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Magma to expand into structured ASICs, FPGAs

Posted: 21 May 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:asic implementation tool? magma design automation? fpga? asic? blast fpga?

Having established itself as a provider of ASIC implementation tools, Magma Design Automation Inc. is turning its attention to FPGAs and structured ASICs. The company has released new products in its Blast line targeting those markets.

Blast FPGA includes the company's Blast Create logic-synthesis tool along with Palace, a physical synthesis tool Magma gained last year when it acquired Aplus Design Technologies. The Blast SA structured-ASIC offering, meanwhile, integrates modified versions of Blast Create with the Blast Fusion RTL-to-GDSII implementation tool. Both products are expected to be commercially available in August.

The company's success in the ASIC RTL-to-GDSII space has always "been about cost efficiency," said Nitin Deo, VP of product marketing at Magma Design, allowing customers to design bigger chips with fewer - but more productive - engineers. Magma is now applying that cost efficiency to the FPGAs and structured ASICs, Deo said.

"Applications are coming out in such a way that there will be some programmability required on the user side," he said. "Silicon is moving to a stage where there can be programmability and all-layer customizability, all on one die." Magma is offering tools to allow designers to take advantage of this new ability, he said.

Bryan Lewis, chief semiconductor analyst with Gartner Dataquest Inc., pegged the nascent structured-ASIC market at $35 million in 2003, and said it will grow to $100 million this year, then to $848 million and 1,000 design starts by 2007. "There's definitely a market here," said Lewis, who counted IBM, Fujitsu, LSI Logic and NEC among the first semiconductor players in this "array-based platform" market.

Only Synplicity Inc. and a few privately held vendors supply tools for structured-ASIC design flows. Synplicity has been a big player in the FPGA synthesis market, as has Mentor Graphics Corp. But the two largest EDA vendors, Cadence Design Systems Inc. and Synopsys Inc., have yet to field a serious offering for FPGAs. Some say such tools aren't worth their efforts, largely because FPGA vendors offer their own design tools at low or no cost, conditioning FPGA users to expect low prices.

Synplicity's Synplify synthesis tool, however, proved there is money to be made in FPGAs. And as FPGAs get larger and sprout greater gate counts, some vendors believe users will need ASIC-class tools from commercial EDA companies.

Targeting both of those markets, Magma has given its FPGA and structured-ASIC offerings the same look and feel as the ASIC tools, ensuring that when FPGA designers step up to a structured ASIC or an ASIC, the design environment will be familiar.

Deo said both new offerings were built on Magma's unified data model and use the same interface as the ASIC Blast line. This is a key selling point for Magma's tools, because it gives users a seamless migration between FPGA and ASIC designs, said Deo.

To both versions, the company has added new partitioning and time-budgeting algorithms to provide a better understanding of programmable logic and structured-ASIC architectures.

Deo said users will perform synthesis and layout with Blast FPGA, and then place and route their designs using an FPGA vendor's tools. Magma, he said, has worked with FPGA vendors such as Altera Corp. and Xilinx Inc. to ensure that Blast FPGA correlates with their respective device families.

Similarly, Magma is in the early stages of engaging with structured-ASIC vendors, though Deo declined to name them. The company has announced it is working with intellectual-property vendor Virage Logic Corp. in this area. Virage provides a library for LSI Logic Corp.'s structured-ASIC offering.

Pricing for Magma's FPGA and structured-ASIC products will start at $50,000 per year for a three-year license.

- Mike Santarini

EE Times





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