When John Cooley reported the results of his survey on the Springsoft acquisition by Synopsys, the results followed the trend. An impressive 78% of the respondents saw the acquisition as been bad. Not that this would change Synopsys mind, of course. And I am sure that most of these respondents will swallow their opinions and purchase the licenses from those they love to hate: the Synopsys sales force.
Last week I had the opportunity of speaking with Becky Oh, CEO of PNI Sensor Corporation. Those who follow this column know that in the last couple of years I have become interested in the MEMS industry. It all started during the GlobalPress 2011 event, when I listened to a few presentations from MEMS technology companies. This industry is very interesting on a number of dimensions: the semiconductor technology they use, the physics of the devices they produce, the amazing complexities of their micromachines, and the lack of integration tools from EDA companies.
A couple of recent press releases from both Cadence and Synopsys provided information that widens the usability of the 28 nm process to a larger segment of system companies. First Cadence announced success in using its DDR4 design IP in TSMC 28HP and 28HPM processes. Shortly after ward Synopsys wrote that its 28 nm DesignWare IP had been successfully used in more than 30 test chips for the 28 nm process.
Mentor Graphics reported its 2Q13 results and showed that its earnings improved due mostly to a decrease in expenses. Revenues were $240.8 million, up 13% with gains in systems and software, and a very strong showing from the Design to Silicon division, the home of Calibre. This is to be expected, given the major effort from large companies to move to the 20 nm process node. Still the results show that Calibre continues to be the leader in its market segment. Percentage revenue growth for this division is greater than that of Mentor as a whole, showing its critical importance to the company.
There was a time when large companies acquired smaller ones in order to fill the need for a specific product or enter a new promising market. But this is no longer the case in the EDA industry. I do not believe that Synopsys acquired either Ciranova or Springsoft because they were looking for specific technology or products. Pure market reasons are at the base of the acquisitions.
Yesterday I received an email about a panel organized by Jonah McLeod of Kilopass titled: Is Lifecare the Next Killer App?. The panel was moderated by Rick Merritt, EE Times Editor at Large. Kristopher Ardis from Maxim Integrated Products, Fabrice Hoerner from QUALCOMM Inc., and Greg Fawcett from Palo Alto Research Center were the panelists. The email stated that their discussion examined the semiconductor opportunity to facilitate health, energy conservation, safety, and productivity that will improve "Lifecare" for a world population of over 7 billion inhabitants. It had a pointer to a video recording of the entire panel.
In a highly competitive industry, the strong get stronger and the others, well the others survive. With the proposed acquisition of Springsoft, Synopsys will strengthen its position in the design and verification market and also get a boost in the custom IC design market.
Two direct competitors look in danger of loosing market share. Mentor Graphics has seen its position as the leader in digital design and verification slowly erode with increase technology and quality in competing products from Cadence and Synopsys. Now with the Verdi and Siloti products, Synopsys will be even more competitive and the Questa family of products will be under even more pressure. The problem for Mentor is that both of these Springsoft products are practically already integrated in the Synopsys design flow. Thus the usual delay required to integrate technology and development staff will not be significant in the case of this acquisition.
In a piece titled "SemiWiki.com Analytics Exposed" conveniently published on LinkedIn as well as its own masthead Daniel Nenni espoused the growth of his creation and compares it to other publications. You can read it at:
The piece has many problems, but I will just address what I find most egregious.
I am sure most of you by now know that graham Bell, VP of marketing at Real Intent has developed into an accomplished videographer. He has assembled some of his latest videos at YouTube. You can see them at: http://www.youtube.com/realintentvideo.
The fundamental problem with verification is that it is too often seen as separate from design and development. The design and development teams are different from the verification team. The argument is often maid that the teams use different tools and have different skills. I maintain that this is the problem, not the path to a solution.
When verification is part of a design and development process, the integration of the requirements for all of the tasks yields a more robust process and a better product. The question should not be "How do we verify a design" but "how do we design a verifiable product". And then do not ask "how do we verify during development" but instead "how do we develop so that we achieve verified development stages".