Our industry of microelectronics design is powered by highly complex fabrications that require an equivalent tool to help create them. Between manufacturers and designs of hardware, firmware, software and service providers, electronic design automation tools are essential to creating digital and analog semiconductor devices and electronic microchips.
What are EDA tools?
EDA tools are a suite of electronic design automation software designed to help integrated circuit design engineers, hardware engineers and layout engineers, design and develop electronics circuits at a nanoscopic scale.
EDA software solutions are provided by major companies and of course there are industry standards that the majority of the market will utilize depending on the foundry of choice (for example: TSMC, SMIC, GlobalFoundries, and Samsung).
Throughout an engineer’s career, they will familiarize themselves with many EDA tools, softwares and suites from different vendors for various functional purposes including design, layout, verification, characterization and simulation.
Leading EDA Tools, Software and Solutions Providers
Here are the top EDA tools used by major IC design companies around the world.
Synopsys inc. is a leading American EDA solutions provider with focuses across multiple industries including automotive, aerospace, financial services, memory, mobile/5G technology, Internet of Things (IoT) and more.
Synopsys EDA tools are used worldwide and partnered with popular foundries including Intel, ARM, Samsung and TSMC. Founded by Aart J de Geus and David Gregory in 1986 in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, their software caters to a holistic approach for design, layout, verification, modeling and simulation.
Based in California USA
Cadence Design Systems Inc is an American multinational electronic automation (EDA) company founded in 1988 that provides platforms for custom IC technology, digital implementation and signoff technologies, verification technologies, IPs and more.
Cadence is a pivotal leader in electronic design helping its customers deliver the most extraordinary products from chips to systems for the most dynamic market. For seven years in a row, Fortune magazine has named Cadence one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.
Based in California USA
Siemens EDA (previously Mentor Graphics)
Initially founded in 1981, Mentor Graphics was a US-based EDA solutions provider that was acquired by Siemens in 2017 and later rebranded to Siemens EDA.
Primarily geared towards providing electronics design automation solutions for the automated vehicle technology industry, Siemens EDA provides tooling for IC design, verification, packaging and manufacturing. With the prospect of SystemVerilog-driven 2.5/3D IC integration, design and verification.
Based in California USA
Ansys Inc. offers various simulation softwares for different industries including motorsports, aviation, and computing. They have a suite of EDA tools designed to speed completion times of even the most complex
finFET integrated circuits (IC) and 3D/2.5D multi-die systems. Their products include RedHawk-SC and Totem-SC for power integrity (EM/IR) analysis and modeling; and electrothermal analysis of 2.5D/3D multi-die systems.
The company was founded in 1970 by John Swanson after he left Westinghouse Astronuclear Lab, where he came back as a consultant.
Based in Pennsylvania USA
Keysight Technologies is known for their EDA tool PathWave Advanced Design System which they claim is the industry’s most trusted Power Electronics (PE) Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software tools.
PathWave ADS offers engineers end-to-end design and testing tools which includes a power electronics library containing essential information for high-level power electronics design.
Keysight Technologies traces its roots to Hewlett-Packard (HP) who created an off-shot company – Agilent Technologies which specialized in developing scientific and medical testing instruments. In 2014, Agilent created an off-shoot of their testing and measurement division which became Keysight Technologies.
Based in California USA
Agnisys Inc. is the proprietor of tools such as IDesignSpec, IDS NextGen, and SoC Enterprise. Their solutions are known to help design architects and engineers ease their workflow by providing tools that can easily be integrated to basic programs such as MS Word, MS Excel, and LibreOffice. Most of their EDA tools are designed for creating and verifying Intellectual Properties (IP) and System-on-Chip (SOC) projects.
The company was founded in 2007 and currently operates in Boston, Massachusetts. Agnisys also has Research & Development centers in India and the United States.
Based in Massachusetts USA
Aldec Inc. provides EDA solutions for military, aerospace, automotive, and other industries. The company’s flagship tool being their FPGA Design Solution which is a comprehensive all-in-one platform that improves the development process. Their product line also includes FPGA Simulation (Active-HDL), Functional Verification (Riviera-Pro), and Emulating and Prototyping (HES-DVM). Their solutions ensure that clients can achieve DO-254 compliance in their projects.
Aldec was founded in 1984 and is currently based in Nevada, USA. They currently have 50+ global partners, and a global sales distribution network in over 43 countries.
Based in Nevada USA
Lauterbach GmbH specializes in debugging complex systems including boot loader, hypervisor and several concurrent operating systems. Aside from this, they also have logic analyzers that can handle the debugging of multicore chips. The company is most known for their TRACE32 – a modular system used to trace and debug hardwares and softwares using JTAG.
The company has been providing both complete, modular, and upgradeable microprocessor development tools since 1979. They are headquartered in Germany, but also have offices in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, United States, Japan, and China.
Based in Upper Bavaria Germany
Zuken is a Japanese company founded in 1976. They pioneered in the development of CAD systems used for electronics manufacturing. Currently, they provide various design solutions for companies creating electrical and electronic products. They are known for CR-8000 – a suite of tools that covers the entire PCB engineering lifecycle. This design solution includes both 2D and 3D multi-board design, system circuit engineering, and chip, package, and PCB co-design.
One of the company’s thrusts towards the future is integrating digital engineering as their entry into the Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) industry.
Based in Yokohama Japan
Founded in 1980 and headquartered in Tokyo, Japan – JEDAT has a suite of EDA solutions to help companies design pioneering technologies used across a variety of products and industries.
JEDAT’s suite of tools support LSI design, PCB and package design, flat panel display design, and fine pattern design. JEDAT is known for SX-Meister, popular amongst engineers throughout Asia and the world.
Based in Minato, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Japan
Of course, with these tools they come at a relatively low-cost when compared to the output required of engineers. While the cost is relatively low, the barrier of entry for many engineers is high and the initial costs for these tools are reduced during their academic studies, and furthermore – in almost all cases, the tools are provided by the employing companies for their engineers.
There are free EDA tools available on the market that are open source, but not commonly utilized by industry for end product development. These tools are a great way to grasp the concepts and fundamentals of IC design flows before moving into more robust software solution suites that are up to date with the latest technologies such as Cadence or Synopsys.
Free EDA tools:
Most free EDA tools do have limited capabilities, but that’s not to do with the functionality and more to do with the desired size of tech nodes supported. Most entry-level academic institutions utilize free EDA tools as a gateway towards the industry.
Here is a list of free and open source EDA tools available on the market today: