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EDAC CEO Forecast Panel: Takeaways For 2010 And Beyond

Comments(2)Filed under: EDA, EDAC, Industsry Insights, CEO Panel, EDA Consortium

After a hard year and a half for the EDA industry and the economy in general, what's on tap for 2010 and beyond? The EDA Consortium's annual "CEO Forecast and Industry Vision" panel Feb. 18 had what I would call a "cautiously upbeat" mood, with CEOs making some interesting comments about ongoing challenges, new opportunities, and major changes for the EDA industry and its customers.

Lip-Bu Tan, president and CEO of Cadence, joined the annual discussion for the first time. Other panelists included Aart de Geus, chairman and CEO of Synopsys; Wally Rhines, chairman and CEO of Mentor Graphics; and John Kibarian, president and CEO of PDF Solutions. Following are some takeaways from the discussion.

1. Bad news, better news - revenue estimates for 2009-2010

Overall, the panel was much more about "vision" than "forecast," with none of the panelists offering a revenue forecast for 2010. But moderator Jay Vleeschhouwer, senior software analyst at Ticonderoga Securities, started off with some hard data. By "hard" I do not just mean numerical - Jay said EDA industry revenues declined about 10 percent in 2009, to $4.15 billion. That marks two consecutive years of declines. Jay expects 2010 EDA revenues to be in the plus 3% to 4% range over 2009.

2. EDA technology must enable customer profitability

Lip-Bu Tan talked about visiting over 300 customers in the past year, and hearing that profitability is becoming their most critical concern. Customers are contemplating chip design projects that may cost $100 million, and looking at how many units they'd have to ship to be profitable. They need to reduce design costs and meet time-to-market windows. EDA vendors must become "business and collaboration partners" to help customers be productive and profitable, Lip-Bu said.

Later, Aart de Geus said there is a "massive push towards productivity and profitability" and noted that "the other side of this coin is innovation".


The EDAC CEO panel included Jay Vleeschhouwer (at podium), and Lip-Bu Tan, John Kibarian, Wally Rhines, and Aart de Geus (left to right).


3. Watch the semi industry closely, and you can predict EDA revenues

In past years Wally Rhines has come to EDAC forecast panels armed with charts and graphs linking semiconductor R&D spending to EDA revenues, and has offered forecasts for the following year. This year he couldn't talk about 2010 because Mentor hadn't reported earnings yet. But he did note that his 2009 forecast (minus 6%) was fairly close, and he repeated his argument that EDA revenues closely track semiconductor R&D spending. Unfortunately, that spending decreased in the recession.

4. "Excess" capacity is a hard call to make

As Wally noted, excess capacity is bad news for semiconductor companies and their suppliers. But John Kibarian argued that we are not, as some claim, going into an excess capacity situation with respect to logic. There's been a lack of investment for a long time, he said, and new products are driving user demand. "If we see capacity utilization come down, I'm wrong and we've overshot," he said. My take: we will only know "excess" capacity in hindsight.

5. Moving beyond Moore's Law into uncharted waters

The term "inflection point" may be overused, but Aart believes we're at one in the "shift from scaled complexity to systemic complexity." Scaled complexity is basically what we've heard about for years with Moore's Law. Systemic complexity involves "multi-layered," interacting challenges, such as hardware/software integration. He didn't elaborate further, but I would add "more than Moore" technologies like MEMS and 3D ICs to the list.

6. Don't expect a quick recovery

Jay asked panelists about their views of the second half of 2010 (I'm not sure why they weren't asked about the entire year). Second half visibility is "not clear," Lip-Bu responded. "R&D budgets are still very tight. We are cautiously optimistic." Earlier in the panel, Aart spoke of a "very gradual return" for the economy.

7. Is semiconductor industry consolidating or isn't it?

Jay asked how consolidation in the semiconductor industry is impacting EDA, and got a surprising response from Wally. The semiconductor industry is not only not consolidating, he said, but has been in a state of "monotonic de-consolidation almost from the beginning." The five largest semiconductor companies have less market share today than the five largest companies had 35 years ago, he said.

What we are really seeing, Aart said, is a "capex consolidation" around process development and new fab construction.

8. End markets are the number one driver

At last, something that the big three EDA vendors all agree on! Lip-Bu, Aart, and Wally all agreed that end markets are the biggest demand drivers for EDA. Lip-Bu said he is "very excited" about 4G, a "billion dollar opportunity that's very hard to do." He also said end markets and increasing complexity are driving demands for low power design, mixed-signal ICs, and functional verification.

Panel summary - my view

There was no time for audience Q&A, and there wasn't much in the way of revenue forecasts or controversial comments. But I think the panelists offered some balanced, hype-free insights into where the EDA industry and the designers it serves are headed. It was very good to have Lip-Bu join this annual event and hear his insights.

I understand that a video replay will be available on the EDA Consortium web site.


Richard Goering


By skmurphy on February 20, 2010
You need to update your blog picture, I didn't recognize you without your whiskers.  This is a great summary, but my question is what did we learn. First, the things that have been true for a while (using your item numbering)
2. EDA must enable customer profitability
3. EDA tied to semiconductor R&D spend
4. Excess capacity only clear in hindsight
5. Moore's Law is running out of steam
7. Semiconductor industry is not consolidating but there is ongoing M&A
8. End markets are the ultimate driver
Two things that were now clearer
1. Growth looks to be flat for years
6. No quick recovery from immediate economic problems
Things that were mentioned last year that were not mentioned this year:
1. Promise of Green Technology
2. Promise of new Automotive Applications
3. Don't let a crisis go to waste
It was also interesting how Rhines characterized Mentor's acquisition process: "we believe that if you add the #3 tool base to the #4 you end up with 7th place; our acquisition strategy is to build on our strengths."
One question I was going to ask--it's a shame that Vleeschhouwer ran out the clock--was why the Indian service market is not included in EDA, it appears to be huge (at least based on an analysis by Olivier Coudert see www.ocoudert.com/.../why-service-companies-will-eat-up-eda  in particular this paragraph:
More numbers? Let us only look at the VLSI service companies in India, i.e., in no specific order: HCL Technologies, KPIT Cummins Infosystems Ltd, MindTree Ltd, Sasken Communication Technologies, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies. According to the India Semiconductor Association, VLSI design service revenues in India could hit $1.13 billion in 2009, while hardware and board design could reach $560 million and embedded design and services about $7.29 billion. Yes, that’s nearly $9 billion overall, nearly twice the EDA market, and China is not even in the picture yet. Despite the dramatic downturn in 2009, some of these services companies did quite well, and most expect an uptick with a recovery in the semi industry next year.
This is not an argument about outsourcing but a structural shift in the industry (and I think accounts for the EDAC's focus on anti-piracy as their #1 initiative).

By Richard Goering on February 23, 2010
Good points, Sean. EDAC does include "services" in its market statistics reports, but it's not a large number. I'm not sure what they're including. If we include Indian and Chinese IC design services as part of EDA revenues, that certainly changes the picture!

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