The aerospace and defense industries are at the forefront of innovation, pushing the boundaries of technology to ensure safety, security, and performance. Behind the scenes, Electronic Design Automation (EDA) plays a crucial role in shaping the future of aerospace and defense systems. This article explores how EDA is empowering these industries, enabling faster, more efficient, and reliable design processes.
In today’s world, engineering plays a part in almost everything that surrounds us, and with innovations continuously being brought to market, engineering is experiencing a steady growth extending to all of its wide-ranging facets. Further, the increasing demand for advanced electronic devices with complex designs, and the need to reduce the size while improving the performance of ICs, compels IC manufacturers to increase their R&D investments and adopt EDA tools.
The electronics industry is fast approaching a new era of digital transformation. In this new paradigm, digital technologies create new business processes, cultures, and customer experiences by bringing together all the aspects of product design, including mechanical and electrical, and streamlining the entire design process from product inception all the way through to manufacturing.
Electronic products must meet strict guidelines for their intended operating environments as well as for manufacturability, and in a number of industries products have to meet a set of complicated regulatory standards. To overcome these complexities, a next-generation design platform must support integration, shared data and improved intelligence. Integration across design processes and disciplines optimizes resources to reduce development time and cost.
Modern Semiconductor chips are incredibly complex. State-of-the-art devices can contain over one billion circuit elements. All of these elements can interact with each other in subtle ways, and variation in the manufacturing process can introduce more subtle interactions and changes in behavior. There is simply no way to manage this level of complexity without sophisticated automation, and EDA provides this critical technology. Without it, it would be impossible to design and manufacture today’s semiconductor devices.
Electronic design automation (EDA)
Electronic design automation (EDA), also known as electronic computer-aided design (ECAD), is a set of software tools used for designing electronic systems, such as integrated circuits and printed circuit boards. EDA tools have greatly replaced manual methods in circuit board and semiconductor design, offering a more efficient and streamlined approach.
In the early days, technicians used manual techniques, such as photoplotters, to create circuit board drawings. However, as designs became more complex, automation was necessary. EDA tools emerged to assist with various aspects of the design process, including drafting, place and route, and functional verification.
One of the key benefits of EDA tools is their ability to improve the construction of electronic components by eliminating bugs and defects. Through universal design techniques, these tools help ensure that chips and circuit boards are error-free and meet the required specifications. This is crucial because errors in manufactured chips can be catastrophic, often necessitating a complete redesign and re-manufacturing, resulting in significant time and cost implications.
EDA tools also significantly reduce development time and cost by allowing designs to be simulated and analyzed before hardware is purchased and manufactured. This helps identify and rectify any issues or inefficiencies early in the design process. Additionally, computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) tools are used in the manufacturing stage to control automated machinery based on the design data generated by the EDA tools, thus transforming the design concept into a physical product.
Within the realm of electronic design, there are two main categories of tools: computer-aided engineering (CAE) and computer-aided design (CAD). CAE tools focus on the design and analysis of electronic elements, enabling simulations, analysis, and verification of design decisions. On the other hand, CAD tools aid in producing the physical layout of the circuit board, facilitating the placement of components, clearance verification, thermal analysis, and supporting manufacturing processes.
The integration of online component libraries and circuit simulation functionality in ECAD systems enables designers to verify design decisions quickly and accurately. These systems also provide visual representations of the completed layout, supporting activities such as enclosure clearance verification, thermal analysis, and electronics manufacturing processes. Feedback from these engineering activities can be incorporated back into the circuit design process, allowing for adjustments, refinements, or even redesigns to address conflicts or issues.
Overall, EDA tools play a vital role in the electronic design process, offering improved efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness. They have revolutionized the way electronic systems are designed, verified, and manufactured, enabling the realization of innovative and reliable products in industries such as aerospace and defense.
Computer-aided engineering and Computer-Aided Design
Computer-aided engineering (CAE) and computer-aided design (CAD) are essential components of the electronic design automation (EDA) process. CAE focuses on the design and analysis of electronic elements, while CAD supports the creation of physical layouts and PCB designs.
ECAD systems, which fall under CAD, play a crucial role in the design and analysis of electronic elements in a product. These systems leverage the availability of online libraries containing vast component data and integrate circuit simulation functionality, enabling designers to quickly and accurately verify their design decisions. By simulating the behavior of electronic circuits, designers can ensure that their designs meet performance and reliability requirements.
Once the design has been verified, ECAD systems assist in generating a printed circuit board (PCB) layout. This process is significantly faster and more efficient compared to traditional manual techniques. The system optimizes the placement of components, taking into account factors such as signal integrity, power distribution, and thermal management. Visual representations of the completed layout provide crucial information for tasks like enclosure clearance verification, thermal analysis, and support for electronics manufacturing processes.
The feedback loop between these supporting engineering activities and the circuit design process is a vital aspect of ECAD systems. Any conflicts or issues identified during enclosure clearance verification, thermal analysis, or manufacturing considerations can be integrated back into the circuit design process. This allows designers to make necessary adjustments, refinements, or even complete redesigns to ensure optimal performance, reliability, and manufacturability of the electronic system.
Overall, the integration of CAE and CAD tools within the EDA framework empowers designers in the electronic design process. It enables faster and more accurate verification of design decisions, efficient PCB layout generation, and seamless collaboration between design and supporting engineering activities. ECAD systems are indispensable in optimizing the electronic design process, leading to improved product quality and reduced time to market.
For in-depth understanding on EDA technology and applications please visit: Comprehensive Guide to Electronic Design Automation (EDA): Tools, Techniques, and Applications
Electronic design automation (EDA) software has revolutionized the field of electronic design and manufacture by providing a range of powerful tools and capabilities. One of the key aspects of EDA software is its ability to enable designers to explore different iterations of printed circuit boards (PCBs). Designers can create abstract diagrams or detailed layouts and 3D assemblies, allowing them to compare and evaluate various design alternatives. This iterative process is instrumental in optimizing the design for factors such as performance, manufacturability, and cost.
Another essential function of ECAD software is the generation of manufacturing documentation. This documentation serves as a specification used by manufacturers to source, fabricate, and produce PCBs. It includes detailed information about the design, materials, and manufacturing processes, ensuring accurate and efficient production.
Simulation tools are a fundamental component of EDA software. These tools allow designers to predict and analyze the behavior of proposed circuits before implementation. By using hardware description languages such as Verilog or VHDL, simulation tools model the circuit’s behavior at different levels of detail. This enables designers to gain insights into circuit performance, identify potential issues, and validate the design’s functionality.
Design tools provided by ECAD software facilitate the assembly and connection of circuit elements to realize the desired circuit function. These tools encompass both logical and physical design processes. The logical design process involves selecting and connecting circuit elements, while the physical design process focuses on creating interconnected geometric shapes that will be manufactured. Place and route algorithms automate the placement of components and the routing of interconnects, streamlining the design process and ensuring optimal circuit performance.
Verification tools play a critical role in ECAD software by ensuring the correctness of circuit connectivity and performance. Physical verification examines the layout’s interconnected geometries to ensure compliance with manufacturing requirements. Functional verification compares the implemented circuit to the original design description to ensure that it functions as intended. Verification can also involve simulation-based testing and equivalence checking to validate the behavior of the circuit under different conditions.
ECAD software also offers diagramming and layout capabilities, allowing engineers to define electronic components and their interconnections. Engineers can select components from standardized libraries and create the outline and dimensions of the PCB. Furthermore, automation features in ECAD software automate trace routing, which defines the path that traces follow in specific PCB layers between electronic components. This automation, combined with the ability to switch between PCB layers, enhances efficiency and accuracy in PCB design.
In addition, ECAD software provides 3D assembly capabilities, enabling the creation of 3D models of the PCB. These models are valuable for checking enclosure clearance, thermal analysis, and managing heat dissipation from electronic components. The multi-board design capabilities of ECAD software allow the diagramming and layout of multiple interconnected PCBs, ensuring seamless integration and compatibility. Furthermore, IC and PCB co-design features optimize the integration of integrated circuits (ICs) into the PCB, resulting in efficient trace connections and compact footprints.
Collaboration and concurrent design capabilities are also integral to ECAD software. Multiple team members can work simultaneously on the same PCB or multi-board PCB design, facilitating real-time collaboration, task division, and efficient integration of design changes.
Enhancing Design Efficiency: EDA tools streamline the design process by providing advanced features for modeling, simulation, and optimization. Designers can create complex electronic systems, such as avionics and defense systems, with greater efficiency and accuracy. EDA tools enable system-level design exploration, architectural analysis, and optimization, leading to optimal designs that meet stringent requirements.
Addressing Complexity and Integration: Modern aerospace and defense systems are highly complex, incorporating a wide range of components and technologies. EDA tools excel in managing this complexity, allowing designers to integrate analog, digital, RF, and mixed-signal components seamlessly. They provide methodologies for designing multi-domain systems and tools for efficient collaboration among various engineering disciplines.
Enabling Verification and Validation: Reliability and safety are paramount in aerospace and defense applications. EDA tools offer advanced verification and validation techniques, ensuring that designs adhere to specifications and standards. Formal verification, assertion-based verification, and coverage analysis help identify potential design flaws and reduce the risk of errors or failures during operation.
Power Optimization and Management: In aerospace and defense, power optimization is critical due to strict power constraints and the need for energy efficiency. EDA tools provide capabilities for power optimization, including dynamic power management, voltage scaling, and leakage power reduction. Designers can accurately analyze and optimize power consumption, extending battery life, reducing heat dissipation, and enhancing overall system performance.
Design for Manufacturability and Testability: EDA tools help address challenges related to manufacturing and testing in aerospace and defense systems. Design for Manufacturability (DFM) features enable designs that are more robust against process variations, lithography challenges, and manufacturing constraints. Additionally, EDA tools support testability features, such as automated test pattern generation and built-in self-test (BIST), ensuring easier and more efficient testing of complex systems.
Security and Reliability: Security is a paramount concern in aerospace and defense applications. EDA tools are evolving to incorporate features for hardware security, secure communication, and encryption. They enable designers to implement robust security measures and perform vulnerability analysis to mitigate potential risks.
Collaboration and Standardization: The aerospace and defense industries thrive on collaboration and standardization. EDA tools facilitate seamless collaboration among diverse teams, enabling efficient sharing of design data and fostering innovation. Standardization efforts, such as interoperability standards and open-source initiatives, promote tool compatibility and facilitate the exchange of design information.
In conclusion, ECAD software plays a crucial role in the electronic design and manufacture process, offering a comprehensive suite of tools and capabilities. It empowers designers to explore design iterations, generate manufacturing documentation, simulate and validate circuit behavior, streamline the design process through automation, and support collaborative design. With its wide range of functionalities, ECAD software significantly enhances efficiency, accuracy, and quality in electronic design.
China planning to catch up in electronic design automation to spur its semiconductor efforts
China is determined to catch up in the field of electronic design automation (EDA) to bolster its semiconductor efforts. The trade war between China and the US has highlighted the risk of restricted access to key technologies for Chinese companies. For instance, the US imposed trade restrictions on Huawei, prohibiting American companies from selling chips to the Chinese tech giant. China heavily relies on semiconductor imports, despite making the industry a national priority in 2000.
In response to these challenges, Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping, have called for national self-reliance in core technologies and breakthroughs in key areas. Areas of weakness identified in China’s self-reliance drive include operating systems and electronic design automation. Chinese experts believe that while there is no need to reinvent the wheel and duplicate existing technologies, investments in strategic areas are necessary to mitigate the risk of being dependent on a limited number of suppliers.
To boost its semiconductor sector, China recognizes the need for increased investment. Compared to global industry leaders like Intel, China’s current expenditure on research and development in the semiconductor field is considered insufficient. However, China’s industry watchdog has ramped up efforts to support chip development, and initiatives like the Shanghai tech board provide a platform for fundraising and attracting talented entrepreneurs.
Experts predict that China will experience a “golden decade” in chip development, with the country aiming to produce 40 percent of its chip demand by the end of the decade, up from the current 14 percent. This ambitious goal reflects China’s determination to reduce its dependence on semiconductor imports and become more self-sufficient in the crucial field of electronic design automation.
Verific and DARPA Sign Partnership for Streamlined Access to Industry-Standard SystemVerilog EDA Software
In a partnership announced in December 2020, Verific Design Automation and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have collaborated to provide the DARPA community with access to Verific’s electronic design automation (EDA) software. The agreement aims to support DARPA’s Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI) by facilitating collaborations between commercial electronics companies and DARPA-funded programs.
Under the agreement, the DARPA community gains access to Verific’s hardware description language (HDL) software, including its SystemVerilog parser and static and register transfer logic (RTL) elaborators. These tools serve as the front-end for various applications in the semiconductor industry, such as simulation, formal verification, synthesis, emulation, and design for test. By leveraging Verific’s industry-standard EDA software, DARPA-funded programs can accelerate their development processes and improve time-to-market while maintaining high quality standards.
The partnership holds significance as it supports over 20 DARPA-funded programs focused on promoting U.S. microelectronics leadership. These programs, led by the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO), drive technological and economic advancements in the microelectronics sector. By providing easy access to reliable and industrial-strength software frameworks like Verific’s, DARPA enables its community to concentrate on scientific breakthroughs and seamlessly transition their discoveries into commercial and defense applications.
Verific’s SystemVerilog, VHDL, and universal power format (UPF) Parser Platforms are widely adopted in semiconductor companies worldwide, ranging from emerging startups to established Fortune 500 vendors. The availability of Verific’s software as C++ source code allows for compatibility across various operating systems, including Unix, Linux, Mac OS, and Windows.
Overall, the partnership between Verific and DARPA streamlines access to industry-standard EDA software for the DARPA community, facilitating collaboration and innovation in the pursuit of advancing electronics progress.
Global Electronic Design Automation Market
The global electronic design automation (EDA) market is expected to witness significant growth, driven by the expanding semiconductor industry and the increasing demand for smart devices and efficient semiconductor products.
The Electronics Design Automation Tool Market size is estimated at USD 16.34 billion in 2023, and is expected to reach USD 24.52 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 8.46% during the forecast period (2023-2028).
EDA has become more popular due to its many benefits, including shorter design times and fewer errors. EDA tools have become more widely used in various industries, including the automotive and aerospace industries. However, one of EDA’s shortcomings lies in its inability to obtain insights from previous designs.
The adoption of EDA tools is being fueled by various factors, including the growth of medical and surgical devices, advancements in consumer electronics, and the complexity of designing chips for emerging technologies such as 5G and IoT. EDA tools with machine learning capabilities and the integration of technologies like cloud and AI are contributing to market growth. For example, Synopsys Inc. introduced the industry’s first autonomous AI application for chip design, while Samsung Electronics launched a secure cloud design platform in collaboration with Rescale.
The main factors propelling the market’s expansion are the growing need for compact electronic devices and the expanding use of SoC technology across various industries, including automotive, IoT, and AI. The deployment of CAE services and the use of AI and other technologies are being emphasized to enhance electronic design automation, given the criticality of cost, performance, and reliability in electronics.
The silicon sector has evolved in recent years because of electronic design automation (EDA) techniques. EDA is responsible for creating the design tools necessary for the IC design process at a cost that enables the ecosystem to run profitably. Some of the benefits of using EDA tools include reducing the amount of time needed to develop complicated ICs, cutting manufacturing costs, eliminating manufacturing defects, improving IC design and ease of use, etc.
The market is segmented based on various applications, including automotive infotainment systems, mobile phones, telecommunication, 5G chipsets, and medical devices. The advent of 5G technology is expected to drive significant demand for EDA tools, as the connectivity revolutionizes consumer appliances, industrial manufacturing, and telecommunication devices.
Geographically, the United States plays a significant role in the semiconductor industry, with a strong presence in manufacturing, design, and research. The Asia Pacific region is witnessing substantial growth in electronic design automation, driven by the presence of electronics and automobile manufacturing companies, increasing smartphone adoption, and digitization of business processes.
Key players in the global EDA market include CadSoft Computer, Cadence Design Systems, Invionics, Xilinx, Inc., Synopsys, Inc., Keysight Technologies, Mentor Graphics, and JEDA Technologies. Mergers and acquisitions are prevalent in the market as companies aim to expand their customer base and enhance their products and services.
Overall, the global electronic design automation market is poised for significant growth, propelled by technological advancements, expanding industries, and the need for efficient semiconductor solutions in various applications.
IC physical design refers to the creation of geometric representations of ICs, using EDA tools. EDA is used to divide the chip into smaller blocks and then plan the specific space required for each block to ensure maximum performance. These blocks are then placed, using before and after clock synthesis.
The recent technological advancements have been helping several chipset manufacturers to make use of ASIC technology, mainly for 5G. To further improve 5G chipsets, manufacturers can focus on several key areas. Firstly, performance optimization is crucial to meet the high data rate and low latency requirements of 5G networks. This involves refining the IC physical design process using Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools to maximize performance through block division, space planning, clock synthesis, and block placement.
Cost reduction is another important aspect. Manufacturers can streamline production processes and explore cost-effective options like structured ASICs that combine ASIC and FPGA elements. By optimizing production costs, chipsets can become more affordable and accessible.
Power efficiency is critical for mobile devices. Continuous research and development efforts should be dedicated to enhancing power efficiency through semiconductor materials, circuit designs, and power management techniques. This helps prolong battery life and improve energy efficiency.
Size and form factor should also be considered. Chipset manufacturers can integrate more components into a single chip or explore miniaturization techniques to reduce the size and enable sleeker and more portable 5G-enabled devices.
Integration of advanced technologies like AI and ML can enhance performance, power efficiency, and functionality. Chipset manufacturers should keep pace with these advancements to optimize their chipsets and enable intelligent decision-making and adaptive behavior.
Collaboration with telecom OEMs, network operators, and industry stakeholders is essential for driving innovation. By partnering and understanding specific requirements, customized solutions can be developed to address the unique needs of different networks and devices.
Compliance with 5G standards ensures interoperability and compatibility. Active participation in standardization organizations and close collaboration with partners will help chipset manufacturers meet the necessary standards and drive the widespread adoption of 5G technology.
Continuous research and development efforts are vital to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving field of 5G chipsets. Investing in R&D, exploring new technologies, and staying updated with the latest advancements will enable manufacturers to deliver cutting-edge solutions and contribute to the seamless deployment and adoption of 5G technology in various applications.
The United States is a significant country in manufacturing, design, and research in the semiconductor industry. The region’s prominence drives the demand in exporting electronics equipment and growing end-user industries that are significant consumers of semiconductors, such as consumer electronics and the automotive industry. For instance, according to the SIA(Semiconductor Industry Association), the semiconductor industry employs nearly a quarter of a million workers in the United States. The US semiconductor company sales totaled USD 208 billion in 2020.
Asia Pacific electronic design automation (EDA) industry size is anticipated to experience a steady expansion over the forecast timeframe owing to widespread presence of electronics and automobile manufacturing companies, as well as a surge in the purchasing power of consumers.
The region has witnessed an unmatched rise in the adoption of smartphones and digitization of business processes, fueling deployment of electronic design automation software to cater to a booming consumer electronics manufacturing sector.
Proliferation of the manufacturing segment in U.S. has resulted from the development of modern production technologies and increased access to faster communication network over the past decade. The country is home to leading chipmakers like Qualcomm and numerous EDA software providers, which serve the consumer electronics, aerospace and automotive OEMs in the region. The U.S. consumer electronics sector is anticipated to reach USD 301 billion valuation in 2019, demonstrating the tremendous potential of EDA market from a higher demand for electronic products.
Several manufacturers in APAC have undertaken efforts for expanding beyond existing territories and boost production capacities for all electronic devices they make. For example, Taiwanese group Foxconn had recently purchased land use rights in Vietnam and invested a huge amount in an Indian subsidiary. Pegatron, which assembles around 30% of Apple Inc.’s products, had also announced plans to increase capacity in India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Higher production of electronic products and components will certainly propel APAC electronic design automation market forecast in the coming years.
Key players outlining the competitive hierarchy of global electronic design automation market include CadSoft Computer, Cadence Design Systems, Invionics, Xilinx, Inc., Synopsys, Inc., Keysight Technologies, Mentor Graphics and JEDA Technologies, among others. Mergers and acquisitions are being preferred by leading companies to expand their customer base and enhance products and services. Software providers are aiming to keep pace with consistently rising challenges in semiconductor IP design and verification, through continuous R&D efforts and higher investments.
June 2021 – Aldec Inc. launched HES-DVM Proto Cloud Edition (CE). It is available through Amazon Web Service (AWS); HES-DVM Proto CE can be used for FPGA-based prototyping of SoC / ASIC designs and focuses on automated design partitioning to greatly reduce bring-up time when up to four FPGAs are needed to accommodate a design.
May 2021 – Cadence Design Systems announced low-power IP for the PCI Express 5.0 specification that targets hyper-scale computing, networking, and storage applications that are made on TSMC N5 process technology. In addition, PCIe 5.0 technology consists of a PHY, companion controller, and Verification IP (VIP) targeted at SoC designs for very high bandwidth to suit the applications.
In June 2021, Taiwan-based Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd (TSMC) started construction at a site in Arizona where it plans to spend USD 12 billion to build a computer chip factory, which will start volume production of chips using the company’s 5-nanometer production technology starting in 2024. The company also announced a USD 100 billion investment plan in April 2021 to increase capacity at its factories over the next three years.
Electronic Design Automation (EDA) is revolutionizing the aerospace and defense industries, empowering designers to tackle complex challenges and push the boundaries of technology. By enhancing design efficiency, addressing complexity, enabling verification and validation, optimizing power, supporting manufacturing and testing, ensuring security and reliability, and promoting collaboration, EDA tools play a crucial role in shaping the future of aerospace and defense systems. As technology advances, EDA will continue to evolve, enabling even more efficient, reliable, and innovative designs that propel the aerospace and defense industries forward.
References and Resources also include: