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Lip-Bu Tan Keynote: Rethinking EDA For 2010 And Beyond

Comments(1)Filed under: EDA, Industry Insights, DVCon, TLM, Lip-Bu Tan

Business conditions are looking up for the EDA and semiconductor industries, but customer concerns have shifted, according to Lip-Bu Tan, president and CEO of Cadence. At a DVCon keynote speech Feb. 24, Lip-Bu described a new landscape in which EDA providers must help customers be both productive and profitable in the face of escalating complexity and soaring design costs. This calls for a different approach to end user product development, and new role for the EDA industry.

The speech was entitled "Breaking through the efficiency barrier." What follows is my list of takeaways from the broad-ranging, 40 minute speech.

Conditions are improving for the semiconductor industry

"The industry is improving. In the last six months there's been a sea change," Lip-Bu said. After visiting 300+ customers, Lip-Bu said he's seeing more new project developments. He noted that at least 10 semiconductor companies are planning to go for IPOs this year, possibly creating some momentum in which VCs will start investing in semiconductor startups again. "I'm very excited about this industry and I think we have a great opportunity going forward," he said.

Some new growth drivers for end market customers

When he visits customers, Lip-Bu noted, he spends a lot of time trying to understand their products and end markets. He believes there are some exciting growth drivers that will create opportunities for EDA providers. Specifically, he called out 4G communications, cloud computing, and mobile video. Such applications will demand low-power and mixed-signal design expertise.

Semiconductor vendors now responsible for software stack

Semiconductor companies are becoming software companies. Lip-Bu talked about a fabless semiconductor provider in the wireless market that has hired over 1,000 software developers and is developing the entire software stack for its products. As a result of such efforts, he said, concurrent hardware/software development is becoming very important.

Design costs are threatening profitability

A new SoC development project may cost $100 million at an advanced process node, Lip-Bu said, meaning that 80 million units may need to be shipped for a company to attain profitability. This is a tremendous risk. "It's not just about productivity," Lip-Bu said. "It's about design costs, profitability, and time to market. Our job is to ensure that the customer becomes profitable in their project."

Closing the productivity gap

There is still a gap between silicon capacity and engineer output. How can we close it? On the design side, Lip-Bu said, it's time move to the transaction-level modeling (TLM) level of abstraction. On the verification side, hardware/software integration and IP reuse are critical. On the implementation side, new technology must embrace challenges such as giga-gate complexity, design for manufacturability, and mixed-signal design.

Closing the profitability gap

Profitability can be achieved if customers efficiently "Create, Integrate, Optimize." The Create stage should produce "integration ready," silicon-proven IP designed at a high level of abstraction. The Integrate stage depends on "open IP access" and rapid SoC integration. Hardware/software convergence is very critical in this phase, along with cost-effective verification. The Optimize stage brings in die, package, and test automation. This phase will rely on expertise in mixed-signal design and package design, both areas of strength for Cadence.

Criteria for successful acquisitions

Lip-Bu commented that any prospective acquisition should involve three things. These include a team that brings value to Cadence, a product that strategically "makes sense," and customer traction that can be built upon and expanded. "If all three are right and the pricing is right, we'd love to do it," he said.

My observation

Listening to the customer is the best way to find out where any industry is going. With 300-plus visits in a little over one year - no, more than that, because some companies were visited multiple times - Lip-Bu has gained a unique perspective on where the electronics industry is headed, and what the EDA industry must do to support it. I hope EDA providers and customers alike will shake off the doldrums of 2008-2009, and share some of the excitement Lip-Bu feels about the coming decade.

 

Richard Goering

Note:  Photo taken by Joseph Hupcey III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments(1)

By Gongwen Huang on February 28, 2010
"This phase will rely on expertise in mixed-signal design and package design, both areas of strength for Cadence."  -- Lip-Bu

I, as a principle EDA engineer, evaluated Cadence Mixed-Signal product two times (using real designs) in last five years at a CPU company and an analog company, both time the Cadence product shown clear advantage, and the product team has very strong members.

So, I agree with what Lip-Bu said. Wish Cadence continue lead the way.


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