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Analog EDA startup preps optimization tools

Posted: 27 Feb 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:eda? ic design? analog? mixed-signal? kimotion technologies?

Claiming new technology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, startup Kimotion Technologies is preparing products that provide modeling, sizing and layout for analog and mixed-signal IC designs. The company has raised initial venture capital funding of 3 million Euros.

Kimotion recently spun out of the Catholic University, which retains a minority equity stake in the company. The founders of Kimotion worked on analog synthesis under the direction of professor Georges Gielen, and were researchers from the Microelectronics and Sensors (MICAS) laboratory at the university. Kimotion's CEO, Oscar Buset, was a co-founder of EDA startup Snaketech in 1996.

Kimotion's technology will offer a "new generation" of analog EDA, said Buset. The company's tools, he said, will provide better speed and capacity than existing approaches, with less need for continual Spice simulations.

"People can design op amps and oscillators with tools out there today, but our tools will be able to do them much more quickly and with fewer simulation licenses," he said. "We'll also be able to handle larger blocks like data converters and PLLs."

Kimotion doesn't promise a fully automated, spec-to-silicon synthesis tool. The company will offer "evolution rather than revolution," Buset said, and start with transistor sizing. Kimotion will also offer modeling, layout generation, analog placement and routing, and device generation.

The company won't compete with layout editors like Cadence Design Systems' Analog Artist, but will seek to work with them, Buset said. "What you'll get out of the tool is a routed, placed layout that you can import into a layout editor for final verification and integration with other IP," he said. "What goes in is design specifications and technology files."

Kimotion is entering a challenging market. The company will not only be competing with analog EDA firms such as Neolinear, but also with Synopsys, which recently acquired Analog Design Automation, and Cadence, which according to Dataquest held 96 percent of the analog design market in 2002.

Dataquest's 2003 Market Trends report, however, notes startup activity and states that "Cadence is vulnerable in a market it has dominated for years." According to the report, the analog design market will grow from $62.6 million in 2003 to $129.7 million in 2007.

Buset acknowledged that analog EDA is currently a small niche. "I think it can shift over time," he said. "There's always some resistance when you present new tools to people. But lately there's been more interest focused on this area."

-Richard Goering

EE Times

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