Massimo Sivilotti, Tanner Research(01/16/2006 9:00 AM EST)
A versatile EDA engineering design environment is comprised of that set of existing and emerging tools which meet a company's functionality demands and financial constraints. Assembling such a design environment is the process of optimizing the conflicting needs and constraints within the company, while also addressing adjacent concerns such as internationalization, communication, workflow, and security. At least that's the case in a perfect world.
Unfortunately, legacy issues more than optimizations often drive the selection of design tools — prior experience, tool familiarity, established design flows, and vendor name recognition. Also unfortunately, design tools have long been considered a stand-alone capital asset, independently purchased by engineering, and administered and maintained outside of the company's IT infrastructure. Classic IT metrics such as return on investment (ROI), total cost of ownership (TCO), and price/performance tradeoff have rarely been applied to the purchase and deployment of EDA CAD tools.
That situation is changing. Although engineering productivity still sits at the center of tool purchasing decisions, evaluating the true costs of a design environment now presents a more complex problem than simply looking at the price of the individual tools. IT-type metrics are becoming increasingly important in the analysis of CAD tools as companies move to quantify the costs and benefits of make-versus-buy, in-housing, off-shoring, outsourcing, and the purchasing of intellectual property (IP).
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