Open Source ASIC Design

For decades the EDA landscape was dominated by the big 3. There were some attempts to develop opensource EDA tools, but these were playthings for teaching purpose. Not something that can actually be used by the industry.

In the past few years the landscape started changing.

These toolsets resulted in evolution of ASIC design services companies like Dyumnin Semiconductors which use opensource tools to provide Design, Verification and Validation services to Early Stage Startup's.

A Complete design workflow based around free/Opensource tools allows the Silicon Startup to have the same burn rate as a software startup and to prototype their idea and bring their design close to tapeout without burning a singnificant portion of their investment in EDA Tools.

Investment in Silicon startup's had nearly dried out in the past decade as the investment in a Silicon Startup was more than 10 times the investment in any other startup. An Entrepruner might have an innovative idea or algorithm which may at most take a few hundred thousands of gates. But in order to make a viable complete product he requires over a dozen other components(e.g. processor, memory controller, communication IP's, NOC etc.) Each requiring a license fee running in 100K+

Even though the mask costs run in millions, the cost of IP's, EDA tools, Design and verification outweigh the mask cost by a factor of up to 10. To some extent OpenCores helps bridge the IP Gap.

The support Question.

A Major problem with open source tools is support. While iverilog and gtkwave are healthy projects. The university projects built around them like covered and Vermin suffer from "bit rot". e.g.

In such cases unless someone steps up to own the code base and maintain it, the project overtime becomes useless.

An ecosystem where a university or a commercial company is willing to support and extend Opensource IP's will reduce the cost of bringing a new chip to the market.