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EETE JULAUG 2015

CEO interview Cadence is about enablement, collaboration By Peter Clarke EDA companies are being asked to provide expertise from the circuit to the system-level observes Lip-Bu Tan, CEO of EDA software vendor Cadence Design Systems Inc. Covering such a breadth of endeavour requires finding the right levels of engagement and collaboration, Tan said in an interview with EE Times Europe. The demands placed on EDA companies can also be viewed as spanning from the atomic scale of transistors up to the global scale of the Internet of Things and satellite communications. It can’t get much broader than that but Tan reckons that no EDA company is doing a better job of meeting them than Cadence. The company offers expertise at three identifiable levels; core EDA tools for IC design, design tool sets such as Allegro and OrCAD for PCBs and on to sub-system design with IP blocks. The ideal is to have the three levels merge as a continuum to allow design ideas to move from the “napkin” system down to the detailed layout of billions of transistors and back up to the working system with software running on hardware – faultlessly. In 2013 Tan said his company would be moving up to address Lip-Bu Tan, CEO of EDA software vendor Cadence Design Systems Inc. system and software issues. This was said in an interview at that year’s Cadence Live Europe user conference, held in Munich, Germany. A couple of years later at the IMEC Technology Forum held in Brussels, Belgium, EE Times Europe challenged the Cadence CEO that further movement towards system-level support is not that evident. Tan’s response is that 40 percent of Cadence’s revenue came from systems companies in 2014. In that year Cadence took in $1.581 billion in revenue and a made a net profit of $159 million. And in March 2013 Cadence started to become a significant force as an IP core provider with the acquisition of data-plane processor company Tensilica Inc. Tensilica provides configurable and extensible processors along with processors optimized for audio, baseband, imaging that come with the software to meet various standards and protocols. Although there is no proprietary operating system offering from Cadence it does support third-party operating systems such as ThreadX from Express Logic, uC/OS II from Micrium, Nucleus Plus from Mentor Graphics, and ROSES from Tata Elxsi. Many engineers prefer to work with an open-source operating system such as Linux. Tan also points out that the Sigrity acquisition, which dates back to 2012, brought with it system-level power and thermal design analysis capability. And in 2014 Cadence acquired Forte Design Systems, the vendor of Cynthesi-zer, a SystemC-based behavioural synthesis tool that enables design creation at the higher level of abstraction and nudging into partitioning decisions as to what functionality should be done in hardware and what in software. Enable without competing “There is a lot of open source software out there and we often deal with companies where software is their added value. For example, in medical or automotive this is very specialist software. We want to help with what’s called ‘bare metal’ software but we don’t want to get into applications. Meanwhile our IP business is growing rapidly.” Market researcher Gartner takes a different view. Gartner’s annual IP core ranking lists Cadence IP core revenues in 2014 at $125.8 million, flat compared with 2013. Without commenting on Gartner’s information Tan said: “Our IP business was 11 percent of revenue in 2014.” That puts Cadence’s IP business revenue at about $175 million and supports the strong growth claim. It wouldn’t change Cadence’s fourth position ranking and the fact that EDA rival Synopsys has a larger IP business. Gartner reckons Synopsys IP business was worth $371.1 million in 2014.”Our IP core booking is strong and we are conservative with how we recognize IP revenue,” said Tan. “And on the processor side we have teamed up with ARM.” In March 2015, Cadence and ARM expanded their partnership with the signing of a multiyear IP agreement that grants access to each other’s IP portfolios. As such Cadence-ARM can together provide a comprehensive set of circuit blocks. There are still some areas where Cadence could expand its IP business, Tan said. “We are looking at the various pieces but we mustn’t compete with a customer like ARM.” But a non-compete policy also marks out a number of areas where Cadence is choosing not to take its business. “We have no intention of going into graphics,” said Tan. But it is not clear that ARM feels any such inhibition to limit its IP provision. ARM already offers processors and graphics and the company recently moved into radio. It created its Cordio portfolio of Bluetooth radio IP based around its acquisition of two US companies Wicentric Inc. and Sunrise Micro Devices Inc. “You always have some overlap but in partnership as long as Cadence’s three strands of EDA enablement cover the IC, the you are open these things can be worked around,” said Tan. board and boxes. Source: Cadence, IMEC Technology Forum. 8 Electronic Engineering Times Europe July-August 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE JULAUG 2015
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