SANTA CLARA, Calif.Walden Rhines, chairman and CEO of Mentor Graphics Corp., stuck a positive note during a keynote address at the DesignCon program here Tuesday (Feb. 3), presenting data that he said debunked many commonly held pessimisms about EDA and the broader semiconductor industry.
Contrary to popular belief, the number of EDA vendors is not shrinking due to consolidation, migration to new technology nodes is not slowing, EDA tools are not becoming too expensive and chip vendors are not rushing to single-vendor tool flows, Rhines said.
Rhines, who was also presented with a Fellow Award by the International Engineering Consortiumthe organizer of DesignConsaid he believes EDA growth has slowed in recent years because the industry is in a lull between major technology transitions, and that revenue growth would accelerate once a new problem is identified that requires new solutions from EDA vendors.
"And if you don't think the 22-nanomer node will be a big problem, you should talk to some of the design engineers about computational lithography and other things," Rhines said, adding that EDA would continue to innovate through the current downturn.
"We have to have new problems to solve and grow the market not by selling someone more of the same solution to attack the same problem, but solutions to the new problems," Rhines said. He added that he believes problems associated with multi-corner, multi-mode analysis would emerge as the new killer problem for IC designers that would require innovative new tools and methodologies, thus driving EDA growth.
Rhines showed clippings from electronics publications bemoaning what he said has become a well-accepted trend that the migration to new technology nodes is slowing. Then, using data from market research firm VLSI Research Inc., Rhines demonstrated that design completions at the 65-nm node is accelerating at roughly the same rate as previous migrations to the 130- and 90-nm nodes.
"The data says to me that rather than the slowing of adoption of new tech, what we are finding is the adoption of leading edge semi technology is about the same as it has always been," Rhines said.
Addressing the common notion that EDA tools are becoming prohibitively expensive, Rhines showed data indicating that EDA revenue as a percentage of IC revenue has been "absolutely consistent at 2 percent over much of history."
Rhines pointed to a bright future for EDA, despite the doom-and-gloom that surrounds the industry. The number of chip designers in the world is growing he said. While he joked that not all of the designers are acquiring EDA software legally at the moment, he said their companies would likely "clean that stuff up" as they matured in places like China, India and Eastern Europe.