Trends and innovations can help a market evolve, but there are times when multiple forces come together and trigger a perfect storm of change. This is exactly what is happening in the semiconductor industry as we enter the second decade of the 21st century- over half a billion people will enter the middle class in developing countries between 2010 and 2015, creating the bulk of the new demand for electronic products. To address this new demand, the leading electronics manufacturers are targeting big changes in the semiconductor content to make the cost of platforms dramatically lower.
To dramatically reduce the semiconductor platform costs, the race is on to master delivering mixed-signal integrated circuits in deep nanometer technologies from 65nm to 20nm and below. While this shift requires an evolution of digital design technology, it requires a revolution in analog/RF and mixed-signal design technology. Berkeley Design Automation(BDA) is leading this revolution in analog/RF and mixed-signal design technology.
While the complexity of analog and RF circuits have grown by orders of magnitude in the past decades, analog and RF chip design tools have shown little improvement. The move to deep nanometer for analog and RF circuits creates a growing gap between the capability of existing toolsets and the new requirements to implement mixed-signal designs in deep nanometer technologies.
Driven by the requirements of wireless connectivity (RF), fast processing speed (clocking), low power requirements, and interfaces (sensors), mixed-signal design teams facing tremendous challenges in analog/RF design and verification to live in a world of lower supply voltages, greater interference, and multiple new physical effects affecting the electrical performance of these circuits. As a result, it is well known in the industry that design margins are yields for mixed-signal are under tremendous pressure. To address these problems, fundamentally new verification and implementation engines based on the physics of nanometer devices are needed.
Building on a combination of leading mathematicians, semiconductors physicists, software architects, and mixed-signal circuit designers, BDA developed breakthrough technology based on original work performed at the University of California at Berkeley.
After some early first big wins, and an adoption model that made it easy to incorporate BDA’s products into customers’ existing environments, the company then rapidly grew to eat into the multi-year subscription licenses of the large incumbents in EDA.
In 2008, following the Great Recession, it became clear that there was a tectonic shift in where future demand for electronics would come from. Semiconductor companies then made dramatic changes to aggressively retool to prepare the platform battles expected to emerge in the next semiconductor cycle recovery following the Great Recession. Companies began rapidly adopting the AFS Platform once they crossed the 90nm barrier and then dramatically increased deployment once they crossed the 65nm nodes. Today, BDA stands as the clear leader- endorsed by the world’s largest foundries as a leading mixed-signal solution – and adopted by over 110 customers worldwide, including 16 of the top 20 semiconductor companies of the world and all the leading fabless semiconductors of the world
With the first successes in the analog verification area, BDA is now well poised to attack the next frontier in mixed-signal: implementation. The company’s strategy to attack that segment of the EDA market is to first deliver compelling characterization and optimization technology with the same tight links to the existing flows to enable rapid adoption. That is the journey for the next half of this decade. Finally, the company intends to use the position as a leader in verification, characterization, and optimization to drive into the implementation market. With this strategy, BDA is well poised to achieve its objective to be the leader in design technology solutions and services for nanometer mixed-signal semiconductors. In the process, it is rewriting the history of analog EDA.