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Cadence acquires process migration provider Q Design

Posted: 07 Jan 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cadence design? q design automation? migration? layout optimization software? full-custom design flows?

Moving to expand its custom layout capabilities, Cadence Design Systems will announce its acquisition of Q Design Automation, a provider of process migration and layout optimization software. The purchase is aimed at strengthening Cadence's Virtuoso line of custom layout products.

Founded in 1999 as Marple Technologies, Q Design Automation (QDA) provides Qtrek-Migrate, which migrates existing designs to new process technologies, and Qtrek-Create, which provides 2D hierarchical layout optimization specifically for Virtuoso. All seven of the company's employees will join Cadence. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Qtrek-Migrate is used for layout migration of memories, standard-cells, analog, datapath, and I/O designs. It has some special features aimed at preserving Virtuoso's parameterized cells (p-cells), but has a GDSII interface and can be used with layout tools from other vendors.

Cadence will continue to offer Qtrek-Migrate as a standalone product, and will fold Qtrek-Create's optimization capabilities into Virtuoso, said Felicia James, vice president for Cadence's Virtuoso platform. The company's technology, she said, is a "great fit" with Virtuoso.

Like many small EDA companies, QDA was strong on technology but lacked a direct sales force, even though the company attracted customers such as Virtual Silicon, Sun, Artisan Components and Rambus.

"We were at the point where we thought the products were in pretty good shape, but we weren't recognizing the potential of the products using our ability to sell and support them," said Randy Fish, QDA president. Since the company was entirely self-funded, he said, the employees were hesitant to raise venture capital in order to build a sales force.

Q Design Automation's key technology, present in both of its products, is a hierarchical 2D optimizer. Fish said other layout optimizers are "1D" in that they optimize in the "x" or "y" directions individually. But QDA developed technology that can optimize in both directions simultaneously, which provides a better solution for the design rules found at 90nm and below, Fish said.

The acquisition puts Cadence in the layout migration market. Fish noted, however, that QDA has thus far focused on full-custom design flows, rather than an ASIC customer-owned tooling (COT) market. "Under the Cadence umbrella, it will be more interesting to start looking at that," he said.

- Richard Goering

EE Times

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