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Spreadsheets: Still Valuable, But More Limited

Chip design complexity is overwhelming them, and they are prone to errors. However, they’re still useful for some jobs.

Semiconductor Engineering


Spreadsheets have been an invaluable engineering tool for many aspects of semiconductor design and verification, but their inability to handle complexity is squeezing them out of an increasing number of applications.

This is raising questions about whether they still have a role, and if so, how large that role will be. There are two sides to this issue. On one side are the users who see them as providing a quick, easy, and cheap way to capture, store and perform limited amounts of analysis on data. On the other side are EDA vendors, which have developed an extensive array of specialized tools capable of taking over when spreadsheets are no longer up to the task….

Many of us continue to use spreadsheets personally. “Spreadsheets are a fundamental tool in the engineer’s toolbox,” says Simon Davidmann, founder and CEO for Imperas Software. “I see them used in many different ways, from simple things like a checklists, all the way to being utilized as a verification plan. For example, when someone builds a RISC-V core, we want to know how their model is configured. It’s a way of storing data and conveying information. The tabular, columnar format is perfect for static types of engineering information.”…


To read the full Semiconductor Engineering article by Brian Bailey, click here.