What is EDA – Electronic Design Automation?

Electronic Design Automation (EDA) means using software to automate the design of electronic systems.

It applies to the design of electronic circuits whether at the chip, PCB or system level. This software may run on PCs, workstations or in the cloud. Typical EDA tools include those:

  • to capture the design source whether in the form of a language description such as an architectural description, RTL or a schematic
  • simulation tools whether digital, analog or mixed-signal
  • other analysis tools such as static timing, power, manufacturability or testability analysis
  • other verification tools such as formal verification, HW/SW co-simulation

A closely related term is CAD (Computer Aided Design) which generally relates to physical design in two or three dimensions. CAD is more broadly applied than EDA and can refer to the design of mechanical systems as well as electrical systems such as PCBs or chip physical layouts.

Some highly specialized EDA tools exist for very specialized design including processor design automation, for example Codasip Studio, or for the design of radio frequency systems.

Codasip glossary - image for EDA

Why use Electronic Design Automation?

While hand design was possible for simpler circuits half a century or more ago, most integrated circuits (IC) have been sufficiently complex to require design automation. For example, the behavior of devices such as transistors on an IC are heavily dependent on the process technology used. The famous SPICE circuit simulator was released in 1973.

Today integrated circuit design is orders of magnitude more complex than then with billions of transistors on the most complex digital devices. The design and verification of such complex circuits can only be managed through sophisticated EDA tools.

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