Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cadence integrates chip planning with implementation!

Last month, Cadence Design Systems Inc. unveiled an integrated chip planning and implementation solution. This has been achieved through the integration of Cadence InCyte Chip Estimator and the Cadence Encounter Digital Implementation (EDI) System technologies.

Cadence has called this breakthrough solution, which provides design and implementation engineers with superior visibility and predictability of chip performance, area, power consumption, cost, and time to market across the full range of design activities, including system-level design and IP selection through final implementation and signoff.

I got into a brief conversation with Adam Traidman, Group Marketing Director, Cadence, Dave Desharnais, Product Marketing Group Director, Cadence, and Rahul Arya, Director, Marketing & Technology Sales, Cadence Design Systems India Pvt Ltd.

EDA industry revenue dips 10.7 percent in Q1-09
By the way, the EDA Consortium (EDAC) Market Statistics Service (MSS) today announced that the EDA industry revenue for Q1 2009 declined 10.7 percent to $1192.1 million, compared to $1334.2 million in Q1 2008, driven primarily by an accounting shift at one major EDA company. The four-quarter moving average declined 11.3 percent.

"The business environment remained difficult for EDA as for other industries, with Q1 EDA revenues declining in all regions except Asia Pacific," said Walden C. Rhines, EDA Consortium chair and Mentor Graphics CEO and chairman. "Nevertheless, for Q1, the overall decline was less than for the previous quarter."

Back to the current discussion then! It'd be interesting to see how all these tools bring the EDA industry back above the red level!

Why this solution?
The obvious question, why the Integrated Chip Planning and Implementation Solution now?

Adam Traidman said that the Chip Estimator is quite unique! It helps customers early in the IC design cycle.

"We go beyond EDA and estimate cost, etc. We help the designers to do an early architectural level ecomnomical and techical analysis and estimation, etc. Statistics show that during the early phases of design, those decisions can contribute to 80 percent of final design. Today, very few EDA companies provide set of tools and methodologies that allow such trade-off," he added.

According to him, every customer does this analysis, probably, manually. Cadence is now automating this method. In this respect, it has integrated chip planning with implementation.

"The results of the analysis -- you are concerned about accuracy; you look to the EDA vendors to help converge from initial implementation to the actual convergence. Think of it like a cockpit for the design engineer, general manager, program manager, etc.," he noted.

"You've made all the fundamental decisions, etc. If you're sitting on the physical implementation tool, and you need think through the implications that can be there. For example, to re-synthesize new libraries, etc. We are talking about chip planning at a much, much higher level," added Traidman.

Helping with IP selection!
The Cadence solution also leverages the vast ecosystem of IP at the portal where over 200 IP suppliers and foundries contribute data. Helping with IP selection has been mentioned among the processes, perhaps, an indicator that designers may have not been able to select the right IPs all this while.

According to Traidman, IP selection and qiuality are key issues. "A lot of people, doing these tradeoffs, could be design managers, general manager, etc. When they sit with this tool, and when it pops up, they can see a huge library of 7,000 IPs from about 200 IP suppliers and foundries. Any design team can view all of the IPs as a free service," he elaborated. By the way, ChipEstimate is owned by Cadence!

He further added that the ChipEstimate portal allows customers to lower the risks of converging. The portal has been growing since 2006, and receives 1 million page view each month.

Just for interest's sake, there's another site -- Design And Reuse -- that claims to be the world's largest directory of 8,000 silicon IPs from more than 400 vendors! I have also got into some other discussions -- that are ongoing -- for developing a similar site in India, for the Indian semiconductor industry!

What about Cadence Encounter?
Post the integration, what happens now to the Cadence Encounter solution and whether it is still available standalone?

Dave Desharnais said the Cadence Encounter solution is still available standalone. "We have integrated some key functions from InCyte. From InCyte, you would normally not have the link to get into physical implementation. Likewise, with feeding back of a fully realized database," he said.

Last December (2008), Cadence had announced the Encounter Digital Implementation System, a next generation complete RTL-to-GDSII solution for logic and physical implementation.

Along with a fundamental new memory architecture and end-to-end multicore backplane to address the requirements of leapfrog capacity and faster turnaround time for billion transistor designs, it also delivers complete implementation and signoff-in-the-loop for low power, mixed signal, and advanced node design; including the latest 28nm process node where it has been used on over half of the designs being done at this node today.

As per Rahul Arya, since the initial launch, there has been significant usage and endorsement from the world's largest semiconductor companies, including ST, Toshiba, NEC, NXP, Fujitsu, AMD, and many more that are requested as non-public endorsements.

He added: "The announcement of InCyte and EDI System integration brings a whole new dimension for both system-level and design implementation teams. While both solutions -- InCyte and EDI System -- are still available as standalone, using both solutions together enables designers at all levels to now have complete visibility into all aspects of the design -- from system level architecture requirements and IP selection, to full physical floorplanning, final low power and implementation signoff results.

"The bringing together of both of these solutions delivers literally unprecedented predictability, visibility, and accuracy into all steps of the chip creation and implementation flow for faster design convergence."

The design solution will be demonstrated at the Design Automation Conference (DAC 2009) in San Francisco this month and made available later this year.

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