Today, everywhere we turn we hear speakers give presentations at conferences and industry events despairing how the rise in silicon design costs is hampering the semiconductor industries growth path. As part of this problem, we now recognize that software design costs have eclipsed silicon design efforts and have become the largest portion of the SoC creation effort. In addition, IP integration costs are now rising as more discrete IP blocks are infused into SoC designs today.
The design landscape has also changed due to rising design complexity and lengthening design cycle times, especially in the System-on-a-Chip (SoC) market. These changes are having an impact on the SoC Design Start market delaying and preventing, to some degree, the architectural refreshes silicon designers undertake periodically to bring their solutions into line with changing market requirements and rising customer expectations.
Semico Research Corp. has looked at these issues and their impact on SoC silicon and software design cost efforts and encapsulated these changes and trends in a new report titled: SoC Silicon and Software Design Cost Analysis: Costs for Higher Complexity Continue to Rise, May, 2013.
Forecasts for SoC silicon design costs and software design costs are given from the 90nm node out through the 10nm node focusing on Advanced Performance Multicore SoCs, Value Multicore SoCs and Basic SoCs. Categories of effort with definitions for silicon and software designs are established with a forecast given at each node for the three types of SoC silicon. A forecast for Derivative SoC design costs at the 28nm node from 2011 through 2017 is also given.
Some of the data discussed in 58 pages with 15 tables and 33 graphs are:
- Total SoC design costs increased 48 percent from the 28nm node to the 20nm node and are expected to increase 31 percent again at the 14nm node and 35 percent at the 10nm node.
- Total SoC silicon design costs increased 78 percent at the 28nm node from the 40nm node.
- Total Software design costs increased 102 percent at the 28nm node and are forecast to show a CAGR of 79 percent through the 10nm node.
- Advanced Performance Multicore SoCs represent the most expensive silicon designs with Value Multicore SoCs and Basic SoCs exhibiting lower design costs.
- Derivative SoC silicon designs allow designers to accomplish their solutions at a fraction of the cost compared to first time efforts at the same process node when it first becomes commercially available.
- Costs for an Advanced Performance Multicore SoC design, continuously done at the 45nm node will experience a negative CAGR of 12.7 percent by the time the 14nm process geometry becomes commercially available, showing that subsequent designs at the same node become less expensive over time.
- 20nm silicon with a $20.00 ASP is required to ship 9.238M units to reach the breakeven point.
- The cost to integrate all the discrete IP blocks used in contemporary SoC designs is also rising for both the silicon and software efforts, showing a CAGR of 77.2 percent.
- Discussion of initiatives by EDA vendors to create tools allowing software designers to reduce design costs and more fully integrate their effort with silicon designers.