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Magma CEO optimistic on analog push

Posted: 31 Mar 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:analog design tool? EDA? design mixed signal?

Despite challenging times for his company and the industry as a whole, Magma Design Automation Inc. chairman and CEO Rajeev Madhavan remained upbeat about new products and the company's inroads in analog EDA.

In an interview with EE Times, Madhavan said Magma is placing greater emphasis on tools for analog/mixed-signal design to address inadequacies in the current EDA tool flow. The company last year rolled out Titan, described as a full-chip mixed-signal design, analysis and verification platform.

"I'm not saying analog design is going to be push button," Madhavan said, adding that analog design does need greater automation and "what if" analysis.

Cadence Design Systems Inc. has long been the dominant player in analog design tools. Though Cadence stumbled last year, losing its standing as the No. 1 EDA vendor by revenue, the company's Virtuoso analog franchise is still considered formidable.

Madhavan, whose first job in EDA was working on analog tools at Cadence, said the Cadence tools provide layout and schematic editing but insufficient automation and simulation capabilities for deep-submicron design. Last year Magma, Synopsys Inc. and startup Ciranova all introduced tools aimed at competing with Cadence in analog EDA.

'Black art'
Madhavan's comments echo those he made at the recent International Symposium on Quality Electronic Design. There, Madhavan called analog design a "black art" with designs handcrafted by a designer and not transportable to new technology nodes.

"In digital, we can move designs from one node to another in a very predictable fashion," Madhavan said. "But doing this and putting them together in a mixed-signal chip is a very, very complex task today."

Today's analog design is done almost by brute force, adding margins that waste silicon area and performance, Madhavan said. Some of the design issues that were seen in digital 10 years ago, such as proximity effects, are now becoming a problem in analog, he said.

In the interview this week, Madhavan said he was excited by a review of Titan written by a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. engineer and published on EDA tool users' site, which says the foundry has achieved good results.

Mum on merger rumors
Magma, once just a step behind EDA's largest three players, has fallen back over the past 18 months. The company has carried out two major rounds of layoffs and expects revenue of only $144 million to $146 million for fiscal 2009. Magma, frequently mentioned in acquisition rumors, has a share price that closed at 81 cents Mar. 27.

Madhavan declined to comment on rumors about Magma as an acquisition target, citing company policy. He also declined to comment on rumors that Magma might go private. Madhavan said merger and acquisition is part of life in EDA, but that he can't comment on rumors particularly when they involve Magma.

Recently a blog posting by consultant Sramana Mitra speculated that Madhavan wants Magma to be acquired. The posting was also picked up by, and Madhavan wrote in to refute it.

Madhavan told EE Times that Magma would have another major product announcement near the Design Automation Conference in July. That product is not believed to be related to analog design.

Last month Madhavan wrote a perspective for EE Times calling for an innovation push to combat challenging times.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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