Cadence exec: EDA needs 'breakaway value'
2/2/2011 11:31 AM EST
Design gap is bifurcating industry
One key feature of EDA 360 which may help Cadence integrate its tools in the future is an import from the software world, that is an appreciation of the significance of open-ness. Bruggeman highlighted this in terms of Cadence's donation of the Open Access Database and the Common Power Format (CPF) which it has opened up to allow others to use.
Bruggeman acknowledges that the notorious design gap, that the manufacturing industry can make more transistors per IC each year than design engineer productivity can use, still exists. But he sees it in a slightly different way. The traditional metrics are transistors designed, and made versus time. The use of IP core is meant to step up engineer productivity and has in many cases turned them into integrators. But it also creates an additional set of tasks that EDA must address.
Bruggeman posed a different facet of the same thing. "Suppose chip ASPs are flat to falling but development costs are going up. So at 40-nm it costs $100 million to develop a chip and I need 80 million units to break even. How many applications need 80 million units and that breakeven number is going up with time."
"The result is the industry is bifurcating. At one level you have companies like Qualcomm, Broadcom and Intel serving major markets with complex chips in high volume. At the other end you have boutique companies serving early markets with low-end chips."
Bruggeman said EDA 360 is not meant to be Cadence-only initiative but a blueprint for the industry with an emphasis on systems-driven design. However it is not yet clear that high-end EDA, with its diminishing user base, can be sufficiently recompensed for all the tasks it is being asked to automate.
Bruggeman sees this as an opportunity. "We complain about pricing, we complain about competition and discounting. The question we should be asking is how we can provide more value for semiconductor companies. Because people will pay for what they value."
"The EDA industry has provided the same solutions, iteratively improved for years, and wonders why the price goes down. Instead I'm looking to offer breakaway value."
"We got lucky. The semiconductor design problem got a lot bigger so as an industry EDA got the chance to increase its value." And when it comes to pricing its wares EDA needs to be moved up from a negotiation with a purchasing manager. It needs to return the discussion to a more strategic level. "We need to get back into the executive suite," said Bruggeman.