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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

EDA: where iPhone 5 electronics begin

September 20th, 2012 by Peggy Aycinena

This week the iPhone 5 goes viral as millions queue up to buy the latest and greatest from Apple. No small amount of ink has been spilled in the period leading up to the September 21st release detailing  everything known [and/or presumed] about the product:

The supply chain [sophisticated & complex], the package [thinner], the screen size [bigger], the connector size [smaller & backwards incompatible], the case [which providers have accurately predicted the form factor], the manufacturing [more distributed], the apps [kludgey Maps], the business implications [a possible uptick in the U.S. GDP based on sales volume], the marketing [a juggernaut], and of course, the A6 processor [a precedent setter].

What’s not heard amidst any of these billions of word about the iPhone 5 is which EDA tools were used by the Apple team to design the chip(s) at the heart of the thing.

It’s true you could presume all of the “major” EDA vendors had a hand in the process, and many of the “minor” vendors as well. Linley Gwennap’s blog of September 15 would support that; the team at Apple that Gwennap describes, including those brought on board by way of acquisition, all come to their work with vast years of experience in other settings.

These designers, who produced what Gwennap calls “Apple’s own CPU”, are surely seasoned EDA customers and no doubt have been busy enough designing the A6 et al without having had to take on as well the task of vetting and/or utilizing a methodology kitted out with internally developed tools.

They’re using the tools they know how to use, Apple’s not making its own tools, and so these designers must be getting their CAD stuff from somewhere else: the EDA industry.

In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet you’re familiar with the companies who provided the tools. If you’re reading this blog, it’s even a safe bet you probably work for one of the companies who provided the tools.

So where’s the news in this? Well, there is no news here, except that it seems like a pity. Everybody in the business of finding stuff out about the iPhone 5 is going to spend the next period of time vigorously tearing down the darn thing, examining and re-examining the hardware to make informed guesses about the where, what, and who of the thing.

But nowhere in that work will anybody be able to tell the how of the thing: How was it designed and with which tools? That kind of guesstimate does not fall out of looking at the hardware and certainly no EDA vendor’s going to fess up, so Apple’s secret is safe.

Still, it seems like a pity. For all of the praise and glory being heaped on the iPhone 5, it would just be nice to be able to offer up some credit where credit’s due: to the EDA companies who, in actuality, are the real geniuses behind the success of Apple’s latest release. It would just be nice to shout for once from the mountain tops …

EDA: where Apple electronics begin!


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One Response to “EDA: where iPhone 5 electronics begin”

  1. Gary Dare (@GaryDare) says:

    Peggy, you raise an interesting point because being in Montreal and arguably the only EDA company in the area, we get a lot of surprised reactions from fellow startups in other areas (web, mobile, biomed, pharma) mainly in the fashion of, “Oh, I didn’t know that existed!” But maybe the topic that you raise points out to a need for a different strategy by EDA as we try to extract value from our customers in enabling what they do. I guess that one classic campaign was “Intel Inside” (despite that 99.999% of Intel’s ultimate users don’t buy their own CPU) and some recent efforts or publicity received by Autodesk (this was while in France for SAME, I caught a piece about them on the tellie at my hotel, maybe on BBC?). But I don’t think that EDAC would have the budget (and maybe can’t raise it?) for a similar effort, or to attract media attention?

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