SAN MATEO, Calif. Chip and board designers expressed contrasting preferences and concerns in a new EDA branding survey conducted by EE Times, which found that chip designers generally view Synopsys Inc. as the easiest vendor to work with, while board designers lean towards Cadence Design Systems Inc.
The survey also highlights designers' concerns and priorities with respect to design flow bottlenecks, tool usage and operating system selection.
The survey gathered responses from 506 chip designers and 213 board designers who subscribe to EE Times or Integrated System Design magazine. Detailed results are being made privately available to EDA vendors.
The contrast between chip and board design environments was apparent in many of the survey responses. For example, chip designers said that verification takes 32 percent of the total design cycle, while detailed design tools take 28 percent. Board designers, however, said that detailed design takes 30 percent of their design cycles, and verification 17 percent.
Chip designers said that system specification takes 12 percent of the total design cycle, conceptual design takes 12 percent, prototyping 9 percent, and "sending to production" 7 percent. For board designers, these figures were 15 percent, 14 percent, 15 percent, and 9 percent, respectively.
Chip designers said that their biggest bottleneck, by far, is simulation and design verification. Board designers identified placement and routing as their biggest bottleneck. But both groups said that "accuracy and integrity of design tools" is their biggest concern with respect to getting complex designs out the door.
The "most used" type of tool in chip design performs static timing analysis, followed by those that handle HDL simulation and logic synthesis. For board designers, the most used tool is for schematic capture, followed by pc-board layout and Spice simulation. Only 31 perce nt of board designers said they now use signal integrity tools, but 59 percent expect to do so within the next two years.
Operating systems provide another point of contrast between the two groups. Sixty-seven percent of chip designers use Solaris, while 30 percent use Windows 2000 and 22 percent use Windows NT. In contrast, board designers overwhelmingly favor Windows 2000 and Windows NT. But both designer groups said they expect a big increase in Linux usage over the next two years from 31 percent to 64 percent for chip designers, and from 6 percent to 28 percent for board designers.
Chip designers today said they're mostly designing at 0.18 microns, but 48 percent said they're already working on 0.13-micron designs. In two years, 65 percent expect to be using 0.18-micron processes, and 60 percent expect to be using 0.10-micron or finer processes.
Chip designers said their most important criteria for selecting an EDA vendor are its after-sales support, the integration of its tools with t hose of other vendors, and the status of the market's current "technology leader." Synopsys came out on top in all these categories and many others, including "clear vision for the future," best documentation, most ethical company, best training, well-managed company, and knowledgeable sales reps.
In most of these categories, Cadence ranked second and Mentor Graphics Corp. was ranked third. Avanti Corp. didn't do as well, but took third place in the "technology leader" category.
Cadence grabbed the top slot with respect to vendor familiarity, product familiarity, and product usage. And Novas Software Inc. came out on top in customer satisfaction and referral potential.
Board designers said they were most concerned about after-sales support, documentation and tool integration. Cadence ranked highest in all these categories, and in those for clear vision of the future, most ethical company, technology leader today, knowledgeable sales reps, and others. Mentor Graphics to ok second place in most categories.
Cadence also won board designers' rankings for vendor and product familiarity, product usage, repurchase and referral potential, and customer satisfaction. Mentor, Altium and Innoveda also ranked well in these categories.