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Renesas Design Corporation (abbreviated below as RDC) is the only company in the Renesas group dedicated to design. The company has expertise in microcomputer, system-on-chip (SoC), and mixed-signal design technology, and is actively involved in the development of system LSI devices that combine these technologies. With a department responsible for the development and support of design automation tools, the company also provides dependable support for chip designers.

Company president Hirokazu Harima said, "As a team of design professionals, we are always seeking to perfect our technology. We aim to ensure that RDC gains more strength in advanced capabilities and continues to expand a track record of technical and business successes."


Hirokazu Harima
Renesas Design Corporation


Renesas Design Corporation

Headquarters: 3-1-17 Chuo, Itami-shi, Hyogo Prefecture 664-0851
Management: Hirokazu Harima, President
Established: April 1st, 2005 (by the merger of Renesas LSI Design Corporation and Renesas Device Design Corporation)
Capital: 400,000,000 Yen (100% owned by Renesas Electronics Corporation)
Employees: 800 (approx.)
URL: http://www.rdc.renesas.com/
Involved in everything from product planning to production and sales; contributing to design and development in its many different forms

Edge: What is the nature of your business?

Harima: Renesas Design Corporation, which we abbreviate as RDC, is the only semiconductor design company in the Renesas group dedicated to design. RDC's business can be explained from a number of different perspectives. In terms of the different product and support categories, our primary business is the design and development of system LSI products, mainly system-on-chip (SoC) devices and mixed-signal ICs. Our other business areas include the development and support of electronic design automation (EDA) tools for LSI semiconductors, the development of EDA software, and manufacturing-oriented support based on semiconductor production equipment technology.

Another way of looking at the role of our company is to break it down into three different business models based on the scope of the work being performed, whether this is product planning and design, production, or sales. Our first business model takes the form of a "virtual department" that undertakes the work for a particular product, from marketing through to manufacturing and sales support, particularly design, with staff seconded from Renesas Electronics. Products such as 4-bit, 8-bit, and 16-bit microcomputers for consumer electronics are handled in this way under contract to RDC, as are motor-driver ICs for optical disk drives (ODDs) and digital still cameras (DSCs).

Our second business model applies when we are contracted by Renesas Electronics to handle the entire design process for a particular product. In this case, we take responsibility for everything from front-end design through to back-end design.

Finally, our third business model encompasses the situation in which we are contracted to perform part of a design. This might involve us handling part of the design process or working on different elements of the design separately. We might also be involved with the development of IP (circuit blocks) used in system LSI chips. We engineer USB circuits, standard I/O, custom I/O, and mixed SRAM for SoC devices, for example.

Edge: What are the strengths of RDC?

Harima: As a specialist semiconductor design company, our greatest strength is the comprehensive support we provide. Recent large-scale system LSI products have started to combine microcomputers, SoC devices, and mixed-signal technology, and it is no longer possible to separate these cleanly into standalone blocks. However, because RDC has design and development skills in each of these areas, it is easy for us to work on these integrated products. For example, we developed a mixed-signal LSI for optical hand-shake correction in digital still cameras (DSCs) by combining our motor-driver design technology, SoC design technology, and microcomputer design technology.

In terms of the different product categories, our motor-driver design technology is particularly advanced and very successful. Devices designed by RDC hold more than 50 percent of the international market for the motor drivers used in ODDs. Further, the devices we have designed hold over 60 percent of the market for DSC motor drivers.

We also have microcomputer design technology that can provide customers with products ranging from 4-bit chips to 16-bit devices. Our capability makes a major contribution to Renesas' number one position in the international microcomputer market. We have a long track record in the field of SoC design, too. Another technology in which we have great strength is back-end place-and-route (P&R) design.

Other strong points of RDC include our EDA department and software development department. It is very valuable for chip designers to be able to obtain appropriate support from within the company.


Organizational structure of Renesas Design

Working hard to improve design efficiency with an approach to design that emphasizes productivity

Edge: Please tell us your thoughts on current trends and issues in the field of semiconductor design technology.

Harima: Three trends have been noted in the past — higher performance, larger capacity, and shorter design times — and they are likely to continue. These trends can be seen as a permanent feature as the semiconductor industry continues to grow.

In terms of semiconductor design methodologies, the technologies that are becoming more important include design-verification technologies for using various types of IP in development, technologies for reusing IP, and bus-platform technologies. Another is technology for raising the level of abstraction in design; that is, moving from logical synthesis to operational synthesis.

Alongside these trends to greater design efficiency, another recent trend has been the spread of the designing-for-manufacturability (DFM) concept. In the past, factors such as timing convergence and signal integrity were important design issues. With the recent advances in miniaturization, these factors have also been joined by a strong demand for an approach to design that recognizes the importance of improving production yield.

Edge: What measures do you see as being required?

Harima: RDC has products that cross the range of business processes in the same way as our departments. Therefore, we already have the prerequisites for taking account of manufacturability in design. As a result, a feature of our business is that it is very easy for us to adopt the DFM approach.

Another in-house issue for RDC is how to manage the process of selecting the best design methodology for each product. For example, the number of models of microcomputers managed by RDC has grown enormously in recent times and there is a demand for new models to be released quickly. To cut production costs, it is important to shrink the silicon area of semiconductor devices as much as possible. We put a heavy focus on hard-macro design in order to minimize the silicon area. However, this work takes a certain amount of time to perform.

If we are to give priority to the early release of new products, then changing to a soft-macro methodology makes the design process much faster. Accordingly, we need to balance our approach carefully, using soft macros to develop large numbers of products in a short time frame, while saving the development of hard macros for products that have a long life cycle or require particularly high operating performance.


Design office at Renesas Design Corporation

Aiming for maximum efficiency across the Renesas group

Edge: What sort of interaction do you have with the rest of the Renesas Group?

Harima: It is important for RDC to generate value for the group as a whole, not just for our company on its own. Thus, we work hard to manage the division of responsibilities and our interaction with the wider group in a way that delivers the maximum overall efficiency. Of course, we have strong links with the business departments and technology departments of Renesas covering a wide range of areas. In the area of IP, for example, we are jointly developing circuits such as mixed SRAM, standard I/O, custom I/O, analog modules, and USB.

We also work closely with Renesas Solutions (RSO), which provides application-engineering services for semiconductor products. In the area of production support, we work with Renesas Semiconductor Engineering (RSE) alongside Renesas Electronics.

Edge: Will you please describe your overall organization?

Harima: We are made up of four departments and three groups (see Figure). The departments are the No. 1 System LSI Department, No. 2 System LSI Department, No. 3 System LSI Department, and Administrative Support Department. The three System LSI departments handle the design and development of SoC devices, mixed-signal devices, and microcomputers, respectively. The reason we have not called these the "SoC Design Department" or "Microcomputer Design Department" and so on is because we see a time in the not too distant future when we will no longer be able to differentiate between SoC devices and microcomputers.

The Administrative Support Department handles the planning, administration, and accounting. We gave it this name because its ultimate role is to support the company's engineering activities.

In addition, RDC also has three other groups. The EDA Technology Group undertakes EDA development and support and the Software Development Group creates software. The Equipment Design Group primarily provides production support and works to improve semiconductor production equipment. These groups report directly to the president.

Edge: What developments are you planning for the future?

Harima: In the semiconductor industry, issues such as marketing decisions about which LSI to develop are likely to become increasingly important, as are decisions about the IP and software that provide the foundations for LSI development. On the other hand, design methodologies and techniques that have been carried over from the past will remain in use. Against this background, it is our responsibility at RDC, as the only specialist design company in the Renesas group, to steadfastly carry forward the necessary design technologies from the past to the future.

To achieve this we need to further perfect our technology in our role as a team of design professionals. This means we must steadily accumulate design technologies and strive to improve our design efficiency. I hope we can grow to become an even more formidable company than we already are, so that people will say, "Renesas Design is the archetypal design company."

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