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A Point to Ponder from Gary Smith’s DAC Presentation

Gabe Moretti, Senior Editor

The integration of electrical and mechanical tools is one of the subjects that Gary Smith covered in his presentation at this year’s DAC.  It is clear that we are finally reaching an understanding among EDA analysts that a system is more than just its electronic and electrical portions.  Gary suggested that an ideal integration of electronic and mechanical tools could be achieved through  acquisitions.

To Gary, who was a fervent supporter of EDA, the ideal situation would be for EDA companies to acquire companies that offer mechanical and structural development tools.  And clearly this is an option.  But integrating mechanical design automation tools with electrical and electronic DA tools through corporate collaboration is also a possible solution.  By integration I do not mean building one tool that supports both electronic and mechanical design.  I mean creating a family of products that share data and are supported by one organization.  The centralized support is critical to avoid misunderstanding of problems that can arise from improper integration of tools.  I know at least three companies that already offer some levels of such integration: Ansys, Mathworks, and Mentor.

Ansys is an example of a company that started supporting system design with tools dealing with mechanical and physical problems and then that acquired companies dealing with electrical and electronic problems.  Today it offers integrated support to system designers and developers that span the entire product development sequence in various markets.

Mathworks is an example of a company that started out developing tools that spanned both physical and electronics development and worked with leading EDA tools providers to integrate its Simulink tool with additional EDA capabilities to create solutions without the need to acquire companies or develop tools itself.

In the automotive market Mentor has integrated its tools with third party tools to provide a multi-discipline development environment.  Its SystemVision multi-discipline development environment provides an integrated simulation opportunity to analyze both electronic and mechanical issues.

Clearly Gary’s proposed solution has additional benefits to the EDA industry.  For one it increases the revenue of the sector and it also decreases the dependence on solely electronics and semiconductors demand for its revenue.  At a time when the IoT sector is talked about as the major contributor to increased revenue, calmer voices are pointing out that most of the foreseen products are consumer products that do not require advanced technology.  But they require increased security and improved integration of electro/mechanical and software constituent parts.  The opportunity, then, is not to focus solely on improving support for leading edge process technologies, but to provide fail safe integration of hardware/software/mechanical portions of the products at a reasonable price point.  At this is something that will require a change in the growth plans for the EDA industry.

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