Poaching from the top EDA software giants, can we break through the blockade and realize domestic substitution?

In the past two years, the problem of “stuck neck” in the chip field has become an important topic of concern in the Chinese industry and even the whole society. The lithography machine is the most concerned “symbol”. If you pay more attention to the industry, you may also pay attention to equipment such as etching machines and ion implanters. In addition, EDA (Electronic design automation, EDA, which means electronic design automation) software It is also a major focus of business attention.

EDA design software is an indispensable tool for IC design manufacturers in the semiconductor industry. Without it, it is impossible to design chip products with dozens or even tens of billions of transistors at the nanoscale.

Or become a more deadly soft underbelly, US companies occupy an absolute dominant position

Compared with the supply of lithography machines (and other equipment) in the foundry field, the lack of capabilities of the Chinese chip industry in EDA design software may become a more fatal weakness.

American companies can be said to be in an absolute dominant position in the field of EDA design software. It is reported that the Chinese semiconductor industry, including the government, are working hard to solve this problem. One of the key approaches is to poach people from top companies in the industry, such as experienced engineers and executives.

At present, the industry is dominated by four American companies, Synopsys, Cadence Design Systems, Mentor Graphics, and Ansys, accounting for up to 90% of the EDA design software market. Four companies own most of the intellectual property required for chip development.

Well-known consumer electronics companies or semiconductor companies, including global semiconductor giants such as Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, Nvidia, and Micron, are all downstream customers of these four EDA design software companies.

In the context of the Trump administration’s trade war with China, trying to erect a “technical iron curtain”, and even decoupling from the Chinese market, the Chinese industry and government authorities are trying to fill the domestic gap in this field, so as to build a capable To deal with the industrial base that the United States may block in the field of semiconductor technology, it can be said that it is also an inevitable way to go to a certain extent.

However, the first-mover companies represented by Synopsys and other four EDA companies have a deep moat, and it is not easy for China to develop domestic alternative products, especially EDA software products that can be used for the most advanced chip design.

Chinese companies are catching up and poaching people

Beijing Huada Jiutian Software Co., Ltd. (a state-owned enterprise) established in 2009 and Beijing Core Vision Software Technology Co., Ltd. (Cellixsoft) established earlier in 2002 are major local manufacturers of EDA design software in China. The products are obviously not comparable to the industry-leading products exported by American companies such as Synopsys and Kengteng. Primarius Technologies, founded by former Keng Teng executives in 2010, announced on April 2, 2020 that it had completed a series A financing of several hundred million yuan. This round of financing was jointly led by Xingcheng Capital and Intel Capital. cast. Obviously, these domestic EDA design software development companies still have a long way to go if they want to catch up with their American predecessors.

Of course, Chinese industry and government authorities cannot do nothing and sit still. Since September 2019, in the field of EDA design software, at least 3 start-ups (Xinhuazhang, Shanghai Hejian Industrial Software, and Quanxin Zhizao) have been established in China. If you look closely at their executives and engineers, you will find that they are all It is from an American predecessor company.

Take X-Epic Technology (X-Epic), which was established in March 2020 as an example. Its founder Wang Libin worked as a regional sales manager at Synopsys. On August 3 this year, TC Lin, former vice president of Kengteng Electronics, joined the company. Xin Huazhang is the chief scientist. TC Lin has over 30 years of experience in the EDA design software industry. In addition, Tiyen Ye, who will enter Xinhuazhang as the vice president of R&D, is also from Kengteng Electronics.

Shanghai Hejian Industrial Software, which was established in May this year, hired a senior R&D manager of Xinsi in China with nearly 20 years of experience at the end of October. It is reported that the company’s investors include Shanghai State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, Wuyuefeng Capital and the Institute of Microelectronics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Amedac, founded in September, was founded by Chieh Ni, former vice president of Synopsys China. Synopsys holds more than 20% equity of Quanxin Zhizao. Ge Qun, senior vice president of Synopsys Global and legal representative of China Investment (China) Co., Ltd., is a member of the board of directors of Quanxinzhi. Like Shanghai Hejian Industrial Software, Wuyuefeng Capital and the Institute of Microelectronics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences are also important investors in the company.

It can be seen that although China has made progress in the domestic replacement of EDA design software, it is clear that the road ahead is still long…

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