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EDA users call for 64-bit Opteron support

Posted: 12 Sep 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:eda? amd? opteron? server processor? flexm?

A number of EDA users would like to run 64-bit applications on AMD Opteron servers, but are frustrated by the lack of EDA vendor support, according to postings in the latest E-Mail Synopsys Users Group (ESNUG) mailing. Mentor Graphics, however, is announcing design-for-test (DFT) tool support, and Synopsys says it's adding Opteron to its roadmap.

AMD announced the 64-bit Opteron server processor in April. While AMD had only a tiny market share at the time, analysts hailed Opteron's ability to handle both 32-bit and 64-bit processing in the same box.

The ESNUG discussion began in July with a posting from Maynard Hammond of Scientific-Atlanta. He wrote that his company needs memory configurations over 16GB to build its next chip, and has migrated to Linux. After comparing cost and performance of the AMD Opteron versus the Intel Itanium 2 servers, he said he'd rather buy the Opteron servers.

"What frustrates me is that the EDA community in general is porting everything to the Intel Itanium 2 machines but not to the AMD Opteron. This doesn't make any sense to me," Hammond wrote. He noted that Synopsys supports the VCS Verilog simulator on the Opteron "if you ask the right person," but has not made any commitment to support PrimeTime or Physical Compiler.

In a discussion in ESNUG 417, posted Sept. 8, Hammond received some support. One engineer said his company had run a number of benchmarks comparing Xeon, Pentium 4, Opteron, and Itanium workstations, and that the Opteron compared very favorably, with better scaling for runtime memory size.

"Everyone here loves the Opterons, but given that we don't have any promises from vendors, we will go with Itaniums for the physical design space now and Opterons for 32 bit," this engineer wrote.

"We think AMD did it right, will garner a sizeable amount of support because of its backward compatibility with 32-bit applications," wrote Mark Wroblewski of Agere Systems.

"The AMD Opteron will deliver great bang-for-the-buck when compared with Itanium," wrote Steve DiBartolomeo of Artwork Conversion Software. "The major software vendors just need a little more time."

Why the lack of support? One commentator noted that the FlexLM license manager, used by most EDA vendors, doesn't run on Opteron. Another, who identified himself as a former Synopsys employee, said Synopsys is favoring the Itanium because Intel is a very large Synopsys customer.

Synopsys, however, did announce VCS 64-bit Opteron support in April, stating that it would have "controlled availability" in 2H of 2003. "Based on extremely strong feedback and requests from our customers, we are now including Opteron in our set of supported compute platforms," said Karen Bartleson, director of interoperability at Synopsys, in a letter sent in response to the ESNUG postings.

"While we are not yet ready to release definitive schedules for our Galaxy implementation platform and Discovery verification platform, we'd like your readers to know that we are committed to providing support for our products on Opteron," the letter said.

"If Synopsys has no schedule, they really aren't committed," replied John Cooley, ESNUG moderator. "Right now, EDA users are making buy decisions on their hardware."

Cadence Design Systems is apparently making no specific product commitments. "We're seeing customer interest in both Itanium and Opteron platforms," said Lavi Lev, Cadence executive vice president and general manager. "We're currently assessing our overall strategy in this area."

Mentor Graphics, in contrast, is announcing this week that it will offer 64-bit AMD Opteron versions of its TestKompress, FastScan, DFTAdvisor and FlexTest DFT products. These products are currently in beta sites and will be available in late 2003.

Additionally, according to Mentor representatives, the company will offer 64-bit Opteron support for the Calibre verification suite later this year, the IC Station custom design tools in spring 2004 and the ModelSim simulation tools at a time to be determined. ModelSim will support 32-bit Opteron with the upcoming version 5.8 release.

- Richard Goering

EE Times





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