Are the in-house DFM tools really the majority of those being used today ... i.e., is there really a market in the EDA space for vendors other than the big 3 or 4 who have the channel and the R&D budgets to pursue expensive advancements in this highly technical area?
In the absence of commercial tools, semiconductor companies do invest in building in-house tools. However, most of the innovation in EDA has, and will continue to, come from start-ups. Semiconductor companies have recognized this fact and are working with emerging start-ups to get early access to innovative technologies. These customers are also driving integration of new tools into their existing design flows.
Will the next generation of designers not need to worry about DFM because they'll be working more and more on reconfigurable or programmable platforms?
The need to account for the impact of process variations on performance and parametric yield will exist and grow for designers of sub-100-nanometer ASICs, as well as programmable or structured parts.
To clearly articulate the business value proposition of DFM/DFY, you need customer proof of yield improvement. We have been amazed at how well customers comprehend the value of DFM/DFY tools and the direction vendors must take, which is not necessarily the traditional route vendors have taken, or investors have advocated, in the past.
Editor's note: Thanks to Kris McArthur for the great photos of San Francisco included here. They are in order: The Golden Gate Bridge, The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, The Transamerica Pyramid, San Francisco from Marin County, The Botanical Gardens, A view from the Marin Headlands, and Lombard Street - the crookedist street in the world.