Average design cost for basic SoCs across all geometries was $1.7M in 2017, says Semico Research

The semiconductor industry today is faced with several substantial issues-not the least of which are the continuing rise in design costs for complex SoCs, the decrease in the incidence of first-time-right designs and the increase in the design cycle time against shrinking market windows and decreasing product life cycles. An additional factor has now been added to SoC design costs with the emergence of very complicated software applications intended to run on the SoC silicon. The costs of the software effort have outstripped the silicon design costs and have become the major part of the cost of these designs. IP integration is also a growing part of design costs. Semico’s new report SoC Silicon and Software 2018 Design Cost Analysis: How Rising Costs Impact SoC Design Starts addresses these and many other design concerns while reporting that the average design cost for Basic SoCs across all geometries in 2017 was $1.7 million.

“Analysis of design activity for the three types of SoC profiled in this report shows that while design costs at new nodes continue to increase, the average design cost at each node is not increasing as quickly, giving room for designers to still accomplish their silicon solutions at reasonable costs if they are prudent in their design selection,” says Rich Wawrzyniak, Sr. Market Analyst for ASIC & SoC at Semico. “For each of the three types of SoC there is still considerable activity at the older nodes of 90nm, 65nm and 40nm. Costs at these geometries are much less than at 10nm and 7nm so even though these newer designs cost much more, the average for all SoCs has dropped due to the increase in new designs for Basic SoC.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • The average design cost for Value Multicore SoCs across all geometries was $4.8M in 2017.
  • The average design cost for all SoCs across all geometries is forecast to increase to $5.3M by 2023.
  • The number of ‘first-time-right’ designs has dropped at every process geometry since the 180nm node.
  • Silicon design costs at the 7nm node for an Advanced Performance Multicore SoC first-time effort are projected to be 23% higher than at the 10nm node.

In a unique, insightful look at this constantly evolving market, Semico Research’s new report, SoC Silicon and Software 2018 Design Cost Analysis: How Rising Costs Impact SoC Design Starts, examines the primary forces and integration pressures that are driving this market today in 135 pages, with 41 tables and 64 graphs. This study analyzes many important questions facing the semiconductor industry today including:

  • What is the current cost for a Complex System-on-a-Chip (SoC) design, and what will it be in the near future?
  • Is it possible to do SoC designs without maximizing the costs for these designs?
  • What is the incidence of ‘first-time-right’ for these designs today and in the near future?
  • How is the design cycle time for these designs changing?
  • How do complicated software applications impact the design costs?
  • How fast are IP integration costs rising, and how high will they go?
  • What strategies are designers using to cope with rising design costs?
  • What is the average silicon design cost today for each process geometry and SoC type, and how quickly is it rising?
  • What impact will EDA tools that include some artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) functionality have on design costs for complex silicon?


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