Change to 28-nm and 20-nm picking up pace: Mentor's Rhines

by K C Krishnadas, TechOnline India - December 13, 2011

There is change happening in the chip design process, he says


Mentor Graphics' chairman and CEO, Walden Rhines is of the view that there is big time change happening in chip design. In his view the significant change that is taking place is in the accelerated adoption of 28-nm and 20-nm technology.

“There is going to be a change that is going to force companies to re-design existing products in 28-nm and 20-nm, in addition to designing new products.

This means that you need to be prepared to do a lot more design but without a lot more of resources.  Currently, about 95 per cent foundry capacity utilization is in 32- and 28-nm but this will fall. Also, 28-nm foundry capacity is sold out. Foundries will ramp to record high market share of 28- and 20-nm market capacity,” he said during a visit here.

Foundry capacity at present is at an all-time high as a percentage of total capital expenditure.  By the end of next year, 28- and 20-nm semiconductor technology will become a major “work horse” compared to previous technology generations. Plenty of wafers will be available from silicon foundries. Yields will be high and costs will be low, he said.

There will also be accelerated design activity starting late next year to take advantage of the 28-nm capability and capacity. Favorable costs and yields will cause semiconductor companies to redesign 180/130/90/65/45-nm products into 28/20-nm versions while adding functionality. Totally new applications will emerge because of the 28/20nm capability and cost, thus growing the semiconductor market in 2014 and beyond,” he predicted.

Once 28-nm becomes “work horse” technology, there will be high yields, low costs, accelerated design activity and redesigns to take advantage of smaller node cost efficiencies and new designs that leverage the additional transistors, he added.

On Magma's acquisition

On the Synopsys decision to acquire Magma Design Automation, he believes that this nothing really changes in the electronic design automation industry with this move.

Magma was a candidate for being acquired all along, for it was largely into  place and route. “Magma would have been acquired sooner or later, anyway. It was no secret,”  he said.

“I do not believe that it (the acquisition) will change anything, though an EDA company with a $100 million or thereabouts in annual revenues does make it a big company in this business,” he said.

“It is disappointing that an EDA company (of Magma’s size) goes for this kind of valuation.  At $ 507 million, the valuation (of Magma) is disappointing, but then high-technology (stocks) and all the EDA companies are now selling at remarkably low multiples.

When a start-up in EDA successful, it usually gets acquired by one of the big three EDA companies. This has been true for the last three decades,” he said.


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