Same Industry, Different Shape

The EDA industry has broken out of its shell. The question now is how it will re-form for the next round of growth.

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As the design industry plunges into DAC this year, it’s beginning to look like a completely different industry.

It’s not the players themselves. There are still the Big Three EDA vendors, IP vendors and lots of startups. And it’s all still geared toward making chips. But the center of gravity has shifted from what was almost exclusively place and route and synthesis out to the edges of the design.

There is more pressure to do more up front than ever before. There also is more pressure for EDA vendors of all sizes to find unique growth markets that extend beyond the latest process node on the Moore’s Law road map. While there will still be some components that have to be made at the latest process node, there will be many others that do not—particularly as new techniques of building chips such as 3D stacking or systems-in-package with much faster interconnects and networking schemes begin rolling out.

This has set off a positioning scramble the likes of which hasn’t been seen since EDA was a nascent market. As large companies begin reaching out in new directions—Cadence with software and IP, Synopsys with software prototyping and Mentor with board-level design—as well as continued expansion by the IP vendors, we’re about to witness some fundamental shifts that can only be characterized as good.

The mantra among many EDA industry executives is that necessity is the mother of invention. There is plenty of necessity, and right now we’re witnessing the invention.

–Ed Sperling