Synopsys reacting to the end of disaggregation?
More recently the fact that relatively fewer companies are prepared to
go to the leading edge in IC design at each node has been a growing
problem for the EDA companies. It means fewer design starts, fewer big
ticket customers, less seats and potentially less revenue to pay for
And fewer EDA tool buyers means more powerful buyers,
perhaps arguing that they don't want insights they are sharing with EDA
tool vendors to immediately benefit their rivals. This is what I suspect
is driving custom EDA implementation. Synopsys seems to be catching the
trend, presumably hoping to turn a problem into an opportunity.
are starting to see hints that fabless chip companies are thinking
about putting money down to at least wrest some control of manufacturing
back from the foundries. With fewer players in the field access to
leading-edge manufacturing is starting to become an important point of
differentiation in some markets.
Whether EDA R&D will ever go
back in-house at the chip makers is another matter. It is a low enough
cost item – essentially software – that it could, but it does need to be
linked to very high capital cost manufacturing and things never quite
go back to where they were.
The argument against re-aggregation – the idea that OEMs will develop internal chip companies and that chip companies will take on manufacturing and EDA tasks – is the same one that drove disaggregation in the first place, cost. Sharing R&D amongst a bigger community reduces the cost for all. But it may be that in some spot cases the opportunity benefit of getting an advantage over the competition and winning the bigger prize, makes it worthwhile. That bigger prize could be market share in a fast growing market such as tablet computers.
We are living in the ecosystem era
now but not all ecosystem members are created equal. Custom
collaborations between narrower groups, down to those as small as one
foundry, one chip developer and one EDA provider would represent the
partial return of chip making to its roots.
Related links and articles:
Synopsys to buy SpringSoft for $406 million
Synopsys buys EDA vendor Ciranova
Synopsys to buy Magma for $507 million
'Second coming' of Magma forced Synopsys to deal
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