The 3 Faces of Semiconductor

By Rick

In her blog entry,  “Synopsys Likely to Roll up the EDA Sector” , Sramana Mitra does a great job in summarizing the current state of the EDA industry. She does a particularly nice job of reviewing the moves that Synopsys has made in taking the leadership position in the industry and how its competition have been developing their own strategies on where their companies (and the industry) should evolve. I had some thoughts that I wanted to share that bring a bit of a different perspective.


It’s interesting to think about where the EDA space is headed and how the rules of natural selection have gotten us to where we are today.  Sramana Mitra does a nice job in summarizing the current state for the EDA leaders. Others can better talk about technology or about how the startup companies made money for a lot of people in the past.

But I think that EDA needs to see that the semiconductor industry today really has three personalities:three-faces

  1. A technology industry driven by innovation and creating the “next cool thing” that will drive the latest products in many different industries. IC products provide the intelligence within the latest innovations across multiple markets; automotive/transportation, A&D, medical devices, consumer products and, of course, high-tech computers, communications and entertainment products.
  2. A manufacturing industry. It’s one of the world’s largest manufacturing segments and puts the latest technologies in the hands of consumers at commodity pricing.
  3. An emerging growth industry. Although it’s been around for generations, the IC domain is very dynamic. Both technology and manufacturing changes allow the market to reinvent itself and bring innovation to different end-user markets. As opposed to industries where there is a finite number of applications for their products, semiconductor companies continually opens doors in new markets.

EDA has been focused primarily on the first two of the semiconductor market personalities—addressing the technology needs of the design teams and the ability to help manufacturing continue to produce products at a nearly impossible scale with cost structures that make those products accessible.

But what did we see when the tough times rolled around?

The manufacturing “factory” personality became dominant. The technology teams were reduced to focus on core products and mandates were delivered to make those products more flexible so that they could have longer lifespans. On the manufacturing side, troubles brought a focus on the supply chain and bottom line, resulting in the common factory response of cut, reduce, eliminate.

What is required is someone that thinks of the market more holistically.

Leaders in this market have to not only be aware of the bottom line, but also be focused on creating new opportunities to grow the top line.  At some point, you can’t cut anymore—but you can always grow if you have the right vision. Companies that “emerge with advantage” from the downturn are those that are working closely with customers in new markets to grow their position, not just cut costs. Synopsys is a perfect example of a company that has a vision to grow its position through working closely with customers, being more critical in the design chain and increasing its offers to be ready for whatever need customers will have. I’ve seen the same with IC companies. While many have spent the past couple of years looking to cut costs, some were working on how to best work with their customers, enable sales and marketing to streamline new opportunities and better bring products to market. Those are the companies that you’ll be hearing good things about in the coming year.

I think this evolution will continue beyond what we know as EDA today and into a more encompassing product design and experience offering. In time, you will see the blending of EDA’s target semiconductor market both down deeper into manufacturing and up into the end market application.

When you design the “brain” (chip), you will also have to design the “body” (application product).

If semiconductors are replacing the steel and wires within transportation systems, doesn’t it make sense that the design of the products also change? Much of that change will start with how to work more closely with the customer, how to capture ideas, how to share the huge amount of information available and how to eliminate the proverbial walls over which each functional discipline has to “throw” their contributions.

EDA companies are already starting down that path today with common database formats (OpenAccess), product portfolios that encompass orders of magnitudes of more diverse offers in multi-domain design, behavioral modeling, embedded software content, simulation, predictive analysis, test, manufacturing preparation and packaging—and with consortia that brings together both design chain and supply chain partners.

EDA is still evolving. They have fire and the wheel. Imagine all that will come next.



PLM in the Kitchen

By Francois Bouffard

Francois Bouffard_PLM in the Kitchen

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a team building activity at DS Campus in Vélizy, France.  Participants were grouped into small teams to cook desserts for the rest of the group. This was an interesting proposition as most of us knew how to cook (eggs and toast!!!) but not French cuisine sweeties.

tuile chocolatAfter dressing up like a real chef with the apron and hat, we received instructions from the pastry chef, mainly explaining the order of mixing the ingredients to make ‘’Tuiles’’ (tiles). Being francophone but from the other side of the ocean, I had no clue of what the end result was supposed to look  like!

The mixing part went very well as my partner melted the butter perfectly. However when the time came to spread the mixture on the baking sheet, we did it with too much thickness. The pastry chef got upset because we put on too much batter, saying the result would not be great.

preparation on cooking plate-1He was right.  After being cooked, the  ‘’Tuiles’’ were all mixed up into one big tile. We had to rework and correct the result by hand cutting the right portion to finally giving the acceptable shape. Overall they tasted good but the shapes were original and probably could have been  called New Cuisine!!!

After this nice team building exercise, I thought that this experience could  have been an excellent opportunity to use some of Dassault Systèmes’ PLM  solutions to get better results.

In fact, if the pastry chef would have showed us the virtual representation of the ‘’Tuiles’’ before we started,  using 3DVIA per example, then we would have a better idea of  the expected end result. (See What You Mean!). In addition, we could have used ENOVIA to manage the ingredients, tools and equipment to be used and thus creating a little BOM.  Work instructions, which were sometimes difficult to understand, could have been showed using 3DVIA Composer, and finally DELMIA  for simulating the work process in its entirety.

You may think that I am exaggerating by pushing the use of PLM in a kitchen. Maybe . . . but this is a simple example that demonstrates that if we could use it there, then we could and we should use it  everywhere.

Francois headshotBon appétit!


Francois Bouffard works for Dassault Systèmes North America and specializes in the Consumer Goods, Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail industries.

You Are Oblong

By Kate
Photo by Barry Goyette

Photo by Barry Goyette

I’m in love . . . with the future of GUI.  This future that dismisses carpal tunnel syndrome and gets the whole body involved in digital data. 

I see it as liberation.  How tired are we all from hour after hour of desk + computer screen + mouse?  Life is best experienced, not watched on a screen and awkwardly shifted through with a cursor. 

Thanks to Benoit (remember Mr. Flashy and Capture the Motion Commotion?), today I came across Oblong’s g-speak spatial operating environment video.  Turn up your volume and listen well to fully get into the emotion of this video.  Does it make you fall in love as well?

YouTube Preview Image

Notice the sign language used to interact with the data.  It looks a bit like a free-style modern dance performance.  I love it because it links our most powerful communication system, body language, to the power of computers.  And as Richard pointed out in his blogpost Say It in 3D!, body language is our natural 3D language. 

I went nuts when I read Oblong’s origins webpage.  They really go full out to communicate differently.  They are profound, yet understandable.  Here’s a tiny sample of excerpts from the orgins link that struck me:

Substantial swaths of human brain are dedicated to understanding space, understanding geometry, understanding physical structure. A cartoon of a messy desk surface doesn’t much tax these swaths. The swaths can work harder, ought to be made to. You propose that information — and maybe especially the newly-blooming internet — has a topology but not yet a topography.

 . . . and  . . .

This does not mean that the graphics should look more like the real world. Your brain does not actually care about that. It means that perhaps the graphics should behave more like the real world.

If you’re into this kind of stuff, or even if you don’t think you are but liked The Minority Report, you’ll really dig reading about Luminous Rooms and the I/O Bulb. 

What I like best is that Oblong doesn’t present itself as About Us.  Oblong on its deepest level is About You.  YOU are the interface.  You Are Oblong. 

Hoot if you like this too!



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