Key Takeaways:

  • IC design software includes tools for schematic capture, floorplanning, routing, and verification.

  • Cadence, Mentor Graphics, and Synopsys are leading providers of IC design software.

  • Cloud-based IC design solutions are emerging, offering flexibility and scalability.

  • Open-source IC design tools are becoming increasingly popular for research and non-commercial use.

  • AI-powered IC design tools are revolutionizing the industry, promising increased efficiency and innovation.

What is IC Design Software?

IC (integrated circuit) design software encompasses a comprehensive suite of computer-aided design (CAD) tools used in the design and verification of integrated circuits. These electronic circuits are the fundamental building blocks of modern electronics, found in everything from smartphones to satellites. IC design software enables engineers to create the layout, or blueprint, of an IC, which specifies the placement of transistors, wires, and other components on a silicon chip.

Schematic Capture

The first step in IC design is schematic capture, where engineers create a diagram representing the electrical connections and functionality of the circuit. IC design software like Cadence’s OrCAD and Altium Designer provide tools for creating and modifying schematics, offering libraries of pre-designed symbols and templates to accelerate the process.


Once the schematic is complete, the next step is floorplanning, which determines the physical arrangement of circuit elements on the silicon chip. IC design software like Mentor Graphics’ Calibre and Synopsys’ IC Compiler help engineers optimize the floorplan for performance, area, and power consumption.


Routing involves connecting the components on the chip with wires to complete the circuit. IC design software like Cadence’s Allegro and Synopsys’ PrimeTime provide algorithms and tools for automatic and manual routing, ensuring that the wires do not overlap or violate design rules.


Before the design is sent to fabrication, it must be thoroughly verified to ensure its correctness and functionality. IC design software like Cadence’s Incisive and Mentor Graphics’ Questa provide tools for simulation, logical equivalence checking, and other verification tasks, reducing the risk of errors and costly rework.

Emerging Trends

The IC design industry is constantly evolving, with new trends shaping the future of the field.

  • Cloud-based IC Design: Cloud solutions are gaining popularity, offering flexibility, scalability, and access to advanced tools for distributed teams.

  • Open-source IC Design Tools: Open-source projects like SkyWater PDK and Google’s OpenROAD are empowering researchers and non-commercial users with access to affordable and customizable tools.

  • AI-powered IC Design: AI is revolutionizing IC design by automating tasks, optimizing designs, and enabling real-time design analysis, promising significant efficiency gains and innovation.

In 2023, the global IC design software market was valued at $7.5 billion and is projected to grow to $12.2 billion by 2024, highlighting the increasing demand for these tools as the electronics industry continues to expand.

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