At DAC 2000 in New Orleans, I came upon a spritely elderly lady named Hilary Kahn, who introduced me to what she and her students had done at the University of Manchester with the EDIF 4.0 standard. Perhaps there was a pre-Harry Potter spell that she cast onto my inquisitive mind, but I actually saw mechanical and electrical tools (although they were the lesser EDA tools of the day) interact with the same design data for their specific engineering needs. This integration was not at the scale of my white paper, but I believed in the goodness of a more integrated design environment than what was currently commercially available.
When I approached a major EDA tool vendor at that show about what they were working on to integrate this standard, I was greeted with a stern, “We will never consider it, because we cannot expose our proprietary IP!” Although I understood the IP argument made complete business sense, I still believed at some point in the future that the engineering masses, the merging EDA companies, and the power of computers and networks would be at a state where all of these current barriers would be gone.
In the 2000s, all of these barriers did erode. Even the claim that EDA proprietary IP was sacred is no longer valid, as major companies have switched from one EDA vendor to another on multiple tools. Companies have recreated their IP on to their new EDA systems, and have now gone forward designing products with their new EDA vendors’ tools and their IP.
But despite all of this progress, a true MCAD-ECAD collaborative integrated design process tool environment has never materialized. In the simplest Dr. Phil terminology, EDA vendors still don’t get it.
The goal of the following roadmap is to create a complete bi-directional, fully integrated tool within the next five years. By 2020, a true cost-affordable MCAD-ECAD tool needs to be available to every project engineering team.
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This column originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of The PCB Design Magazine.