What EDA360 Isn’t

Changing the direction of important from hardware to software can have a profound effect on EDA’s growth prospects.

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By Mike Gianfagna
The EDA360 White Paper that Cadence Design Systems published a few months back certainly has everyone talking. It’s well written. The messages are compelling. The content has a viral quality. The printed collateral is visually appealing. The microsite is engaging. Most of us only wish we had the marketing budget to do this kind of stuff.

A healthy marketing budget is a necessary but not sufficient requirement to communicate a compelling vision, however. You can have Bill Gates-class money, and if you don’t have a good idea, it just doesn’t matter. What I want to focus on for a moment is the other side of the buzz. Everyone is talking up EDA360 – interpreting its message, endowing it with all kinds of subtle, and not-so-subtle implications. Here is one person’s view of what EDA360 is NOT:

Let’s start with the obvious. EDA360 isn’t a recipe for struggling startups to find liquidity. The vision is bigger than any one company, especially a small one, to accomplish. Apologies to the venture community – EDA360 isn’t a way to find a quick exit.

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EDA360 doesn’t define the rules for a new board game, although that actually might be fun for the nerds among us.

EDA360 isn’t pure Cadence marketing hype. OK, some people think maybe that’s exactly what it is. Here is a test – if you were going to use a high visibility platform like this to promote your company’s products and direction, wouldn’t you make sure the message lined up with what you were offering?

So, take a close look through the EDA360 document. See anything in there that looks like a current Cadence product – maybe even a roadmap presentation from last year or something like that? You’ll find yourself stretching here.

Here’s my favorite one – EDA360 isn’t a template for your company’s new brochure. You don’t take the document’s message, copy all the figures, and say “me too.” That’s IP reuse taken too far. The vision behind EDA360 requires a new approach to design methodology and customer acquisition. It demands a fundamentally new approach to the market and a collaborative attitude to get there. “Me too” doesn’t work.

So what is EDA360? It represents a lot of ideas, strategies and predictions. For me, the most compelling piece is access to new customers and new markets. Let’s face it, EDA has been stuck in the same demographic for a while now. As an industry, we’re good at figuring out how to win existing budget from a competitor but not so good at finding new budget. EDA360 proposes there is a new demographic – the software development community who writes code for consumer products.

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These folks typically live with the hardware they get and do their best to make the software work on it. The semiconductor and EDA communities think this is just fine. After all, we’re at the center of the universe, right? The arrows always radiate out from what we’re doing.

What if we decide the arrows are pointing in the wrong direction? What if the software development community drives the hardware architecture? That would make for a very different design methodology, one with a new source of potentially unambiguous specs. In this upside-down world there might be new customers, new budget, and a process to define multiple hardware variants in a new, market-driven manner. Not bad.

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Making the arrows point the other way won’t be easy, conquering new markets never is. I, for one, am excited by the prospect. If we can all stay focused on this goal, maybe EDA can start growing again. I look forward to that reality.