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GarySmith EDA without Gary

Gabe Moretti, Senior Editor

This was the first DAC without Gary in many years.  His usual welcome presentation was delivered by Laurie Balch a long time collaborator of Gary’s.  Many of those in the audience left thinking that the presentation was negative as far as the EDA industry was concerned.  I disagree.  What was missing was Gary’s enthusiasm for the industry and his belief that we can overcome. Come what may.

Laurie delivered a fact based view of the industry.  It is true that the industry has yet to grow away from its preoccupation about “big silicon” as the number of companies that will require state of the art process technology is shrinking every year.  Costs are just growing to the point that a company needs a very large production run to amortize the investment.

What I found remarkable is that people in the audience were disappointed by the type of growth presented.  According to Laurie the industry grew by 4.7% last year, will grow by 5.1% this year and show significant positive growth to reach $11,232 million in revenue by 2020.

It is also true that the industry needs to widen its market or become stagnant.  Truth is difficult to digest, and people prefer sugar coated analysis.  Laurie indicated a couple of directions the industry can take to widen its market, but all require work and creativity.  An industry whose existence is based on creativity seems to have grown lazy.  I do not believe this is the fact.  I believe that we have difficult decisions in front of us, and choosing the best one is challenging.

Certainly we can make software a part of EDA.  After all software, firmware in fact, is used to tailor a piece of hardware into a special purpose hardware device.  The software development tools are different, they have different price points and must be marketed and sold differently than hardware development tools, but so what.  We market and sell PCB tools differently than IC tools today.

To be recognized by the financial markets we must expand our available market size.  This is obvious.  So Laurie is correct: the EDA industry must become something more than what it is: intrinsic growth means only survival.  We need creativity, something we have always had so far.  Let’s let go of what is comfortable and explore new markets: we know how to do it if we stop being afraid.

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