I attended DVCon today at the Double Tree Hotel in San Jose. Went to the keynote address by Aart de Geus of Synopsys, and the panel session “EDA: Dead or Alive?”
The Panel session was hosted by Peggy Aycinena of EDA Confidential. Also in attendance were Gabe Moretti or Gabe on EDA, and Gary Smith of Gary Smith EDA. Those three represent the main journalists/analysts of the EDA industry. The starting tone of Peggy Aycinena was hostile to the EDA industry as a whole. A closing question by Gabe Moretti was equally hostile in nature. When I couple their behavior with comments over the last year by Gary Smith, the impression I get is that these are a bunch of people pissed off over not being able to make a living covering EDA for the mainstream press or being a full time research analyst. They all come off as a group of “old foggies” and do the EDA community a disservice from their lack of objectivity.
Open question that Peggy Aycinena asked of the panelists was whether they were worried about the trend that certain IDM’s were developing their own internal EDA tools versus buying commercial tools. The panel seemed dumbfounded by the question. She went on to state that Intel and IBM were developing their own tools. One of the panelists responded by saying that Intel and IBM were not the whole industry. Gary Meyers of Synopsys stated that they see much the opposite, that the development costs of creating internal EDA tools was prohibitive, and they were actively working with both Intel and IBM. Historically both Intel and IBM have had large internal EDA tool development programs. It is quite likely both continue to invest in internal tools for specific applications. IBM specifically stated last year at the Common Platform Technology Symposium that they were investing heavily in software to create mask data. When we hear that Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Marvell have large internal EDA development teams, then we should start to get worried about the EDA industry as a whole.
The question Gabe Moretti asked, was why the EDA companies don’t do something visionary, looking ahead 5 years for what the needs of the semiconductor industry might need. This is a stupid question. EDA companies are here to make money for their investors, they are not charities. Most EDA companies I know of are trying desperately to stay even with the foundries in providing tools that match the feature size of the latest process technology. If you want visionary research, look to the world’s universities.
The only other question asked by the audience was why don’t we see more open source software in the EDA world. Ravi Subramanian of Berkeley Design Automation had a simple answer to how useful open source software is. He stated that if you wanted to use a PSP model, you need a commercial simulator. Spice (from UC Berkeley) only supports BSIM. Simple tasks in the EDA world might be able to go open source, but for most applications the technology investment is far too great, the need far too current, for open source software to be able to keep up with the pace of development in the semiconductor world.