in the first half, the EDA tool vendor stepped up its product portfolio with the acquisition of Sierra Design Automation last May. The company is also aggressively promoting its automotive offerings. Moreover, Mentor is boosting further its presence in Asia, particularly in India and China, seeing the region churning out new, sophisticated designs in a couple of years' time.

In this interview with EE Times-Asia, Daniel Yang, managing director, Pacific Rim operations, discusses the Asian designer's future and how the region is shaping up to captivate the EDA industry.

EE Times-Asia: The EDA market has always been divided into the United States, Europe and Japan. How is the rest of Asia faring these days?
Daniel Yang: Well, for the last 10 years, the growth rate for the worldwide EDA market is just in the 2-3 percent range. But for Asia excluding Japan, the market always grows in double-digit figures, from 11 to 14 percent.

In terms of market size, Taiwan is still the biggest. South Korea is growing rapidly. India is growing fast too, but the numbers are quite confusing because of the presence of many multinational companies. As you know, most of these multinational companies finalize purchase deals in the U.S. or Europe. India just got the location.

There are several points I want to emphasize regarding India. First, when we look at the number of multinational companies in India today, there is this great drive for the India team to take initiative. Several years back, sophisticated designs in terms of functional modifications and enhancements were not taken up immediately by India engineers. These days, however, we see more initiative from the India entity of multinational corporations in terms of taking up sophisticated designs.

Second, in terms of the advancement of technology or technology adoption, India engineers are also taking more initiative. There are a lot of young engineers there, and they are very eager to take up the chance of looking for new ways to solve design problems.

Third, there are the startup companies. The number of startup companies in India are increasing rapidly. The growth rate is said to be even faster than China. These startup companies have learned a lot from multinational corporations and learned a lot of process and technologies. So they come out, form their own companies and receive funding from venture capitalists. And they will contribute a significant amount to India's EDA market.

What about Korea's case?
Well, Korea is a different market. It is the big companies that are adopting advanced technologies. This is why the market is growing fast.

How about China?
China, surprisingly, is just of moderate growth.

Moderate growth for China?
Yes, just moderate growth. The market growth for China still needs some prodding. There are still some hurdles that need to be overcome like paying the real value for software.

What are the design challenges Asian engineers are facing nowadays? What are their biggest concerns?
Time-to-market and how to make the first silicon successful are among the challenges. As designs multiply and technology nodes become more sophisticated, the first pass yield is kind of low.

Another challenge for engineers is that they have to deal with added functions. In the past, you just design the ASIC. Now, you have the SoC, so complicated. How can you verify all the design functions in the original fab? It becomes almost impossible to verify design functions in the current stage. It's very time consuming. We see the engineer spending more and more time trying to verify the design to fit the original concept.

Then there's the consumer market, where low power is a key subject.

So how can you make your original design under the original spec, low power requirement and other issues? EDA vendors need to provide solutions to solve the current problems.

Does this mean EDA vendors need to come out with tools fit for Asian designer's needs?
I wouldn't say fit for Asian designers. Today, the world is flat. It does not necessarily mean designs are only for Asia. Designs are global. The EDA tool is universal. The issues designers face in Asia, engineers in the U.S. and Europe face them, too. U.S. and Europe engineers may have accumulated more experience, know-how in solving problems, but then we are seeing the gap between Europe and Asia getting smaller. This means the design challenge in Asia is becoming heavier.

However, you cannot just stop with the same methodology. Designs are changing. There are different technology nodes. You need to continue evolving, keep methodologies coming. You need to find out the best tool in the market.

Do you think EDA vendors are not paying that much attention to Asia?
Asia still represents a small percentage relative to the worldwide EDA market. The U.S., Europe and Japan are the revenue generators, and they are the users of advanced design methodology.

But the situation is evolving. As I have mentioned, growth in Asia is about 3-4 percent more than in the U.S. and Europe. Though this seems relatively small, Asia is growing in such a fast pace. That's why there's a lot of attention not only from our headquarters but from other vendors as well.

As they [Asian engineers] grow more mature, they will take in more design jobs. That's why Mentor is so positive about the region.

- Celeste dela Torre
EE Times-Asia

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