Friday, June 11, 2010

Vendors to See, Vendors to Overlook?

I don't mean to become a "riff on John Cooley" blog, but it turns out he's pumped out some provocative missives leading up to next week's Design Automation Conference (DAC). I was about to write a post on "what I'd see at DAC", when along came Cooley's Cheesy Must See List for DAC 2010. Before we review his list, let me offer my own list of interesting products and technologies. This won't be as expansive as John's list, since I spend most of my time using or considering implementation tools.

Intriguing Products

  • Magma Tekton. The tool is targeted to be a better, more modern PrimeTime. Usable as a drop-in replacement, with claimed significant speed and capacity advantages, and attractive added features like SPICE integration and MCMM analysis.
  • Oasys RealTime Designer. I wrote about Oasys last year, when they came out of stealth mode. Now, they're rolling out customer testimonials from Xilinx and Juniper Networks. Harry the ASIC Guy, who's been around the EDA industry, has some interesting theories about where Oasys may find business.

Interesting Technologies

  • Silicon IP. This is the most sure-fire way to develop 45nm and 28nm chips in an economical way. But do you want to become the general contractor for a dozen IP vendors? You may not have to, with consolidation such as Cadence acquiring Denali and Synopsys acquiring Virage Logic.
  • ESL. It's always seemed like a logical step up the abstraction ladder to rise above RTL. There's lots of M&A activity here, with Synopsys and others gobbling up ESL synthesis companies.
  • Variation-Aware Analysis. Will SSTA ever be ready for prime time? It's been the Next Big Thing in EDA for a few years, but there is little PT-VX talk at SNUG, and most of the STA startups are focusing on beating PrimeTime at traditional corner analysis rather than SSTA.
  • Asynchronous Design. I'm intrigued by not having to synchronize a clock across a chip, and hardening cross-chip interfaces to variation. But I've seen little in the way of IP or automation to realize such unconventional design techniques. Are there any vendors out there? Who are the academic research leaders?

The Cheesy List

I do admire John Cooley's list for its breadth. For the most part, I think he hits the major players in each area and captures the talking points that they're featuring for this DAC.

With one notable exception. Did you notice that his list doesn't feature a certain EDA company that's hard to overlook? That's right, Synopsys. He doesn't feature one Synopsys product in his list! That's a curious oversight to me. While I do think that much of EDA innovation comes from smaller companies, Synopsys does hold its own in innovation compared to Cadence or Mentor, but those companies did have featured products in John's list. Are John and Synopsys having a spat, or is he getting ready to roll out his exclusive must-see Synopsys list?


Anonymous said...

It is good to see more and more blogs calling cooley for what he really is. Some of the postings on his site would make you think some "xyz" PR guy in Magma now works for Atoptech. you can look at the post, its organization and language and esily conclude that the same guy has been posting multiple "customer reviews". it just seems that he changed the companies.

Ahran Dunsmoor said...

John, Great list of technologies to check out at DAC! There is one STA startup addressing variation-aware STA, though. Check out Amber Path FX from CLK Design Automation. We've figured out how to get the benefits of SSTA without all of the hassle that's plagued statistical timing in the past.

Our statistical FXM libraries take only hours to characterize and pre-built statistical libraries are available through TSMC. Amber Path FX's Variation Solver provides SPICE accuracy for delay and statistical variation extremely fast so that the results can be incorporated into your current design flow.

And finally, Amber Path FX works with PrimeTime instead of trying to replace your whole STA flow.

Feel free to find us at DAC or visit our web site -