This paper assesses large-scale numerical electric machine field analysis software and its feasibility for incorporation into complex electric drive system design loops. An opportunity to develop improved system design tools that meet the exacting standards of modern electric drive systems without sacrificing performance is identified. Two alternative routes to achieving this are discussed, one based on Moore's Law and the other based on improving, updating, and intelligently combining and implementing in hardware the algorithms used in analysis software. An ideal design tool's required properties are enumerated, and the merits and suitability for incorporation into such a tool of both domain- and boundary-based methods are examined. Finally, a hybrid design strategy is proposed that incorporates several of the analysis methods discussed and attempts to utilize the key strengths of each.