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Analyst reviews EDA sector acquistions

Posted: 17 Jun 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:EDA acquisitions  embedded  parallel computing  software 

Synopsys Inc.'s announced acquisition of IP vendor Virage Logic Inc. for Rs.1,454.58 crore ($315 million) in cash, as well as an agreement by Cadence Designs Systems Inc. last month to buy memory model company Denali Software Inc.—also for Rs.1,454.58 crore ($315 million)—represent the most recent and perhaps boldest steps yet by large EDA vendors to broaden their focus and emerge from a "myopic view of what EDA is that was killing the industry," according to a prominent EDA analyst.

"The thing that excites me is that one of the biggest things in embedded computing is going to be the development of concurrent memory," said Gary Smith, principal of Gary Smith EDA. "If Cadence and Synopsys want to get involved in parallel computing, they picked up two companies that are capable of doing it."

According to Smith, these acquisitions—both of which are still pending—and others in recent months show that EDA vendors recognise that their future growth is depends not just on providing design tools, but other elements such as IP and embedded software tools that reflect the growing complexity of creating SoCs.

"The designers today need both the hardware and software to solve their problems," Smith said.

EDA has struggled for years to overcome trends of stagnation and even contraction. In 1999, EDA posted a then-record revenue of Rs.15,700.18 crore ($3.4 billion), according to the EDA Consortium (EDAC). By last year, that number had risen to Rs.21,010.54 crore ($4.55 billion)—but that increase was largely reflective of changes to EDAC's accounting procedures, such as beginning to lump in silicon IP with EDA.

The Synopsys-Virage deal is scheduled to close by late October. According to Synopsys chairman and CEO Aart de Geus, Virage products complement Synopsys's interface analogue IP portfolio, adding embedded memories, standard cells and programmable cores for control and multimedia sub-systems.

The Cadence-Denali deal, announced last month, is expected to close by the end of this month. The acquisition will expand Cadence's customers' ability to model and validate their systems, as well as accelerate IP integration, according to the company.

Smith applauded both deals. He noted that the Cadence-Denali deal was announced not long after Cadence introduced its EDA360 initiative. This initiative, which some in the industry dismissed as marketing hype, centres on three components: system realisation, SoC realisation and silicon realisation—providing the components required for developing hardware/software platforms, SoCs and getting designs into silicon.

"That has a lot to do with parallel computing and embedding computing," Smith said. "Cadence came around a couple of weeks later and got a memory company."

Smith credited Mentor Graphics Corp. with being the first of the large EDA vendors to step away from what he calls the myopic view of EDA. Mentor chairman and CEO Wally Rhines has spoken for years about the need for EDA companies to get more revenue from adjacent industries, such as automotive electronics.

This year alone Synopsys has made several other acquisitions that broadened the company's focus, including buying ESL software vendor CoWare, analogue design software start-up Gemini Design Automation and virtual system prototyping technology provider Vast Systems Technology Corp. In addition to the Virage acquisition, Synopsys also said Thursday it acquired assets and technology from high-level synthesis tool vendor Synfora Inc.

Smith said EDA's current "big three" of Synopsys, Cadence and Mentor can continue to lead the industry through this period of transition—if they make the right moves.

"If they bring in the [right] elements, they will be the ones to lead," Smith said. "If they don't, they won't. The needle is going to swing so far over to the software side that by five years or so from now whoever is the leader in embedded software revenue is going to be the leader in EDA."

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times





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