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Fabless: The Transformation of the Semiconductor Industry (Anglais) Broché – 1 avril 2014

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Biographie de l'auteur

Dr. Paul McLellan has a 25 year background in semiconductor and EDA with both deep technical knowledge and extensive business experience. He works as a consultant in EDA, embedded systems and semiconductor. Paul was educated in Britain and spent the early part of his career as a software engineer at VLSI Technology both in California and France, eventually becoming CEO of Compass Design Automation. Since then he was VP engineering at Ambit, corporate VP at Cadence, VPs of marketing at VaST Systems Technology and Virtutech, and interim CEO at Envis Corporation. He blogs at dac.com and at semiwiki.com and has published a book EDAgrafitti on the EDA and semiconductor industries. Daniel Nenni has worked in Silicon Valley since 1984 with computer manufacturers, electronic design automation software, and semiconductor intellectual property companies. Currently Daniel is a Strategic Foundry Relationship expert for companies wishing to partner with TSMC, UMC, SMIC, Global Foundries, and their top customers. Daniel is the founder of the Semiconductor Wiki Project (www.semiwiki.com).

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Absolutely "Fabless" – a book review 22 avril 2014
Par Steven H. Leibson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
SemiWiki’s Daniel Nenni and Paul McLellan published “Fabless: The Transformation of the Semiconductor Industry” a couple of months ago. I’ve just finished reading it and have to say that if you have anything to do with the semiconductor industry you need to read this book. Nenni’s and McLellan’s book is invaluable if only to document the history of the industry’s fabless semiconductor transformation. In the beginning, semiconductor vendors were soup-to-nuts companies that both designed the ICs and developed the process technologies and fab facilities needed to turn the designs into chips. In the 1970s, nearly anyone could get into the semiconductor business and many people did. Such companies were originally called “semiconductor vendors” but nomenclature evolved and they’re now called IDMs (independent device manufacturers).

However by the 1980s, fabs, processes, and chip designs got more complicated—a lot more complicated. Then they got even more complicated. That’s when it became apparent to a few people that chip design and chip fabrication should become independent specialties. This fork in the road produced fabless semiconductor companies like Xilinx and semiconductor foundries like TSMC.

The same situation also saw the rise of independent EDA companies. In the early days, the semiconductor vendors developed their own tools. IBM was perhaps the most well-known example of a semiconductor company that developed its own tools. But the rise of fabless semiconductor companies created an exploding market for EDA tools, so the fabless revolution sparked an EDA revolution too.

All of this is captured in “Fabless: The Transformation of the Semiconductor Industry.” A three-decade chronicle in 216 pages.

(Full disclosure: I wrote the chapter on Xilinx in this book.)
What I didn't know about Electronic Design Automation 22 avril 2014
Par Daniel Payne - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
I started using internal EDA tools at Intel beginning in 1978 and have worked in the commercial EDA industry since 1986, so it was a delight to read a chapter about EDA in Nenni and McLellan's newest book: Fabless - The Transformation of the Semiconductor Industry. Starting in the 1970's the authors talk about EDA, Phase One and how painfully manual the whole process of designing an Integrated Circuit was. I'll never forget working at Intel at the time and performing manual Design Rule Checks (DRC) on an IC layout, when I stopped to ask my manager, "Hey, what about using a software program to automate this tedious task?"

His hasty response was, "No way, we hire you new college graduates to do this grunt work, so get back to work and stop asking questions."

All of the pioneering EDA companies are included in this chapter, and it reminds me of the EDA wiki page that we created to list every single EDA merger and acquisition, except in the book we have the behind-the-scenes story of the rise and fall of each EDA company and some of the luminaries that founded the companies.

By the 1980's we reached EDA, Phase Two and the growth of commercial EDA companies took off like a rocket. I even bought the book Introduction to VLSI Systems from Mead and Conway, introducing the concept of lambda-based design, a technique used at my first EDA company - Silicon Compiler Systems. ASIC companies started up and you could design with Gate Arrays, Standard Cell or Full Custom. It was the heady days of the DMV - Daisy, Mentor, Valid.

EDA, Phase Three describes the history of Customer Owned Tooling (COT) and how Cadence got its start. Even the biggest lawsuit of all EDA history is covered by recounting the illegal activity of Avant! in their quest to compete with Cadence in the place and route business.

Logic synthesis started EDA, Phase Four and you can probably guess that Synopsys was at the forefront of that transition to an RTL-based design methodology. There were many other players at that same time with their own logic synthesis approach, yet the winning factors that made Synopsys the leading vendor are described.

Today we are experiencing EDA, Phase Five, with full-service software companies offering both point tools, sub-flows and even IP.

The final three sections of the EDA chapter have authors from the big-three talk about their unique histories: Mentor Graphics, Cadence Design Systems and Synopsys. These three public companies generate some 75% of all revenue for the industry.

Mentor Graphics

The story of how the Mentor Graphcis founders left Tektronix, created a business plan, and cobbled together their first product in time for a DAC show was inspiring. I worked at Silicon Compiler Systems and was acquired by Mentor Graphics in the 1990's, so it was fun to see how that acquisition fit into the bigger scheme of things at Mentor. The first business model at Mentor in the early days included bundling the hardware, operating system and EDA software all together. As Sun, HP and IBM began offering workstations, we saw Mentor shift from a bundled model, to a software-only model.

Cadence Design Systems

Cadence Design Systems had a fascinating history by forming with the merger of SDA Systems and ECAD. Each new acquisition seemed to be perfectly timed under the leadership of Joe Costello. Stories of how Dracula, Verilog and Tangate got developed or acquired give an idea of how the company dominated early market segments with best-in-class point tools.


Synopsys was at first named Optimal Solutions, Inc before moving from North Carolina to California. It's history started out humbly enough with an EDA tool that could read a Gate Array netlist, optimize it, then produce a netlist with fewer gates. It took years before language was used as an input, at first it was all gates in, and gates out. Like the other EDA companies, growth also came through strategic acquisition for tools like functional verification, ATPG and physical implementation. Both Cadence and Synopsys have made recent acquisitions into the Verification IP and IP segments.


Even if you've lived through the EDA industry from the 1970's until present like me, there is a wealth of information and stories in this chapter that will keep you both entertained and informed. Remember, those that forget to study history are doomed to repeat the same mistakes.
Kindle version is a mess 15 mai 2014
Par Tom D - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I was looking forward to reading this and bought the Kindle edition as soon it was available. Unfortunately there are so many typo s that it is unreadable. For example the opening paragraph of the foreword is this:
emiconductor innovation has the power to change the world.
Although, well over half a century ago, when semiconductors
semiconductors to innovate has stretched beyond its original
applications. It has also changed how semiconductors are

I'd love to give a 5 star review, but can't do that until there is a readable version.
the industry view of its own history 8 septembre 2014
Par John G. Bennett - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This book is a set of histories of major players in the development of fabless semiconductor. In parts, it is invited histories by insiders. The book is interesting for this collection of various insider viewpoints. If you are in the industry or deal with it, or interested in its history, this is a fascinating collection. If you are expecting deep discussion of technology, this is not the book you are looking for.
Good beginner read. 19 juillet 2014
Par Hemanth K. Thangudu - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This is a great read for anyone who is new to the world of semiconductors. I would couple it with the "Essentials of Telecommunications" and a simple overview of electromagnetics and chemistry on brilliant.org.

I think Nenni is off the mark with a few things that are subjective, but otherwise I'd recommend this book to anyone looking to get immersed.
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