EDA Unplugged

At year's end, the news is neither all bad, nor all good

Asking senior executives in EDA to give us their “fun and quirky” Best/Worst of 2002 and Best/Worst of 2003 seemed like a good idea at the time. But in trying to get that kind of feedback, you quickly discover that these folks have lots of people running interference for them. Apparently, executive whimsy needs to be filtered through multiple layers of Marketing and PR to produce executive speak. Rest assured, this is not necessarily a bad thing - particularly for publicly traded companies whose stock valuations can hinge on a judicious choice of words, or lack thereof, from company leadership. However, it does pique the imagination to contemplate what might be the unvarnished viewpoints of some within EDA with regards to our life and times.

In any case, it's clear that the business of EDA is nothing, if not serious and litigious. Be that as it may, the feedback below, uncut and unedited, has been organized such that if you want to skip the Serious News, you can just scroll down to the Not-So Serious News and get on with your day. Of course, if you do, you may be sorry - even amidst the serious feedback here, you can sense a long-term resilience and optimism within the EDA community.

(Editor's Note: Thanks to everyone who was willing to go on record and to those who worked to get the responses delivered.)

Serious News

Debashis Bhattacharya, CTO at Zenasis Technologies - “Hybrid optimization unlocks the true potential of physical synthesis tools. Stay tuned for more details in 2003.”

Kuang-Chien (KC) Chen, CTO at Verplex Systems Inc. - “The best in 2002 was the accelerated move toward assertion standardization and the accelerated adoption of assertion standards by designers. The worst in 2002 was the continuing economic uncertainty and its dampening effect on technology advancement. Should economic uncertainty continue in 2003, technology advancement could continue to suffer.”

Jacques Benkoski, President and CEO of Monterey Design Systems - “What was the biggest challenge of 2002? Aside from the economy, the biggest challenge faced by our customers in 2002 was the skyrocketing cost of designing chips for nanometer process technologies. It is now very clear what is required to achieve total design closure on multi-million gate nanometer chips - a solution where design planning and prototyping provide early feedback on timing, power, and routability; and where physical implementation optimizes all design parameters simultaneously. What will be the biggest challenge of 2003? Prototyping, which rose from relative obscurity to the status of 'essential enabling' technology in 2002, will continue to gain prominence in 2003. With this increased prominence comes higher expectations and the biggest challenge for EDA vendors will be to deliver prototyping tools that are fast enough, accurate enough, and can handle designs large enough, so as to provide tangible value to our customers.”

Vinod Agarwal, President and CEO of LogicVision, Inc. - “The best part of 2002 was that IDM (Integrated Device Manufacturers) customers continue to evolve in their acceptance and adoption of LogicVision's embedded test. The downturn has actually provided time for IDMs to evaluate this paradigm shift and acknowledge significant savings in the time to market and manufacturing test cost. Dataquest/Gartner reports LogicVision's share of the embedded test market at 72%. This is clearly very exciting for LogicVision. Another major highlight for LogicVision in 2002 was the introduction of Validator, a desktop silicon debug station for embedded test. With Validator, at-speed silicon debug can be done in hours rather than days and weeks. Going forward to 2003, we see an increased use of embedded test in many consumer applications such as cell phones and digital cameras. This year is going to be the beginning of a multi-year transition from conventional testing to embedded test.”

Chi-Ping Hsu, COO at Get2Chip, Inc. - “For the EDA industry, 2002 has been a tough year. It has been the best year for new technology companies with true innovation. The worst of 2002 was the continued, repeated pattern of the drowning of innovation through the court system. Synopsys, with a ten-to-one size advantage, assaulted Nassda with a set of allegations that have all the makings of a daytime soap opera. After seven years, the Cadence-Avanti lawsuit has ended. The twist here is that the lawyers and Cadence took all of the profits from the Avanti innovation. In 2003, we will see the maturation of the physical convergence tools and the reduced expectations surrounding them. The hype or dream of physical synthesis with push button operation from the RTL to GDSII(3) will face the dark reality of unfeasibility.”

Ian Getreu, Chair of the Design Automation Conference 2003 - “In 2003, the well-known lack of available analog/mixed-signal expertise will get worse and this will increase the demand for analog/mixed-signal intellectual property (IP) and result in more outsourcing for these parts of the design. Analog/mixed signal design tools will be on display during the 40th Design Automation Conference held June 2-6 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.”

Alan Naumann, President and CEO of CoWare Inc. - “EDA will rise again in 2003! We're already capitalizing on the fast-tracked trend where electronics companies are implementing system-on-chip (SoC) designs. In fact, the recent EDAC/IBS report notes that software and architectural design are today's challenges and not physical design, as many EDA pundits believe.”

Lavi Lev, Executive Vice President and General Manager for Cadence Design Systems, Inc. IC Solutions - “At Cadence, we see the worst working out for the best. This year, EDA received some long-needed attention from its customers' business leaders. We all know that current economic conditions have led to severe financial constraints on companies designing complex circuits and systems. Now for the good news. This worst-case economic scenario made business leaders within those companies more aware of how EDA technology was being used to turn ideas into end products. Many discovered that their designers were attempting to force an expensive conglomeration of point tools into a quasi-cohesive flow. The business people stepped in to help streamline design solutions by dramatically reducing the number of EDA suppliers used in a flow. By turning to a preferred design partner (PDP) for a high-performance, well-integrated, cost-effective, more comprehensive solution, customers gain a tremendous cost advantage. Examples at Cadence include our recently announced expanded relationship with IBM and Philips' standardization on a Cadence EDA solution.”

Mar Hershenson, CTO and Co-Founder of Barcelona Design Inc. - “As 2003 is fast approaching, the need for analog and SoC expertise continues to escalate at an ever increasing rate and a new approach to design is imperative to the success of our industry. In 2003, this new method must result in robust and optimal designs in a shorter time period and it should allow for scalability, easy process migration, and minimal CAD support.”

James Spoto, CEO and President of Applied Wave Research, Inc. - “The best of 2002 was the settlement of the Cadence and Synopsys/Avanti lawsuit which removes a cloud over the EDA industry. Competition will return to the market place from out of the courtroom! The worst of 2002 was the slump in the high-tech electronics industry that continues to take it toll on business. In particular, the devastating meltdown of the optical communications industry with no recovery in site. The best for 2003 will be the resurgence of wireless communication, in particular the explosive growth of wireless LANs - and its impact on high frequency EDA sales! The worst of 2003 will be another year of slow-to-no overall growth in the electronics industry, at least for the first half of the year.”

Not-So Serious News

Pamela Parrish, Executive Director for EDAC - “Of course, you can guess what I think is the best thing that happened in 2002 - Handel Jones found a link between design investment and the profitability of semiconductor companies! My second best is how great the improved traffic flow in Silicon Valley is now that there are less people commuting to work :-)”

Mar Hershenson of Barcelona Design - “My 2003 advice for young women engineers is … Forget you're a woman!”

Gary Smith, Chief EDA Analyst at Gartner Dataquest - “The worst in 2002 would be the end of ISD Magazine and the end of Electronic News. The best would be Synopsys' VCS 7.0 (Intelligent Test bench), the EDA Holiday Party, and the Full Disclosure Blues Band DAC 2002 CD.”

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