Why are EDA tools so important to the IC industry?
If the chip is likened to a beautifully designed handicraft, then the Electronic design automation (EDA) tool is the knife for carving this handicraft, so its importance to the integrated circuit industry is self-evident. In the process of development, domestic EDA enterprises should fully establish the concept of “strategic redundancy”. While striving to make up for their own shortcomings, they should also achieve “uniqueness” in a certain segment of the semiconductor industry chain. become an indispensable and important part of the global industrial chain.
Due to the lack of attention in the early stage, the development of the domestic EDA industry is relatively backward. At this stage, the difficulty of breaking through advanced materials and devices in electronic engineering continues to increase, but computer science, especially the development of artificial intelligence and cloud technology in recent years, has brought new opportunities to the reform of my country’s EDA industry.
EDA technology is monopolized by foreign companies
The design of the chip is inseparable from the blessing of EDA tools. Although the growth rate of transistor counts for some products has slowed in recent years, Moore’s Law remains the guiding principle widely followed in the industry. It is reported that the number of transistors in the A14 processor on the Apple iPhone 12 will reach 12.5 billion. Designing a chip with such a large number of transistors is clearly an impossible task without the help of highly automated EDA tools.
With the increasing complexity of integrated circuit design, chip verification is undoubtedly one of the most critical links to determine the success of chip tapeout, and EDA tools are an indispensable and important helper in the verification link.
Wang Libin, chairman and CEO of Xinhuazhang, said in an interview with reporters that in the process of chip research and development, the verification of the chip runs through the entire design process, so the more complete the verification process of its chip, the higher the success rate of chip tape-out. The EDA tool can play a role in the finalization of the process. “As the scale of chip designs increases, EDA verification is a critical tool to determine the success or failure of chips,” said Libin Wang.
As one of the core industries of the semiconductor industry, the EDA industry has always been monopolized by foreign giants. In an interview with a reporter from China Electronics News, Han Ming, director of BD, said that in the field of EDA, the three companies, Synopsys, Cadence and Mentor Graphics, are known as the “EDA Big Three”. It is reported that these three companies occupy more than 65% of the global market share, and their market share in China is even as high as 90%.
The development of domestic EDA industry has been lagging behind foreign countries. Liu Weiping, chairman of Beijing Huada Jiutian Software Co., Ltd. and chairman and general manager of Nanjing Integrated Circuit Design Service Industry Innovation Center, told reporters in an exclusive interview that the overall start of my country’s semiconductor industry is relatively late, so my country’s layout in EDA is also relatively Lag, failed to form a good coordinated development model. This has led to major problems in the development of the domestic EDA industry, especially in the absence of core technologies.
The lack of talents is also a major problem facing the domestic EDA industry. Han Ming said that talent is one of the main driving forces for the sustainable development of the EDA industry. However, there are few EDA talents in China, which leads to the fact that the number of employees in domestic EDA companies is less than 1,000. The lack of talents makes the development of my country’s EDA industry relatively backward. In contrast, the leading foreign EDA companies all use the advantages of multinational companies to recruit outstanding talents on a global scale through endogenous development and acquisition and integration.
Cloud technology will be an important promoter of EDA
The lack of core technology makes the domestic EDA industry lack core patents, which makes my country in a disadvantageous position in the global EDA intellectual property competition. Since my country needs to pay multiple sets of EDA tool patent fees, the high cost directly drags down the design cycle of local chips and greatly weakens their competitiveness in the market. In addition, the weakness of its own technical foundation also makes my country unable to do anything in the research and development of high-precision chips. Faced with such a predicament, where is the development path of my country’s EDA industry?
The rapid development of the integrated circuit industry can play a driving role in the growth of the domestic EDA industry market demand, thereby promoting the development of the industry. Wang Libin introduced that due to the impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the global semiconductor market in the first half of 2020 was not in a good situation, and only China’s semiconductor market showed an upward trend. This thriving situation shows the huge development potential of the domestic semiconductor market. He also pointed out that in 2020, the sales revenue of China’s integrated circuit industry is expected to exceed 900 billion yuan. By 2025, the self-sufficiency rate of domestic chips will reach 70%. Based on the close connection between the integrated circuit industry and the EDA industry, Wang Libin believes that in the next 5 to 6 years, the market capacity of my country’s EDA industry will increase by about 5 times, so the domestic EDA industry has broad market prospects and great development potential.
The development of artificial intelligence technology provides new development opportunities for my country’s EDA industry. According to a report released by ABI Research, by 2024, the global market for cloud AI chips will expand to US$10 billion. At the same time, the market size of the global edge AI chip will continue to expand at an average annual growth rate of 31%.
The development of AI technology has created a strong demand for AI chips in the terminal market, and AI chips have very strict requirements on the miniaturization of packaging. Advanced EDA tools are an important solution to meet this need. Specifically, in order to integrate more and more transistors on a smaller and smaller unit area, EDA tools need to keep pace with the times and adapt to the development trend of AI technology through the improvement and enhancement of their performance. Therefore, the popularity of AI chips in the market may make more manufacturers realize the importance of EDA tools, thereby increasing their investment and research and development.
In the process of EDA tools adapting to the development trend of AI technology, cloud technology is also a key force that cannot be ignored. Wang Libin said that chip design companies not only need EDA products, but also EDA services, so the “cloud” of EDA services is an important development trend in the future. He said that many companies are buying EDA services at the same time they buy EDA products. If there is no EDA service, it will be difficult for them to use EDA products well, and they will not be able to design chips well. The cloud verification service is a verification service based on cloud technology. The huge computing power of the cloud can effectively solve the problem of time-consuming simulation. When customers are designing complex system-on-chips, it can improve the verification efficiency of the chip and reduce its verification cost, and help them use EDA products more flexibly while meeting the diverse needs of customers.
In general, cloud service providers have become the mainstay in promoting the intelligentization process in terms of hardware deployment, software innovation, and software and hardware collaboration. Therefore, cloud technology will undoubtedly become an important driver to promote the development of the EDA industry.
Next-generation EDA technology becomes the key to breakthrough
The current complex international situation is not conducive to the development of China’s semiconductor industry. In this environment of constraints everywhere, the importance of the EDA industry will be further highlighted. Researching and developing EDA tools is by no means a day’s work. In order to seize the new opportunities brought by new technologies, enterprises in the industry need to take more active and proactive measures for the development of the industry, and work together to develop the domestic EDA industry.
my country’s semiconductor companies need to jointly participate in the ecological construction of the EDA industry, so as to build a good industrial ecological environment. Liu Weiping pointed out that the EDA industry is an important bridge of cooperation between chip design, manufacturing, packaging and testing companies. Therefore, the ecological construction of the EDA industry requires the joint construction of various companies in the entire semiconductor industry chain, and this is also the future of my country’s EDA industry. The essential.
At this stage, leading domestic EDA companies such as Huada Jiutian, Xinhuazhang, and Quanxinzhizhi continue to increase their research and development efforts, and have carried out in-depth cooperation with many semiconductor companies at home and abroad, forming unique advantages with industry competitiveness in some fields , the ecological effect gradually appeared. “In the future, with the gradual improvement of the domestic semiconductor industry chain, BGI Jiutian and other EDA manufacturers will further promote strategic cooperation in the domestic EDA field, so as to speed up the process of industrial ecological construction and help the construction of my country’s EDA industrial ecology.” Liu Weiping said.
Domestic EDA enterprises should also establish the concept of “strategic redundancy”. What is “strategic redundancy”? Han Ming explained this: “‘Redundancy’ is a special term in the semiconductor field. It refers to adding redundant circuits to the circuit to ensure that the entire chip is not affected by partial failure circuits, so as to achieve the normal operation of the chip. Work and ensure its yield.” Han Ming said that while considering commercial and market value, domestic EDA companies must also establish the concept of “strategic redundancy”, starting from the subdivisions in the industrial chain, and strive to make up for themselves short board.
my country’s EDA industry should also lead the world in some segments of the industrial chain. Han Ming pointed out that my country’s EDA industry can become an inseparable part of the global industrial chain only if it is perfected in certain sub-fields.
Domestic EDA enterprises also need to innovate and change, and actively participate in the layout of the next generation of EDA technology. Wang Libin said that the industry should not only achieve breakthroughs and innovations in EDA technology, but also work together to develop advanced processes, and achieve updates and iterations in the R&D process of advanced processes. In addition, domestic EDA enterprises should increase the training of EDA innovative talents. “The development of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing, as well as the iteration of advanced process R&D processes, have provided opportunities for the deployment of the next generation of EDA technology. At this time, the industry needs the emergence of EDA leading talents. Their commitment to the development of EDA technology The research and development of the latest trends and advanced processes has a keen insight, so it can help my country’s EDA industry to get out of the predicament and achieve leapfrog development.” Wang Libin said.