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EDA Tool Vendor – A Rose by any other Name?

 What is happening in the EDA industry? Irmgard Lafrentz, President and Founder of Globalpress, poised this question to me in a recent phone call. She did a good job of capturing the essence of the conversation in a recent blog: Something’s happening in EDA, and this time it’s good! I want to explore this question in a bit more detail.

First, let’s consider the media side of this question. With the collapse – but not total annihilation – of the print business model as a primary means for funding the development of meaningful content, EDA companies are finding fewer and fewer venues for their technology and product announcements. Couple that challenge with the necessity of reaching a global audience with their message. This means that EDA companies must look for coverage beyond the traditional sources. Hence the push into online and social media outlets. (Yes – there are other reasons for the push, too.)

Secondly, many EDA companies are making a serious push into vertical markets with their technology and products, markets like medical, industrial, automotive and communications.

This “shift” way from being seen as an “EDA tool vendor” to instead being perceived as a “system solution provider” is both evolutionary and essential for business survival. EDA companies can no longer focus solely on the design and manufacture of the chips. Instead, they must consider the chips in relationship to the package and board – and even in terms of both hardware and software. This is one reason why IP has become so critical in the EDA tool chain.

This move away from the nomenclature of the “EDA tool vendor” can be seen in the restructuring of most of the big technical trade shows, too – like DAC and ESC.

So, if you don’t want to be known as an “EDA tool vendor,” then what is the correct phrase? System Solution Provider? That sounds rather PR-ish. But what phrase will capture the essences of today’s EDA company? I’m not sure. What do you think?

5 Responses to “EDA Tool Vendor – A Rose by any other Name?”

  1. Lou Covey Says:

    Until these companies, regardless of what they call themselves, figure out a way to describe their value-add something other than a way of increasing engineering efficiency, they still are not going to succeed. The name of the game is reducing the cost of semiconductor manufacturing… not in vagaries (reduced respins) but in hard numbers (reduced cost of ownership, reduced headcount).

  2. Steve Brown Says:

    Cost is the name of the game. Individual engineering productivity is necessary, but not sufficient. Changing the team’s productivity is also necessary. The team, however, will undergo changes. System design will be done differently. Software design is no longer ad hoc. Hardware design won’t be separated from software. Customer use cases will drive development and quality processes. EDA is changing to serve those priorities. Customers will change with us.

  3. John Blyler Says:

    Good words, all. But words that we’ve heard too many times before. I worked on the evolution from SW-CMM to CMMI in the late 90′s and even a portion of the HW-SW CMMI (under the guise of Systems Engineering). All had similar goals, albiet at a higher level than chip and semiconductor design. Some sucess was achieved, but 20 years later. Now, the needs for productivity, efficiency, etc, are being felt at the chip, package, board, module and end product level (for both hw and sw) — that is the real difference this time around.

    The growth of the embedded and consumer markets (not mutually exclusive events) will result in efficencies in both design and manufacture at all levels. Some EDA companies are better positioned to suceed in all these levels than others companies. This will be an exciting time to cover these sucesses as well as failures.

  4. Thomas Says:

    None of the EDA vendors today will be able to become a solutions provider for any domain any time soon.
    While they have a large portfolio of products, this portfolio is absolutely incomplete/ has gaping holes when looked at EDA vendor by EDA vendor.
    Any one vendor who wants to succeed really as a solutions provider will have to address the COT aspect and really cooperate with other EDA vendors to jointly integrate different vendor products into one solution. Something CAD teams do today, and do well. They are currently the real EDA solution providers in the IC industry.
    Will such cooperation happen? With the current back-stabbing/ throat-cutting attitude in the EDA industry, I really wonder.
    Is this just a problem of scale, ie is the EDA industry too small?
    There are plenty of other examples in the SW domain where collaborations/ networks/ seamless integration between multiple vendors is reality.
    Once EDA realizes this as well, they have a chance to become solution providers.

  5. John Blyler Says:

    Hi Thomas. I like to comparison between EDA for the chip industry versus EDA for the broader CAD (package and board)) market. The EDA chip tool vendors are facing great challenges in the technical, business, supply chain and PLM spaces. Collaboration is one way – perhpas the preferred way – to address these challenges. M&A is the other, and not just among the chip EDA players. We’ll see.

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