Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top semiconductor and EDA trends to watch out for in 2010!

This is a continuation from my previous blog post, where I was in conversation with Jaswinder Ahuja, corporate vice president and managing director, Cadence Design Systems (I) Pvt. Ltd. I also took this opportunity to quiz him on the top semiconductor and EDA trends for 2010.

Semiconductor and EDA industry trends forecast for 2010
According to Jaswinder Ahuja, as we look ahead to 2010 and beyond, the challenges are great for the semiconductor and EDA industries – but so are the opportunities.

He said: “We must learn to thrive in an increasingly globalized world and in a collaborative yet competitive ecosystem. EDA providers and semiconductor companies must collaborate to reduce the escalating cost of high-quality design and remove productivity bottlenecks, and work together to bring the semiconductor industry out of the doldrums.

“In terms of the worldwide semiconductor industry, collaboration will continue to accelerate. The Common Platform, which brought together competitors including IBM, Chartered, and Samsung to share the costs of next-generation process technology, is one example.”

Deep, pro-active collaborations between EDA vendors and semiconductor providers have become crucial. Cadence in 2009 announced collaborations on advanced process node design with ARM, TSMC, SMIC, Global Foundries, UMC, IBM, Common Platform, and other partners.

Ahuja added: “In terms of EDA, providers must not only help customers reduce design and verification costs and solve technology problems, but must also help them differentiate themselves from competitors, and collaborate with partners on a worldwide basis. To do this, the EDA industry must focus on the integrated solutions and close partnerships, rather than simply selling point tools.

“Time-to-market pressures and design complexity are critical challenges that design teams face today. Design teams want to “get it right” the first time, and improve the predictability of design process. EDA will have to sharpen the focus on making the verification process cost effective and focus not only on design but on IP integration so that design predictability can be ensured for customers at optimum costs. Design for manufacturing (DFM) technologies including extremely accurate modeling solutions for both mask-making and manufacturing to avoid expensive silicon re-spins will be another focus area.”

End consumers are driving our customers to incorporate more functionality into the products. This demand for new functionality is driving both the importance and complexity increase in mixed signal and RF (radio frequency) design.

“As our customers face significant cost pressure, outsourcing certain elements of a production-grade design environment can address certain customer needs for reduced cost and risk. The need for business optimization gave a fillip to models like Software as a Service for electronic design, whose flexible engagement models to access state-of-the art design environments helped design teams reduce risk and cost while increasing productivity, in 2009. This will continue to gain traction in 2010.

“As designs migrate to sub-90nm process nodes, power management will be an imperative across the entire design and manufacturing chain,” noted Ahuja.

Strengths and weaknesses of Indian semiconductor industry
In terms of strengths, India’s talent base is a clear advantage. The availability and scalability of talent has attracted IDCs (India development centers) here for many years now.

Second, India has a wealth of technical expertise and proven delivery record of designs from spec to GDSII by design services companies and by IDCs, and in the embedded software area as well.

Third, the Indian semiconductor ecosystem is maturing and the IP regime in India is considered just and favorable for business.

In terms of weaknesses, we are yet to develop full product definition and system design capability from India. This is a challenge for the Indian semiconductor industry. Second, we are yet to develop a competitive manufacturing capability and capacity, although we have taken some steps in this area through ATMPs and solar fabs.

Yes indeed! The Indian semicon industry has many, many miles to go and several promises to keep!

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