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Cadence makes another synthesis play, buys Get2Chip

Posted: 11 Apr 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cadence design? get2chip? asic? rtl compiler technology? physical synthesis tool?

Cadence Design Systems Inc. is once again trying to break Synopsys Inc.'s death grip on the ASIC synthesis marketshare, announcing that it has acquired privately-held synthesis vendor Get2Chip Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

With the acquisition Cadence gains the Get2Chip RTL Compiler technology, which will go head-to-head with Design Compiler in logic synthesis. A company executive said the Get2Chip technology will also serve as the basis for Cadence's next-generation physical synthesis tool. Cadence currently offers a technology based on Ambit called PKS.

The acquisition represent Cadence's third significant attempt to wrestle logic synthesis away from Synopsys, which held more than 90 percent market-share lead in 2001. Get2Chip and Cadence Ambit split the rest, according to Dataquest's most recent research.

The acquisition is bound to draw skepticism from EDA watchers who have seen Cadence throw tens of millions of dollars into synthesis R&D efforts as well as synthesis vendor acquisitions. Other logic synthesis gambits include its Synergy tool and Ambit.

"This is a new Cadence and a significantly better technology than anything else on the market," said Penny Herscher, EVP at Cadence.

Herscher said where Ambit had a marginal lead over Synopsys at the time of that acquisition, Get2Chip has established a "significant technology lead" over Synopsys and has jumped into bleeding-edge customer accounts previously dominated by Synopsys.

Cadence's first logic synthesis tool, Synergy, failed to gain any significant market share after it was introduced in the early 1990s.

Cadence's most recent attempt to nab synthesis market share was in 1998, when it purchased synthesis startup Ambit Design Systems Inc. for $260 million, the fourth-highest price ever paid for an EDA company and the second highest for a private EDA firm.

Observers said that Ambit's BuildGates product was as good, if not better, than Synopsys Design Compiler logic synthesis offering. But Cadence was slow to build on the Ambit technology and held onto key Ambit R&D staff.

This allowed Synopsys to shore up some shortcomings in its synthesis tool, thereby strengthening its market lead.

Cadence responded by selling BuildGates for $25,000, or about one-eighth the price of the Synopsys Design Compiler. It also bundled BuildGates for free with more expensive Cadence tools. Synopsys retained its overwhelming lead in RTL synthesis and then released the Physical Compiler physical synthesis tool in 1999.

Cadence said it has learned from its past errors and believes it can make the Get2Chip logic synthesis technology a significant contender to Synopsys synthesis offerings.

Herscher said Cadence understands it must hold on to key technologists, noting that Chi-Ping Hsu, Get2Chip's president, CEO and former Avanti lead technology strategist, would head Cadence's synthesis efforts.

Bernd Braune, Get2Chip's chairman and CEO, said he sold Get2Chip because Cadence has a broad sales channel and progressive product line that will benefit from the technology. "With this and the Cadence Encounter platform, which feature SPC and Plato, I think we have a significant lead over the competition," added Braune.

- Michael Santarini

EE Times

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