EDA Industry Maintains Healthy Growth

Article By : George Leopold

The EDA sector continues to expand as system-level efforts gain momentum...

American chip manufacturing may be in the midst of an existential crisis, but the U.S.-led EDA industry appears healthy and so far unscathed by the pandemic.Figures released in mid-July by the Electronic System Design Alliance Market Statistics Service reveal modest by steady EDA industry growth on a quarterly as well as moving-average basis. First quarter 2020 revenues rose year-on-year by 3.5 percent to nearly $2.69 billion. The four-quarter moving average for EDA revenues jumped 5.2 percent, the alliance reported.

Quarterly growth was driven by demand for semiconductor IP while the PCB and multi-chip module categories also reported double-digit quarterly gains. Meanwhile, the four-quarter moving average for those categories along with computer-aided engineering and IC design and verification moved upward across all regions, said Wally Rhines, CEO emeritus of Mentor (and, as of this week, CEO of Cornami).

Cornami CEO Wally Rhines
Wally Rhines (Image: Cornami)

Demand for chip designers also jumped during the first quarter of 2020, with the number of engineers employed increasing by 5.6 percent on an annual basis to 45,938. That total also represented a 1.1 percent increase over the fourth quarter of 2019, the industry group reported.

In terms of EDA revenue by region, Europe, Middle East and Africa jumped a healthy 13.4 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year. Japan, Asia-Pacific region and the Americas trailed, in that order. North American remains by far the largest market for EDA products and services, accounting for nearly $1.19 billion in the industry’s quarterly revenues.

As the U.S. and China lock horns over stricter export controls on American chip manufacturing equipment, the EDA sector appears to have a clearer path to sustained growth. Among the reasons is renewed government interest in leveraging system-level design as a way to bake security into chips destined for weapons or critical infrastructure.

For example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launched a secure chip design initiative dubbed Automatic Implementation of Secure Silicon. The AISS initiative would among other things help silicon architectures specify performance constraints while automating the design-in of defenses that would secure an entire device lifecycle, program officials said.

A team led by EDA vendor Synopsys is focusing on both system synthesis and design security. The team includes Arm and U.K.-based embedded analytics vendor UltraSoC, each of which is contributing semiconductor IP to the DARPA effort.

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