EDA*, DFM*, and why they are so important

 Dan Hutcheson
  24th-Feb-2007
EDA*, DFM*, and why they are so important: Designers . . . you can love them, love to hate them, but you can’t leave them. Imagine the chip industry as an art gallery. Wafer fab may be the most expensive part of the process, but it’s only the canvas, paints, and brushes. Assembly is just the frame and test is security. It’s the designers who are the artists, the ones who take all these components and create value.
To understand why something like DFM (Design For Manufacturing) is so difficult, you have to understand the deep and wide cultural sea that lies between design and manufacturing. Design and manufacturing have collided and the culture clash could be enormous if were not for EDA (Electronic Design Automation). EDA is the glue that keeps design and manufacturing work flows aligned to customer needs.
Part of the problem, is that the number of designers in the world does not grow at the rate of Moore’s Law. They have to be born and educated. The miracle of EDA is that it allows them to design ever more transistors every year. Without productivity increases, our industry would be sunk! Yet, lack of DFM; failure to recognize its importance at upper management levels; and the resultant failure to implement it industry-wide; has had a far greater impact on designer productivity.
While it may not look this way in the graph, because it is linear, rather than log-linear, designer productivity fell from 40% per annum in the period between 1992 and 2000 to just 16% in the period between 2000 and 2006. Designer productivity did surge by 39% in 2004, but it pulled back to 29% in 2005 and 16% in 2006. The result is that the rate of reduction in the average design cost per transistor has slowed. Design Cost reductions in dollars per transistor averaged 19% per year between 1992 and 2000. This slowed to 5% between 2001 and 2006.
The good news here is that had designer productivity not improved and design cost per transistor had stayed at 1992 levels (and that there would have been enough designers), the additional design cost would have been enormous. In fact, the 10-year savings through 2006 amounts to $617B! An even more fun fact is that (assuming 1992 cost per transistor levels) 2005’s investments in EDA tools were paid back at 3:15 in morning . . . January 4th . . . 2006. So, the EDA revolution has been every bit as important to Moore’s Law as shrinking and it’s more critical than ever that we keep it on track.
*EDA: Electronic Design Automation *DFM: Design For Manufacturing
Conclusion: So, the EDA revolution has been every bit as important to Moore’s Law as shrinking and it’s more critical than ever that we keep it on track.
Views: 1973
Domain: Electronics
Category: Semiconductors

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