Chip design has morphed into system design
EDA companies have become significant suppliers of silicon intellectual property (IP) Martin Lund, v-p of the IP business at Cadence tells Electronics Weekly about the importance of being more than an EDA tools company.
Q: Why is a silicon IP business strategically important to an EDA tool supplier?
Martin Lund: As an EDA tool supplier, Cadence wants to provide the best products that can speed the design of integrated circuits, boards and systems. As chips have become much larger and capable of incorporating many functions, the importance of IP has risen.
Design teams, which are tasked with getting new products to market much faster than ever before, can use our design tools to speed the design. And they can turn to our IP portfolio, which includes functions that would take many man-years to develop.
This portfolio is strategically important to Cadence because it strengthens our relationships with our customers. The more solutions we can provide, the stronger the relationship between our companies. We work closely with our major customers not only to sell them products, but so they can help us decide what never-generation products to deliver. With their input, we improve our tools and our IP offerings.
Q: Is Cadence an EDA tool firm with an IP business or is it becoming an IP business that sells EDA tools?
Martin Lund: Cadence is becoming much more than an EDA tools company, but I wouldn’t say it’s a fight between EDA and IP. Instead, we’re looking at the entire system, and what it takes to realize great system designs. For a long time we’ve had a thriving PCB and packaging business (think OrCAD, Allegro, and Sigrity). We’ve been the leader in analog design tools, and we’ve leveraged that leadership into our analog design IP products. We’re making huge steps in digital design, where we now have best-in-class tools that we use to create our IP.
So let’s call Cadence a system design enablement company.
Q: Can your verification tool activities benefit from the silicon IP expertise?
Martin Lund: It’s always a good idea to have an internal design team (or many design teams) use your own tools. Since our IP engineers use Cadence tools, yes, our verification tools benefit because we can give ourselves immediate, direct feedback as these engineers go through the design process. And it’s not only our verification tools that benefit – it’s our entire design tool suite.
Q: Is there a risk you will be seen as competitor to some of your customers (ARM, Xilinx)?
Martin Lund: No. Certainly not with any FPGA company, as we’re not in the silicon business in any way, shape or form. And with ARM, we see a clear difference. We do not make application processors. Our IP is complementary to their application processors. Our verification IP, for example, verifies many of the interfaces for ARM processors, as well as other functions around the chip. Our design IP provides many essential functions that let their processors interface to the rest of the design. Even our Tensilica processors compliment the processor offerings from ARM, providing valuable audio, imaging and baseband functions on the chip.
Our goal is to keep ARM and other major IP companies as key partners as we develop IP and tools that speed the chip design process.
Q: Is it possible for Cadence to be competitive in two markets: EDA and IP?
Martin Lund: I think we’ve already proven that we can. We are now the fastest growing IP company, while our core EDA business continues to grow. There is no question that we can do both.
Tags: Cadence, EDA, IP