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Electronic Design Automation (EDA) and Electronic Computer-aided Design Software (ECAD) Information

Electronic design automationElectronic design automation (EDA) and electronic computer-aided design software (ECAD) designs and develops electronic systems such as printed circuit boards (PCBs) and integrated circuits (ICs). It allows designers to build out different alternatives and options and compare them to each other. It also generates manufacturing documentation as part of the specification used to source, fabricate, and produce PCBs.

The rapidly growing EDA industry is best understood by looking at the definition of EDA.

Electronics includes anything electronic, from computer chips and cell phones to controls for automobiles, etc. Everything made by the electronics industry results from designers using EDA tools and services.

Design is the part of the production cycle where creativity, ingenuity, and new ideas are most valued. Designers build models to understand the behavior and complex interactions of millions of constituent parts in their designs to ensure completeness, correctness, and manufacturability of the final product. Many of the designers in this field include electrical and software engineers.

Automation demonstrates the increasing complexity in the electronics industry today. This complexity is enabled by Moore's Law (which states that the number of transistors in integrated circuits doubles every 18 months), which drives the need for automation. Engineers need to validate their concepts, model and analyze their designs, and identify and eliminate problems before making production commitments. EDA helps ensure correct designs.

ESD verification flow

A simple ESD verification flow mapped to sample IC design flow.

Image Credit: In Compliance Mag



  • EDA and ECAD software for IC design incorporates modular and digital flows, and encompasses the logic and circuit design methods required by miniaturized electronic components.
  • Design closure, the process by which very large scale integration (VLSI) is modified, is an important feature of EDA software and ECAD software.

  • EDA design flows incorporate post-silicon validation, the final step in electronic design automation and electronic computer-aided design software.

  • ASIC software is used to design electronic chips for specific applications. ASIC designers create functional blocks with known electrical characteristics such as propagation delay, capacitance, and inductance to achieve very high gate density and good electrical performance. Programmable ASICs or field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) offer even higher capacities.
  • FPGA software is a type of electronic design automation (EDA) and electronic computer-aided design software (ECAD) for designing integrated circuits (ICs) in an array of logic cells surrounded by programmable input/output (I/O blocks). FPGAs contain as many as tens of thousands of logic cells and an even greater number of flip-flops.


Selecting EDA and ECAD requires an understanding of IC design principles, floor planning, logic synthesis, behavioral synthesis, and intelligent verification.

  • IC design principles are complex and include such characteristics as tolerance of components, range of values, and technology dependence. For more in-depth information in IC design principles click here.
  • Floor planning is a critical step in the design of a complex system-on-a-chip, as it represents the tradeoffs between marketing objectives and the realities of silicon at the target's process geometry. For more in-depth information on floor planning click here.

floor planning EDA

The use of a placement tool to enable the automatic creation and implementation of on-chip power management.

Image Credit: Electronic Design

  • Logic synthesis is the process by which an abstract form of desired circuit behavior is turned into a design implementation in terms of logic gates, typically by a computer program called a synthesis tool.
  • Behavioral synthesis, also known as high -level synthesis, refers to circuit synthesis from high level languages like ANSI C/C++ or SystemC, whereas logic synthesis refers to synthesis from structural or functional description to RTL.
  • Intelligent verification uses both the design and existing tes tbenches to accelerate verification closure. Intelligent verification approaches direct users as to why certain coverage points are not being met to avoid inefficiencies of constrained random methods by automatically associating target coverage points with relevant input variables. It ensures that no simulation cycles are wasted in verifying items that have already been tested.

Verification Techniques

Verification extracts views of the chip for performance and functionality. It is the stage in the design process where the design is taken back through the same flow for optimization or modification.

  • Clock domain crossing verification (CDC checking) specializes in detecting and presorting potential issues like data loss and meta-stability due to multiple clock domains in the design.
  • Formal verification includes a range of technologies and is critical for the verification flow in a design.
    • Model checking can be further classified into different categories based upon its application, complexity, and benefits.
    • Equivalence checking compares two versions of the design to make sure they are not functionally equivalent.

EDA formal verification

Image Credit: Electronic Design

  • Static timing analysis is the analysis of the timing of a circuit in an input-independent manner, hence finding a worst case over all possible inputs.
  • Physical verification (PV) verifies whether all geometric patterns, circuit timing, and electrical effects satisfy the design rules and specifications. Physical verification processes include:
    • Design rule checkers (DRC) are tools which verify that the layout topology of circuits do not violate any rules associated with the target process technology.

    • Layout extraction is the process of verifying that the layout topology of circuits does not violate any fabrication process rules.


Electronic design automation (EDA) and electronic computer-aided design software (ECAD) must adhere to certain standards and specifications including BS EN 62014-1, which is Part 1 of the Electronic Design Automation Libraries, and IEC/TR 62014-3, which describes models of integrated circuits for behavioral simulation.


Wikipedia: Logic Synthesis

Intelligent Verification

Image credits:

In Compliance Magazine



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