The electronics industry is experiencing a major re-evaluation of its operational values. For years, electronics companies scrambled to create the fastest, smallest technological devices, while never really questioning the value of that technology. Technological advancement was pursued for its own sake and companies lost sight of the fact that products are for people to use. We lost sight of the fact that, rather than always having the fastest, smallest products based on the latest, greatest technology, perhaps our customers would prefer a product that is cheaper and more stable.
At Monterey, our customers develop semiconductor products for use in everything from consumer electronics to computers to high-speed networking and telecommunications equipment. They tell us that chips cost too much to produce, use more power than they need to, don't perform as well as they should and take too much time and effort to design. In this economic climate, we cannot waste time, power, performance or, most importantly, money.
Electronic design automation tools are most useful to our customers when we help them make bottom-line decisions early in the design cycle-decisions that allow them, for example, to eliminate entire routing layers, target a less-expensive, higher-yielding process technology without sacrificing performance, or unblock physical bottlenecks by facilitating real-time communication between architects, logic designers and physical implementers.
Here is an example of how our customers' operational values have changed. Before the advent of nanometer process technologies, chip designers would have developed and implemented a single chip, which was targeted for a specific end product. When that was done, the designers would have figured out which parts of that chip they could reuse for derivative products. Today, before beginning work on a chip, that same customer is planning out a family of five chips, which all feature the same basic functions, but which target five different end products. The design team can then develop a common architecture for all five chips, and physically validate the architecture with prototyping tools. Once the architecture has been finalized, then more detailed work on all five chips may begin in parallel.
As our customers' industry sectors recover, so will EDA. Electronics has become an indispensable part of everyday life, and will once again emerge as a strong, vibrant industry. I believe that years from now, we will look back on the technology bubble and the subsequent downturn as having been a short-term aberration with no long-term ill effects. We will have emerged, however, a humbler and wiser Silicon Valley.