March 24, 2003
EDA in Taiwan & China
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Peggy Aycinena - Contributing Editor

by Peggy Aycinena - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

[Certainly] in Taiwan, there's still price competition among the EDA vendors, but it's not [anywhere near] the level of price point that is being offered in China. [Additionally], since Taiwan has been engaged in design for many years - getting started much earlier than in China - they're familiar with the vendors and which vendor can provide which functions and at which price point.

This is not happening broadly across China, [however], since the design market there has only become [a reality] in the last two to three years. [In fact], the EDA vendors have just started to launch their programs in China and lots of vendors are not selling into that market at all. So the local design communities in China don't [even] know which vendors are out there. What the Chinese design community needs to know, [today], is who is out there and who can help them do their designs.

[Certainly], the Chinese know Synopsys, Cadence, Mentor and maybe another 10 vendors out of the top EDA companies. But it's not like in the North American design community, where those designers are aware of 50 to 60 percent of the [EDA] companies. It's going to take some time for the engineers in China to know who's out there - the EDA vendors need to promote their tools and get their names out there in China.

For many EDA companies, particularly the start-ups in North America, it's really a business decision. Many of those start-ups are still in the design phase of their own tools - maybe they can sell one or two of their point tools to large North American customers [or customers in Japan or Europe], but those small companies aren't able, or ready, to move into emerging markets like China. [As always], it takes quite a while for a small [EDA] start-up to get into the market anywhere.

For mid-size companies, however - those who have established a steady business and are able to remain financially stable, even during the downturn - those are the companies who should be capable of sustaining exploration into new areas.

[Meanwhile], piracy is [always] a concern in emerging markets, particularly in China. For instance, we're seeing certain vendors who have a higher percentage of tool usage rates in China than [should be expected] when compared to their reported sales. The question is - Where are those engineers getting access to that software? [Not surprisingly], several vendors have seen that piracy is an issue and they've [noted] wide spread use of their tools.

Do the vendors worry about it? They tell us - no, they do not. They say - yes, it's a concern to them, but what can they do? One vendor has told us that they're happy to see this wide spread use of their tool, because at least it's opening the market for them. They feel that they will get maintenance fees for the [pirated] software and they'll be able to keep relationships with those design houses [where the pirated software is being used]. Those vendors believe that, as those design houses get bigger, they will ask for more software seats and will end up paying for those seats eventually.

[Clearly], the EDA market in China is small now, but it's growing much faster than other areas around the world. That is part of the reason why a lot of tools have been pirated. But, in general, those pirated tools are the lower-end tools. Users are not really able to copy the high-end tools, because they need training and support to use those high-end tools and to work around the bugs. [Again], it appears that for some EDA vendors - those who are engaged in providing the next-generation design tools - they are happy to see that there are lots of users out there and happy to think that someday those users will migrate to the need for the next generation of tools.

Politics across the Taiwan Straight

Taiwan and China have had a tense relationship for a long time. Gradually, however, they're moving closer to each other. You can't expect that leap to happen quickly and there are so many restrictions that must be lifted [by both governments] to allow joint [business development]. There is a lot of effort going on in the commercial area [to lower the barriers] - people in both countries lobbying their governments to open up to each other.

China has always felt that Taiwan is part of their country, so China's approach is pretty much to welcome any investment from Taiwan on the mainland. [However], Taiwan is at the opposite end of that philosophy - they're still trying to maintain a distance from China, to educate their people that China is the 'other' country, [to insist] that Taiwan won't talk to China until Taiwan is accepted as an independent country.

So the two governments come at the problem from very different standpoints. Taiwan has certain rules, for instance, about how much you can invest in China in a particular year. But, [as with everything], there are always tricks to get around those kind of rules. Large companies like TSMC and UMC are always under the spotlight [from the government of Taiwan], so it's not easy for them. But small and middle-sized companies can get around the rules and know that the government won't see that they're [working outside the rules].

[Meanwhile], businessmen on both sides of the Straight continue to try to reduce the barriers to joint ventures.

Major centers of design

Geographically, in Taiwan Hsin-chu is still the major design area. Tai-nan is in the southern part of the island, but that [technology center] is still under development, so there's not a lot of design effort going on there as yet.

In China, there are actually a lot of different cities and provinces engaged in various types of design work including Guangdong, Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu, Zhejian, Sichuan, and Shandong - where Shanghai and Beijing are the most significant cities in design with the largest number of designers engaged in different types of design.

Currently, there is only one major EDA show in China - EDAT Expo, Electronic Design Automation & Test Expo - that focuses on EDA. [EDA&T was held in early March 2003, in Shanghai and Beijing.] ASP-DAC, for instance, never happens in Taiwan or China. There are other shows in Taiwan and China - but they have much more emphasis on manufacturing, not on design.”

In closing

Previously Nancy Wu worked as a securities analyst in Taiwan and also served in various capacities at Avanti. In closing, she said that Dataquest is “the best place I've ever worked.” When asked about Gary Smith's on-going interest in Taoism, she said, “Not only has he studied the philosophy closely, but he practices it as well. That,” she added with a smile, “is great for me, because he's my boss.”

Industry News - Tools & IP

Cadence Design Systems, Inc. announced that Wintegra has deployed the Cadence Encounter digital IC design platform in Wintegra's WinPath Access packet processor. WinPath is a family of single-chip products to process 20+ protocols simultaneously on-chip for access networks.

Circuit Semantics, Inc. (CSI) announced DynaCell-SI, an automated characterization and modeling tool for signal integrity verification of cell-based digital ICs, including both ASIC and COT flows. The company says the DynaCell-SI provides information required by signal integrity analysis tools to verify the level of tolerance of a design to the effects of noise and the impact on performance. DynaCell-SI identifies the functionality of a cell, generates comprehensive, non-redundant vector stimuli for characterization, characterizes the cell for noise using SPICE simulation, and generates a library model based on Synopsys' open Liberty library standard. The product requires the SPICE
netlist and process model for each cell as input, as well as user information on desired ranges for glitch heights and widths, voltages, and output loads.

LogicVision, Inc. announced that Oak Technology has selected LogicVision's Validator desktop silicon debug station for at-speed debugging of its IC designs integrated with LogicVision's embedded test technology. Alex Sinar, Vice President of Operations for Oak's TeraLogic Group, said, “Oak Technology is seeing strong demand for highly integrated SoCs for HDTV. The unique combination of LogicVision's Embedded Test technology and the Validator enables us to perform at-speed debug of our multi-million gate chips in days instead of weeks and pinpoint manufacturing yield hazards for rapid
analysis and corrective action.”

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-- Peggy Aycinena, Contributing Editor.

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