MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- If you want a glimpse of the future of cloud
computing and EDA, there's probably no better place than in the shadows of
In that shadow, literally a stone's throw from Google headquarters, sits
Raul Camposano, longtime EDA veteran now navigating his company, Nimbic,
through the waters of industry change.
Camposano, Nimbic's CEO, sees EDA embracing cloud computing, but not in the way many
are envisioning. To get there will require the industry to rethink how it
builds software, how it prioritizes business models, and how it
considers its IT strategy overall. And the design area that
will drive the change isn't the one most people might think.
He talked about it shortly after appearing on an Amazon Web Services panel with Raik Brinkmann, CEO of OneSpin Solution, John Olson, Cadence Group Director, and Jason Stowe, CEO of Cycle Computing.
"Buying compute power from the public cloud is going to be a
helluva lot cheaper than doing it for yourself," he said. It won't be for
everybody, of course, or for every tool--at least at first--but "with it will
Cloud Computing and EDA
At the moment, the industry is just starting to come to grips with
what types of software applications will benefit the most from cloud computing
And what might that look like?
Looking toward his own company, Camposano said electromagnetic
simulation is obviously an option because the amount of information compared
with the computation requirement is small.
But, "if you're doing a post-layout task, to transfer a layout
of a terabyte-sized chip you have to think of a different model because of file
Other cloud computing-favorable applications include logic synthesis
and spice simulation.
Rethinking Software Development
But this will also require a reconsideration of how EDA companies
"You need to be able to simplify support to the point that you
can applify," Camposano said.
That may be easier said than done given the nature of the complex EDA
tools and robust support infrastructure customers require. And if you think about it, EDA has spent the past decades evolving from "apps" (point tools) to integrated platforms and flows. But there are
opportunities, as we'll hear in a second.
As an "applify" example, he said, "In an board design system, you click on a net and an app returns the parasitics (RLC) and perhaps the coupling with neighboring nets. It's an "app" in the sense that it only does that one thing, and it is trivial to use."
While the vision and the potential are there, use cases need to be considered and that means that cloud computing isn't for everyone. One of the tipping points for cloud computing, Camposano suggests, is the 20 percent
rule. If you use your computers more than 20 percent of the time--say for RTL
simulation--it's better to host your own infrastructure at this point. And
large EDA customers probably fall into that category (at least for now).
In addition, those large customers have security and license-model
needs that are rooted in history and tradition.
"The overriding issue is ‘well that's not the way we do things.'"
Companies leverage their long-established IT departments, and in a
way, Camposano said, it's like the choice between taking a taxi and driving
your own car. You own the car, so why not drive it even if it's not cost effective?
The big customers, too, have support requirements that a cloud-computing
model doesn't necessarily support or support well.
But that still leaves a long tail and a big opportunity. And here's
where Camposano sees an interesting jog in EDA's road to the cloud: PCB
designers--rather than IC designers--will be the most fertile near-term ground for cloud computing tools,
"I think it will happen not from die out but from system in. PCB
design is much better because there are hundreds of thousands of PCB designers.
Everything is a PCB. It's lower tech than doing dies and more customers can
spend a little money to make their life easier. In chip design, there isn't a
super long tail."
He used Altium and Cadence OrCad as examples. They have thousands of customers
with affordable seat licenses, he said.
"You need a thousand designers to make a million dollars if
you're charging them $1,000 each," he added.
Camposano is a realist as he views EDA and cloud computing--Adoption will come over time as two things happen: Companies realize they can
blend hosted and cloud computing solutions for optimal cost structures and
IT departments move into the cloud.
"Ultimately what will happen is utility computing. Large compute
companies are virtualizing their own centers. It's your cloud, and it's as
secure as what you have today. That is being adopted from an IT point of view
because it's a more efficient way of utilizing compute resources."
Over time, a mixture of public and private cloud computing then
becomes fairly seamless.
And it all seems logical and achievable as you envision it, sitting in the shadow of Google.
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