I enjoyed Richard Goering's Feb. 7 Art of Design column, which pointed out that there is much more to building end products than just custom-IC design ("Is EDA's world too provincial?" page 54). I couldn't agree more.
This is especially true in software development, once the domain of systems companies, where the emphasis has shifted dramatically in the last 10 years: Now, at least 50 percent of engineers on a typical custom-IC project are developing embedded software. No wonder the EDA industry is struggling to find decent growth figures: It doesn't offer any solutions to a significant portion of the design market.
The one point I would disagree with is the myth that embedded-software developers won't pay significant sums for automation solutions. I have heard this for years as an excuse for the EDA industry's not providing solutions, but I don't buy it; in fact, I think it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Certainly if you approach a software developer and ask him to raise a PO for $100k, it won't happen. In today's climate, however, where capex decisions are only made at higher levels of management, a hardware designer would have the same reaction. Indeed, if the EDA industry is selling on an engineer-to-engineer basis, then the future looks pretty black all over.
Effective EDA sales teams have to pitch their value propositions to engineering directors or divisional managers. They have overall responsibility for a budget to get a product to market with certain functionality by a certain date. If they believe a design automation solution will help them, they aren't going to worry about whether it gets used by a software or a hardware engineer.
If the EDA industry wants to rediscover double-digit growth, it has no choice but to provide solutions outside the traditional digital IC domain. Embedded software is virgin territory and should be viewed with a pioneer's eye-as an opportunity to be exploited.
San Jose, Calif.