November 30, 2021

What Is EDA Software? Understanding EDA Tools and Semiconductor Design Software

IP Lifecycle Management

Semiconductor design depends on certain foundations to enable work. Teams need to take semiconductor chips through their full lifecycle – from planning and designing, to building and testing. Electronic design automation (EDA) software makes this process possible, while also reducing siloed work and costly code errors. 

This blog will define electronic design automation (EDA) software and discuss how it can help solve common semiconductor design challenges. From there, it will identify how Methodics IPLM can work alongside EDA software to ensure streamlined workflows, scalability, and IP security. 

What Is Electronic Design Automation (EDA) Software?

Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software refers to tools used to design electronic systems, such as semiconductors, integrated circuits, and printed circuit boards. EDA tools have three key functions: simulation, design, and verification. EDA software allows teams to predict circuit behavior, assemble circuit elements, and anticipate chip performance. 

The origins of electronic design automation first emerged in the 1960s, and since then EDA technology has grown, evolved, and become a standard part of semiconductor manufacturing. For example, you've probably heard of some of the most popular EDA products and companies, like Synopsys, Cadence, and Siemiens EDA. Here's a more detailed breakdown of the three core roles that have made EDA tools such a prevalent part of semiconductor design:

  • Simulation: These functions allow teams to see and examine how circuits would perform under real-world conditions and constraints. 
  • Design: The design abilities of electronic design automation allow teams to build interconnected circuits, combining different components and shapes to fulfill desired functions.
  • Verification: Electronic design automation empowers teams to test chip connection and performance as they build. 

Build on EDA Infrastructure With Secure IP Lifecycle Management 
EDA software isn't all you need. Methodics IPLM gives you complete control over the design and integration of both internal and external design elements. So you can securely manage hundreds of IPs with end-to-end traceability — from origin to the delivery of the final design.


Why Is EDA Software Important?

Semiconductor professionals know that developing chips is complex and expensive. It's crucial to know they'll function as intended, especially since most chip code can't be "patched." Instead, teams must respond to errors by revising completely. 

Electronic design automation is a response to these high stakes, and lets semiconductor teams test chips before they're manufactured. EDA software lets teams predict how chips will perform over time, letting semiconductor professionals measure chip reliability even before production. 

Challenges of EDA Infrastructure

The challenges for the semiconductor design teams who rely on EDA infrastructure are only growing as the industry grows.

As mentioned in our blog about the Future of Semiconductors, chip designs are getting larger and more complex. Managing the amount of data and complexity during the lifecycle of a project is becoming a greater challenge.

As the semiconductor industry consolidates, and design teams collaborate across multiple geographies, managing the design environment and collateral becomes a challenge. IP security assurance through geofencing becomes a must to prevent IP leakage.

In order to maintain margins and stay ahead of the competition, reuse of the enterprise’s IP asset has become key to accelerate time-to-market.

Additionally, traceability is becoming a key requirement as design data is spread across distributed teams, centers, and environments. We go into further detail in our blog Why Traceability Is Important.

Why to Pair EDA Software with IP Tools

IP management software, like Methodics IPLM, works alongside and enhances electronic design automation. While EDA infrastructure addresses common prototyping and testing challenges, IP management clarifies workflows, makes both sharing and protecting files easier, and helps large files and teams scale. For a typical workflow in semiconductor design to be successful, certain IP foundational elements must be present:

  • Today’s designs are component-based. These components need a release methodology and lifecycle management as the project moves through the various levels of maturity.
  • Reuse of the enterprise IP assets is key to maintaining margins in today’s commoditized semiconductor business.
  • Implementation tools create and modify design files, which must be versioned and configured, and delivered to user workspaces.
  • Projects need requirements and resource planning to qualify and plan market opportunities.
  • Increasingly, designs are required to comply to standards and committed levels of quality. 

How Perforce Solutions Support EDA Tools

The best way to solve these challenges is with a comprehensive solution like Perforce's industry-leading EDA infrastructure tools. This allows organizations to build a foundation that supports designers today and is scalable to support future needs.

9 of the top 10 semiconductor companies depend on Perforce for EDA infrastructure. That’s because:

  • Perforce has a long-standing pedigree of large-scale asset management in other industries.
  • Perforce is the de facto standard asset management platform for the gaming and digital animation space, with massive databases under management, both in terms of file count and size.
  • Perforce Methodics IPLM created the IP Lifecycle Management (IPLM) space, providing lifecycle management focused on design-side components and planning, prior to manufacturing.
  • Perforce has the best-in-class collaboration system for large distributed teams.
  • Perforce Federated Architecture is an advanced replication system that enables a secure multi-site configuration management system.

    Perforce Products to Use with EDA Infrastructure

Perforce enables world-class development at enterprise scale with a suite of products to support your needs, including:

Want to learn more? Get in touch with one of our semiconductor design experts today to discuss how Perforce can work with your EDA software and help you solve EDA challenges.

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