Communication takes another hit in EDA

Disturbing, though not surprising news out of the EDA industry this week.  I've stated a few weeks ago that Cadence has been going through another round of culling in the marketing departments and last week I learned that Synopsys, too, has been quietly downsizing marketing (why market when you're number one and your competitors aren't even trying).  Haven't heard a peep out of Mentor, but with Carl Icahn barking at their heels they have other problems... and Magma cuts it's marketing budget every year so that's nothing new.


None of that is disturbing, though.  At a recent company meeting in Cadence fairly recently, the executive team did a panel presentation on where the company was heading.  My sources (confirmed twice) reported that after the presentation, one brave soul rose to ask someone to clarify the vision for the company (because it just wasn't clear in the presentation).  Charlie Huang, chief strategy officer took the microphone and said, "We are going to follow the same strategy we have had for the past 20 years..."


And not a peep from EDA360 guru John Bruggeman. 


The entire premise of EDA360 is that business in EDA has to be done differently and it is a premise I completely agree with.  I've said before that I thought the philosophy Bruggeman brought to Cadence was bold while not entirely original, but definitely a direction Cadence and the rest of the industry needed to consider seriously.  I've also had my doubts that the powers that be and have always been in Cadence -- and the rest of the industry -- would ever allow the vision to see reality. 


The vision of EDA360 was pretty sweeping.  in Bruggeman's own words:


"First, the EDA and semiconductor industries have until now focused on design creation. With $100 million development costs on the horizon, there will be far fewer creators. Many designers will become integrators who make heavy use of pre-designed IP [intellectual property] to build SoCs and systems. EDA tools so far have only addressed creators, and this must change.


"Second, EDA until now has primarily focused on helping creators overcome the productivity gap. This work must continue, but what integrators are most concerned about is a profitability gap. Closing this gap requires new tools and approaches that can reduce design costs and bring in more revenue.


"Third, design going forward will be driven by apps. People will start with the applications and then build, or source, highly optimized hardware/software platforms. The traditional approach, in which hardware is built first and software and applications are tacked on later, has become too inefficient and costly. Thus traditional design tools and methodologies must evolve, and EDA360 will accomplish that."


So, doing things as you have for the previous 20 years...? Not so great an idea.  And yet, that is the plan.


I'm not picking on Cadence, just to be clear.  The entire industry's vision is sclerotic.  The EDA360 team came in with what was, essentially, a revolutionary approach to make the industry grow again.


But all of this is still not the disturbing thing.


The disturbing thing is that I have know some pretty amazing marketers and communicators in EDA and just about all of them have given up on the industry and are leaving.  Some, who are out of work now, have resolved never to return.  That means the ability to communicate with the market is leaving the industry altogether.  That's not good.


EDA is an important industry, but it's not set for growth anytime soon with the current leadership.  That makes Icahn, possibly, its savior... as distasteful as that may be.