Birth of an EDA Revolution

I can’t sleep at night.

This Idea has been bouncing around in my head for the past few months. I can’t shake it. If you know me, then you’ve probably heard me talk about the Idea or ask your opinion about the Idea or whether I’m crazy. I’ve been itching to blog about this Idea, but haven’t been able to figure out the right way to approach it.

Then, the other day, Ron Ploof gave me a way to approach the Idea in my blog. Please read Ron’s post on the Birth of a New Media Revolution first before continuing. It’s damn good, you’ll get something out of it, and it gives context to this post.

OK … done? Good.

Ron’s main point is that a revolution can’t happen until all the enabling pieces are in place. New media required easy-to-use publishing tools, simple syndication (i.e. media distribution), and low-cost bandwidth.  Once those were in place, new media hit the tipping point.

Well, I’m going to go out on a limb today with a prediction:

The pieces are coming together for a revolution in EDA. Like most revolutions, it is starting small, hardly noticed by the big guys on the block. In the next 5 years, it will change our industry forever by leveling the playing field, allowing smaller EDA companies to compete with larger ones, giving customers greater flexibility on how and when they access tools and which vendor’s tools they use.

It’s going to happen.  And just as with new media, there are three barriers that will need to come down before we hit that tipping point.  They are:

  1. The high cost of sales, marketing, and support.
  2. Licensing models that lock-in customers.
  3. Lack of comprehensive standards for tool interoperability.

If you’ve been staring at the EDA horizon like I have, you’ve already seen that all of these barriers are starting to come down:

  1. A week ago, a company called Xuropa launched an online tradeshow platform that could greatly reduce the cost of sales for EDA companies and enable greater access to designers to evaluate tools.
  2. For several years now, Cadence has provided access to short-term licenses through their eDACard model and Synopsys will introduce a similar offering before the end of the year. Cadence also provides a service through their consulting organization called “hosted VCAD” whereby customers can access software and hardware on a Software-as-a-Service basis. How long before the other vendors follow?
  3. As Karen Bartleson noted on her blog yesterday, the EDA industry has moved into an “Age of Responsiveness” with regards to tool interoperability where tools are expected to be open and inclusive.  As witnessed in the latest OVM / VMM standards war, open standards are required as the price of admission and “woe be to those” that do not heed this call.

I’m a realist. This EDA revolution is just beginning and will take some time.  It won’t happen without a fight from those who stand to lose out. But I believe that the revolution is inexorable.  And the sooner the EDA companies learn to swim with the tide, the better off they will be after the revolution.

There’s a lot more that I need to say before I can sleep at night, but too much for one post.  Stay tuned.

harry the ASIC guy

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4 Responses to “Birth of an EDA Revolution”

  1. Arn Says:

    Harry,
    I couldn’t agree more that there will be a revolution. I’m guessing that there will be freeware coming out of the situation shortly where we have more and more standards (like Verilog and so forth). The operative system is free (Linux) the databases are free (MySQL) the web servers are free (Apache) the EDA tools are free …. oops maybe we are not there yet.

    One of the things that of course will hold the development back a little is the fact that you don’t want to be spending millions of dollars on a new maskset and
    be standing there with an excuse “Oh it was our freeware that didn’t work correctly”.

  2. Lou Covey Says:

    Yes, a revolution is coming in EDA, but I don’t see it coming within the industry as it stands today. Too much of the real value of EDA is tied directly with the market they serve not as a standalone industry. EDA needs to split and merge into those industries and learn how to REALLY market, not just do marcom.

  3. James Colgan Says:

    Thanks for the post Harry.

    As you can imagine, this is a topic we at Xuropa think about a lot.

    The reason we got started over at Xuropa was because we kept hearing deep dissatisfaction along the supply chain, mostly related to efficiency, transparency and business models.

    Here is a “vector” I would add to the forces that are at play here…

    We believe that the status quo will be supported for as long as those with the greatest vested interests are content with their bottom line - this is already changing. We’re seeing both large and small EDA companies explore new ways to leverage the Xuropa Platform to increase their efficiencies.

    Check out a recent post to our blog describing one aspect of the Xuropa platform: Leveraging Your Greatest Investment - Your Product!

  4. Blooming of an EDA Revolution Says:

    […] been almost a year since I made some bold predictions on my other blog concerning the impact of Cloud Computing and Software-as-a-Service on the EDA industry. So, I […]

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