A week ago I attended the initial keynote speech at the Common Platform Technology Forum at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The theme of the one-day event was: Accelerating the Future: Optimizing Silicon through Collaboration. It presented the latest news from the platform partners: Chartered, IBM, Samsung, and also from Freescale.
Adelio Sanchez, General Manager, Global Engineering Solutions, IBM System and Technology Group observed that growth is not what it used to be for both silicon foundries and IDMs. The foundries are finding increased competition given the shrinking number of customers that can afford the latest process technology while they continue to experience a push to innovate in order to satisfy the requirements of those systems houses that must remain on the leading edge of technology. The most expedient solution the industry has found so far is to collaborate to innovate creating partnerships in order to get an edge over the rest of the competitors.
In addition to panels and papers, the Forum also offered an exhibit floor where 35 "Solution Providers", as they were called in the official program, had exhibit booths. Almost all of the exhibitors were EDA companies, and I had the impression that all of them had also booths at the most recent DAC. The big four were represented together with DFM, IP, and other back-end tools providers.
And yet, nothing was mentioned by Mr. Sanchez during his speech about partnering with EDA companies as well. EDA tools are taken for granted, and this is a problem. It is a problem for the EDA industry who, in spite of various effort still gets no respect, and it is a problem for its customers. As revenue for EDA companies does not keep pace with the growth of the electronics market, EDA will begin to lag behind the technology for lack of R&D funds. Foundries must begin to see EDA companies as partners, not just as suppliers.
The industry is lacking data that would allow it to make an informed decision about the contributions of EDA companies in addition to enabling the use of a process. I suspect that if we were willing to measure we would find that the use of certain EDA tools and flows shorten the development time an thus directly contribute to greater profits of system houses. How much are those increased profits worth? How could EDA suppliers receive a portion of those profits? EDA executives must begin to think creatively and stop being afraid of each other.