China aims to shake US grip on chip design tools

Veteran engineers and high-level executives are leaving top US chip design toolmakers for Chinese rivals as Beijing seeks to break America’s near monopoly on this key segment of the semiconductor industry.

Three Chinese start-ups established since September last year were founded by or have hired executives and engineers from Synopsys and Cadence Design Systems of the US, the world’s two biggest makers of electronic design automation (EDA) tools, as such software is known.

The start-ups include Nanjing-based X-Epic, Shanghai Hejian Industrial Software and Hefei-based Advanced Manufacturing EDA Co, or Amedac, in which Synopsys owns a stake.

The push to recruit US chip tool talent comes as Washington’s crackdown on Huawei Technologies exposes key weaknesses in China’s chipmaking ecosystem, including in EDA tools, which are used to design integrated circuits, printed circuit boards and other electronic systems.

The US has long dominated the segment, with Synopsys, Cadence, Mentor Graphics and Ansys

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