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Archive for July, 2015

A Point to Ponder from Gary Smith’s DAC Presentation

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Gabe Moretti, Senior Editor

The integration of electrical and mechanical tools is one of the subjects that Gary Smith covered in his presentation at this year’s DAC.  It is clear that we are finally reaching an understanding among EDA analysts that a system is more than just its electronic and electrical portions.  Gary suggested that an ideal integration of electronic and mechanical tools could be achieved through  acquisitions.

To Gary, who was a fervent supporter of EDA, the ideal situation would be for EDA companies to acquire companies that offer mechanical and structural development tools.  And clearly this is an option.  But integrating mechanical design automation tools with electrical and electronic DA tools through corporate collaboration is also a possible solution.  By integration I do not mean building one tool that supports both electronic and mechanical design.  I mean creating a family of products that share data and are supported by one organization.  The centralized support is critical to avoid misunderstanding of problems that can arise from improper integration of tools.  I know at least three companies that already offer some levels of such integration: Ansys, Mathworks, and Mentor.

Ansys is an example of a company that started supporting system design with tools dealing with mechanical and physical problems and then that acquired companies dealing with electrical and electronic problems.  Today it offers integrated support to system designers and developers that span the entire product development sequence in various markets.

Mathworks is an example of a company that started out developing tools that spanned both physical and electronics development and worked with leading EDA tools providers to integrate its Simulink tool with additional EDA capabilities to create solutions without the need to acquire companies or develop tools itself.

In the automotive market Mentor has integrated its tools with third party tools to provide a multi-discipline development environment.  Its SystemVision multi-discipline development environment provides an integrated simulation opportunity to analyze both electronic and mechanical issues.

Clearly Gary’s proposed solution has additional benefits to the EDA industry.  For one it increases the revenue of the sector and it also decreases the dependence on solely electronics and semiconductors demand for its revenue.  At a time when the IoT sector is talked about as the major contributor to increased revenue, calmer voices are pointing out that most of the foreseen products are consumer products that do not require advanced technology.  But they require increased security and improved integration of electro/mechanical and software constituent parts.  The opportunity, then, is not to focus solely on improving support for leading edge process technologies, but to provide fail safe integration of hardware/software/mechanical portions of the products at a reasonable price point.  At this is something that will require a change in the growth plans for the EDA industry.

Veloce Power Application Enables Mentor/Ansys Collaboration

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Gabe Moretti, Senior Editor
One of the most interesting sessions for me at DAC was the luncheon that described the collaboration between Mentor and Ansys.  In general a large company collaborates with a much smaller one because a key customer requests it and has alternative solution in case the collaboration does not take place.  But Mentor and Ansys have relatively the same amount of yearly revenue, although Ansys is more diversified than Mentor and thus Mentor has greater EDA revenue than Ansys at present.

Power continues to be a primary concern for handheld and smart devices with high resolutions screens that require long battery life, and even wall-plugged equipment in a datacenter or in a network configuration needs to reduce operation costs. Using FinFET process technology reduces static leakage, yet dynamic power remains a challenge.

Since the acquisition of Apache, Ansys has increased its presence in the power analysis and management in the market, an area that is becoming a key part of the vast majority of electronic products.  But engineers could do little during emulation with respect to power analysis.  A new product from Mentor has made possible real-time transfer of power switching activity, via a Dynamic Read Waveform API, to power analysis tools replacing current file-based activity transfer methodology.

A new usage model for handheld and smart devices is driving a methodology shift in the way power is analyzed.  One primary driver in this shift is the fact that complex SoC designs are now verified using live applications that require booting the OS and running software applications on an emulator. It is more effective to use the power switching activity plot, generated during emulation, to pass real-time switching activity information to power analysis tools where potential power issues can be evaluated.

“The Veloce Power Application is a proof point to show that a new methodology that captures real power consumption during emulation and effectively passes that information to power analysis tools is more efficient.” said Eric Selosse, vice president and general manager of the Mentor Emulation Division.

“This collaboration addresses the challenges for designers of energy-efficient IP and SoC designs in various IoT verticals,” said Vic Kulkarni, Sr. vice president and general manager, RTL power business, at Apache division of ANSYS. “With our industry leading PowerArtist solution, we are delighted to be the premier partner in the Veloce Power Application ecosystem, and to work so closely with a technology leader in hardware emulation.”