The chip design national team is here, can it push away the black hand that is holding Huawei’s neck?

The road to the market of the mother of chips

EDA used to be a very unfamiliar concept to many people, but after Huawei was sanctioned, this industry, known as the “mother of chip design”, became a topic that ordinary people were also talking about-it was a “stuck neck” in the chip field. As a typical representative of the current market share, the domestic and international EDA market is absolutely dominated by the three international giants Synopsys, Cadence and Siemens EDA.

However, at the end of June, two Chinese EDA companies officially entered the listing process, and the battle for the first share of domestic EDA also began. And this gives people an opportunity to objectively explore the true strength of domestic EDA.

Why is EDA important?

What is the most afraid of chip design companies?

In the context of the lack of cores this year, I am afraid that many people will say that the chip design company cannot reserve the capacity of the fab to help its tapeout. This answer is half right. For IC design companies with limited financial strength, it is even more important. What I am afraid of is the failure of tape-out.

In other words, not being able to make an appointment is just a “special problem” under core shortage, and tapeout failure is a common problem that has always existed. After all, the cost of tape-out is expensive, and there are not a few chip companies that have closed down due to several tape-out failures in history.

The key to the success of tapeout lies in whether the design of the internal structure of the chip is reasonable.

In the past, designers had to manually complete chip design and wiring. However, as the chip manufacturing process becomes more and more advanced, its internal complexity has also increased geometrically. For IC designers, both the workload and the difficulty of the work Increasing day by day, this objectively requires IC designers to use auxiliary tools to solve this problem, and EDA (Electronic Design Automation) has also emerged.

Specifically, EDA refers to a design method that uses computer-aided design software to complete the functional design, synthesis, verification, and physical design of VLSI chips. It can increase the efficiency of chip design by hundreds of times. Because EDA tools are becoming more and more perfect, the probability of chip design companies’ tapeout failures is greatly reduced.

Looking at the data more bluntly, a professional organization has made an estimate that in 2011, if an SoC design of about 40 million US dollars does not use EDA tools, its cost will rise to a staggering 700 million US dollars. Therefore, this EDA, which only accounts for about 3% of the global integrated circuit industry, is known as the mother of chip design. It can be said that without EDA, there would be no today’s highly complex and sophisticated integrated circuits.

Domestic EDA giants still need government subsidies

At the end of June this year, the prospectus submitted by Huada Jiutian, which is known as my country’s leading EDA company, and Shanghai Gelun Electronics, another EDA company, have been accepted by the competent unit. So, what is the quality of our domestic EDA today?

Huada Jiutian is a veteran enterprise in my country’s EDA industry. Although the company was established in May 2009, some of its initial team members came from Beijing IC Design Center (later renamed China Huada IC Design Center) and participated in China’s first The research and development of a full-process EDA system with independent intellectual property rights-“Panda ICCAD System”. The current chairman of Huada Jiutian, Dr. Weiping Liu, has been in Beijing IC Design Center since August 1989, and then joined the company’s EDA department independently (now Huada Jiutian) and came to his current post. He is an out-and-out EDA expert. .

Therefore, BGI has a pure state-owned pedigree. The company undertakes the R&D task of the 2008 National Science and Technology Major Project “Core Electronic Devices, High-end General Chips and Basic Software Products”, including another EDA enterprise that is currently sprinting into the Sci-tech Innovation Board. Gelun Electronics, founded in 2010, can be said to be promoted by the country’s special policies.

Source Huada Jiutian Prospectus
Source Huada Jiutian Prospectus

In terms of main business, although both companies sell EDA tools and technology development services to downstream manufacturers, the differences are also obvious. Huada Jiutian has achieved full-process tool coverage in analog circuit design and flat panel display circuit design, and GALUN Electronics focuses on design-process collaborative optimization (DTCO) methodology, focusing on tools in specific segments, and opening up the market in market segments .

That is, one big and complete, one fine and fine.

In terms of revenue, during the reporting period from 2018 to 2020, Huada’s nine-day operating income was 151 million yuan, 257 million yuan, and 415 million yuan respectively; net profits were 48.519 million yuan, 57.157 million yuan and 104 million yuan, respectively. The operating income of General Lun Electronics was 5,114,600 yuan, 65,486,600 yuan, and 13,478,32 million yuan; its net profits were -7.9932 million yuan, -87,736,200 yuan, and 27,891,700 yuan, respectively.

Although Huada Jiutian’s revenue is significantly better than that of Prolun Electronics, there is a common problem in the chip industry: Huada Jiutian still needs a large amount of government subsidies.

According to the prospectus of Huada Jiutian, the government subsidies included in other income of the company during the reporting period were 43.892 million yuan, 54.302 million yuan and 70.405.57 million yuan, accounting for 90.46%, 95.00% and 67.99% of the total profits of the current period. The proportion of government subsidies is relatively high. The main contents of government subsidies are software product value-added tax refunds and EDA project subsidies.

EDA is a large-scale algorithm-intensive industrial software system and a typical technology-intensive industry. The development process requires high-end talents in various disciplines and professions such as computers, mathematics, physics, electronic circuits, and technology, which requires EDA companies to invest more in product upgrades and research and development costs. In the three years from 2018 to 2020, BGI’s R&D expenses accounted for 49.81%, 52.50%, and 44.22% of operating income, respectively. The R&D investment of GALUN Electronics accounted for 51.16%, 361.94%, and 38.91% of operating income, respectively.


The status of the EDA industry is closely related to the development of the integrated circuit industry. In recent years, the global integrated circuit industry has basically maintained a stable and positive development trend, and the total sales of global EDA tools have also maintained a steady increase. In 2020, the total sales will be 7.23 billion US dollars, a year-on-year increase of 10.7%. The total annual sales of my country’s EDA industry in 2020 will be approximately 6.62 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 19.9%, achieving continuous growth. Among them, the operating income of my country’s independent EDA tool companies in the local market is about 760 million yuan, a year-on-year increase of 65.2%.

Although my country’s EDA industry is in the process of vigorous development, the domestic and international EDA markets are still absolutely dominated by the international Big Three, Synopsys, KD Electronics, and Siemens EDA, and the Big Three can provide a complete set of chip design EDA solutions.

According to CCID Think Tank data, about 80% of the domestic EDA market sales in 2020 will be occupied by the international Big Three. Domestic EDA suppliers currently occupy a relatively small market share. Even BGI, a leading domestic EDA company, will only occupy about 6% of the domestic EDA market in 2020, far behind the international Big Three.

How to catch up?

After Huawei was sanctioned by the United States, the three major manufacturers no longer updated its EDA version and follow-up services, which made it difficult for HiSilicon to continue its research and development. BGI has not made a breakthrough in the advanced process technology below 16nm and cannot provide software technology for Huawei. support. So for Chinese EDA companies, what is the difficulty in catching up with the world’s leading EDA companies?

From the perspective of the development history of the international EDA Big Three, the first is the scale effect.

These three companies have more than 30 years of development history, and each have carried out more than 50 mergers and acquisitions. Among them, Synopsys has become the world’s largest EDA company through more than 100 mergers and acquisitions, and has built a relatively high ecological system. Barriers, which caused the world’s chip giants, including Apple, Qualcomm, and Intel, to purchase software and services from several of the three major manufacturers.

The second is the synergy of the industrial chain. EDA tools are closely related to downstream chip manufacturing processes. The results of EDA tool simulation are closely related to the specific process details of the chip manufacturing company. This requires mutual verification between the theoretical model and the process results. When the foundry develops a new process, the EDA tool software manufacturer needs to obtain the new process of the foundry. Based on the relevant data of, we will develop a new version.

Therefore, in order to support the most advanced process nodes, EDA tool software must maintain close cooperation with the foundry, develop corresponding algorithms and models according to the process characteristics of the foundry, and realize the progress of its own products and technologies in this process. The growth of leading EDA companies is accompanied by close exchanges with major chip manufacturers around the world.

It can be said that the advanced process capability of my country’s wafer foundries in the future determines the advanced level of my country’s EDA tool software.

Finally, the most critical point. After all, EDA is a link in the semiconductor industry chain. The development and growth of EDA companies in my country cannot be separated from market demand and profitability. Although policies and subsidies are an important part of the development of EDA companies that were weak in the early stage, how to survive and profit independently in the market This is an issue that needs to be considered even more after the state-owned EDA companies complete the listing step by step.

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