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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

The Indian Semiconductor: Market Trends to Watch in 2011

Alok Mehrotra
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Alok Mehrotra
The Indian semiconductor industry represents every aspect of the semiconductor lifecycle from cutting edge electronic design automation (EDA) and very large scale integration (VLSI) design companies to an evolving manufacturing ecosystem. The semiconductor industry has grown into a prominent player in the past couple of decades and has been a vital contributor to the nation’s economy. In 2011, emerging trends in semiconductor design and growing demand for electronic products within India give reason for additional optimism about the future of the India semiconductor industry.

In 2010, virtually every SoC design is a mixed-signal design a mixture of digital and analog functions. For example, the modern high-end cell-phone has a single, large, high-performance mixed-signal IC containing the bulk of the analog and digital functionality combined with a special RF chip. Mixed-signal design has become much more challenging, yet the evolution of a true mixed-signal solution has been relatively slow.

Existing EDA companies, traditionally specializing in digital design, have tried to address the problem by purchasing existing, mature analog solutions. The result is a disparate collection of point tools not well-suited for integration. For example, analog and digital tools use different databases, crippling communication between the two domains. Digital and analog design teams still largely work in isolation with little or no visibility into what the other team is doing.
Because these EDA companies "bolt together" existing analog and digital tool suites, they fail to provide an optimal way to handle the complexity of implementing large analog, digital and mixed-signal IP blocks.

Further, the majority of analog tools were conceived in the early and mid-1990s, and the underlying architectures of these tools were never intended to support the sophisticated demands of a mixed-signal design environment. As a result, designers are limited to capturing and simulating transistor-level schematics. Thus, analog ICs are still largely full custom and are painstakingly crafted by hand. In addition to being expensive, time-consuming and prone to error, this transistor-level design style does not allow an existing design to be easily transferred to a new foundry or process/technology node.

As the EDA industry closes out 2010, a better solution for mixed-signal design is on the horizon. It has to happen. As analog content grows and digital design sizes increase, a fully integrated, automated analog and digital design environment will be required for the growing complexity of mixed-signal SoC designs.

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