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Design Automation Conference

SAN FRANCISCO — No term was thrown around at design conferences or events in 2005 more than the ubiquitous, but vaguely defined “design-for-manufacturing” (DFM). The term was used so often, and so loosely, that many openly wondered whether the acronym actually stands for “design-for-marketing.” But, experts agree, behind the DFM hype are very real problems that must be solved at the 65-nanometer node.
“A lot of companies are claiming that they are putting a lot of research into how to attack [the DFM] market,” said Nancy Wu, principal analyst at Gartner Dataquest (San Jose, Calif.), who added that she does not at this point see a lot of companies with sizeable DFM marketshare. “However, this is a topic that is getting really serious when we get into the 65- and 45- nanometer nodes. If it can’t be resolved at 65- and 45- nanometer, there will be serious production yield problems.”

Alluding to the hype that has surrounded DFM all year, Wu said many of the so-called DFM tools and technologies that got a lot of attention in 2005 where actually more design-for-test (DFT) focused. DFT has been around for a number of years, she said, and Gartner Dataquest saw relatively few true DFM tools focused on bridging the worlds of design and manufacturing.

Risto Puhakka, president of VLSI Research Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.), agreed that a lot of the DFM talk in 2005 was marketing-driven hype. But, like Wu, he acknowledged that behind all the smoke there is a very real fire.

”It is very clear that DFM-type techniques and technologies are needed,” Puhakka said. “If you look at the IDMS [integrated device manufacturers], they have been addressing these issues internally for years. They have the sort of procedures in place that you can say are DFM techniques. Suddenly, the fabless and foundry world found out that things are going to be a little more difficult going from 130- to 90-nanometer. That’s where the commercial side of things emerged very rapidly.”