Slowly but surely, the doors are opening. By that I mean that foundries and some IDMs are finally releasing significant amounts of fab process data for incorporation within the design for manufacturing content of EDA tools.
Kudos must go to the IBM, Samsung and Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing triumvirate for being first out of the gate. At the time of writing, they have struck deals covering a raft of software from five companies: the ‘big three’ of Cadence Design Systems, Mentor Graphics and Synopsys as well as Clear Shape Technologies and Ponte Solutions. More, the trio says, will follow aimed at the companies’ shared 65nm process.
After all the debate over how to release sensitive fab information in such a way that it could not be naughtily reverse engineered by rival chip manufacturers or others, IBM-Samsung-Chartered obviously has found a format the partnership is comfortable with. There must, therefore, be a reasonable expectation that others will follow suit – indeed the likelihood of further announcements during DAC is high.
And let’s not forget the role of marketing here. As long as IBM, Chartered and Samsung stand alone in disclosure, they will appear to many to offer the least painful foundry path to 65nm.
An interesting reflection of this emerged at DATE, talking to some designers
outside the power user tier that leads on the bleeding edge of process technology. Fatter, cleverer tools is encouraging these other players to consider moving through process nodes because they are beginning to believe that nanometer level NREs can ultimately be brought under control.
OK, these companies may not have the transition in mind for tomorrow, maybe not even next year. However, such comments do give the lie to the concern that there is a 130nm hurdle which only the richest and most powerful can scale. So, more of the same, please.
With this issue, EDA Tech Forum enters its third year of publication, and I would like to thank all of our past and present contributors for their support as well as our US subscribers and our growing readership in Europe and Asia.
Those of you attending DAC are invited to pass your comments to me in person, pitch your own articles and help us celebrate our birthday at an informal cocktail hour from 3pm every afternoon at our booth, Monday thru Wednesday (July 24-26). We will be running prize draws for iPods and Xbox 360 consoles and you will find us throughout the show at Booth #1419. I hope to meet many of you in San Francisco.