The Business of DFM


Mike Gianfagna, Aprio Technologies -- Two answers. 1) Immature markets are hard to explain. With maturity comes clarity. 2) Many VCs have written checks for DFM funding. That fact proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the VC community knows enough to make a choice … which VC is correct is another matter. Time is needed for that answer.

Naeem Zafar, Pyxis Technology -- You will be surprised how things have changed in the last 2 years. I just finished raising the money for our Series B funding, and DFM is understood today more than one may realize.

Nitin Deo, Ponte Solutions -- I agree with you. Right now the main issue is that when you say DFM, it covers so many aspects of the issue, that you have to go down to the technical detail to explain your point of view. But, that will go away over time. As designers start using these tools and start showing signs of real success, real difference in the predictability of yield and increased yields, with real trade-offs - not just black & white (pass or fail), the discussions will start moving toward benefits of using such tools.

It is much like selling life insurance. The first time someone sold it, he had to explain the details. But, once people saw that someone was actually paid from a life insurance, the discussion was all about 'what' can the agent do for them and not 'how'! Now, let me go and talk to 4 out of the 10 largest fabless companies 'what' Ponte is doing for them!

Rob Aitken, ARM -- The DFM environment continues to be very dynamic. The mutual influence of design and manufacturing has forced the abandonment of several positions that have been thought of as fundamental, including “design is finished at tapeout”, “yield is a manufacturing issue, not a design issue”, and “DRC clean guarantees yield”. This level of paradigm shift (apologies for using that term) always results in both under-appreciation of the magnitude of the changes as well as over-reaction to them.

Effective DFM does not require that every designer know how to configure the aperture and exposure of a stepper, but neither is it (yet) so simple that a magic set of tools will solve the problem without designer intervention. The level of awareness of the issues and nature of the solutions is increasing in both the business and technical communities, to the point where a strategy of predicting doom while waving around incomprehensible charts and formulae is unlikely to result in either VC funding or sales.

As people become accustomed to DFM, the technology part will disappear from the business panels. Other tools have passed through this transformation previously, a recent example being noise and IR drop tools. In some sense, this is a standard phase in any design automation process, but the VLSI design and manufacturing communities have been separated for so long that this transition is a bit more pronounced than most.

Thomas Blaesi, SIGMA-C -- Since DFM is the fastest growing part of the EDA market, it's being talked about by a lot of different people on a lot of different levels.

Regardless of how complex an issue DFM may be, a comprehensive DFM methodology can substantially improve the yield of a 65-nanometer fab, which translates into hundreds of millions of dollars in savings. That is attractive for designers, semiconductor manufacturers, and VCs.

Srinivas Raghvendra, Synopsys -- DFM is at the intersection of design and manufacturing, and a good understanding of DFM requires that we understand both design and manufacturing in some depth. This is a small group of people today, but that group is growing.

Won-Young Jung, Nanno SOLUTIONS -- Not many understand, because DFM is not only a design problem, but also a process problem. Very few VCs understand these issues.

Yervant Zorian, Virage Logic -- Designers should not need to know the details of what is inside the DFM tools that they are using. Like other trends in the past, the users don't need to know about the algorithms [at the heart of their tools]. And, as I said, if the IP has the necessary DFM, it can repair itself while being totally transparent to the designers, i.e. the users don't need to know the algorithms that solve problems [embedded there]. Some VCs though are more technical than others are, but in most cases VCs also don't need to understand the details to see the value.

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  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Ronald'
    I've been following Peggy's article for more than three years. It is always fresh and informative. This article gives you a quick history (see NTI section) and future vision (see OPC/RET section).


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  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Ronald'
    I've been following Peggy's article for more than three years. It is always fresh and informative. This article gives you a quick history (see NTI section) and future vision (see OPC/RET section).


      Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)


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