Semiconductor Engineering’s Kevin Fogarty has penned a piece on the industry’s increasing interest in open-source electronic design automation (EDA) tools, thanks in no small part to the growth of open hardware projects including RISC-V.

“Open-source EDA is back on the semiconductor industry’s agenda, spurred by growing interest in open-source hardware,” Fogarty writes in the article, entitled ‘Will Open-Source EDA Work?’ “But whether the industry embraces the idea with enough enthusiasm to make it successful is not clear yet.”

“This is a very challenging problem. It is going to require a lot of people bringing their expertise to the table and a lot of collaboration,” adds Andreas Olofsson, who is leading open-hardware and open-software EDA projects at the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). “Seeing this work time after time – the latest example being with the development of machine learning – we’ve seen that innovation and collaboration are orders of magnitude more effective when you use open-source. Things that are disruptive, things that require many teams to collaborate and add components – open source is the only practical way to accomplish those things in a research setting.”

Fogarty’s article includes voices urging restraint – including Linley Group president Linley Gwenapp, who warns that major semiconductor companies like Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Intel are more likely to work closely with proprietary EDA companies than to adopt an open-source workflow – though does not mention any of the major examples of successful open-source EDA flows in-the-wild including those showcased at the Design, Automation, and Test in Europe (DATE) 19 conference in March this year.

Fogarty’s full piece is available on Semiconductor Engineering now.

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