MUNICH, Germany EDA vendors must work more closely with large semiconductor suppliers and customers to close growing design gaps or risk losing that chore to the semiconductor industry, according to Peter Bauer, executive vice president of Infineon Technologies AG, in a keynote address delivered Wednesday (March 13) to the Design Automation and Test in Europe conference.
If semiconductor companies are to maintain their industry's 15 percent average annual growth rates which exceed the growth rates of the pharmaceutical, electrical and chemical industries they must close the growing gap between the number of gates an IC can hold and the number an engineering group can actually design using current EDA technology, said Bauer, who was filling in for Infineon chief executive officer Ulrich Schumacher.
To show how design capabilities lag semiconductor process technologies, Bauer pointed to an Infineon road map that revealed timing closure solutions were one year late for Infineon's 0.18-micron process, and design closure tools for a 0.13-micron process were two years late. Bauer's road map suggested that EDA vendors will be three years late with the required manufacturability tools for Infineon's 0.10-micron process, which is due in the fourth quarter of this year, and five years late with viable analog synthesis for Infineon's 0.05-micron process, slated for 2005.
"We are a convergence company of the Internet age and we need to be on the leading edge with our technologies and methodologies," said Bauer, noting Infineon's focus on Internet-driver applications like gigabit and wireless communications, security, privacy and storage.
Bauer challenged EDA suppliers to cooperate and allow their tools to interoperate, despite a growing industry trend to shun point tools in favor of all-in-one solutions. "No single EDA company can provide the full spectrum of tools needed," said Bauer. "We need to pay attention to leading-edge technologies. If not, the silicon industry will do it," even though that is not the chip industry's core competency, he said.
EDA companies also need to ensure a tighter link with process technology, Bauer said. "If not, direct cooperation among semiconductor companies will increase much faster to develop and share knowledge on internal tools," he said.
In addition, the design community must help academia to educate more people and produce more experts, he said. "We need leading-edge research and must provide additional training and education to employees," said Bauer.
Bauer suggested that EDA vendors create a new licensing model with their key customers, under which a customer would pay the EDA vendors a bonus if its tools help the customer meet certain productivity improvement targets.
After the keynote, Bauer said the proposed licensing model could be similar to engagements Infineon has with intellectual property vendors, which have a vested interest in seeing Infineon's designs succeed. "I don't think it will be reasonable for EDA vendors to engage in such agreements with all their customers, but they could certainly do it with their largest customers," Bauer said.