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Online design startup sparks tool debate

Posted: 02 Oct 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Upverter? online design? CAD? PCB? Mentor?

The Upverter Parts Concierge is an online service that allows engineers to request a component to be added to an online design in progress. It aims to eliminate the need to copy information from datasheets into a CAD design. However, it is a few raising questions about the future of online design.

The components are created, verified and added to Upverter's existing database of 1.4 million devices. It's the latest of several enhancements from the five-year-old Upverter that employs about 17 people and has taken in a $3 million in funding so far. The service now let's engineers maintain private parts libraries. It also rolled out a new constraints-management feature and enhanced its search engine.

Engineers get two private designs and 20 part requests free for signing up. For $100 per month, they can create an unlimited number of designs and request 20 more parts/month with a $25 charge for each additional part.

Upverter aims to deliver services that compete with Altium OrCad or Cadence Allegro tools for a fraction of the price. There are dozens of startups "in the whole CAD-meets-cloud space, and there will be a bunch of interesting stuff coming out in the next year," said Zak Homuth, cofounder and CEO of Upverter.

Veteran EDA investor Lucio Lanza agrees, but sees market traction further in the distance. "Cloud-based EDA will happen, it's hard to see the steps but we will get to the performance and privacy engineers need, analogue is the best place to start," he said.

Upverter Parts Concierge

Upverter's latest feature automates the process of creating new components in a design.

The view from Mentor, Altium, Ansys

Opinions vary among companies such as Mentor Graphics, Altium and Ansys that to date have made relatively limited or recent forays into cloud-based services.

For about two years, Mentor has supported virtual labs on Amazon's Web servers where customers can evaluate some of its tools online. Several hundred users have tried the service so far, less than a quarter of the engineers who test out Mentor tools, said David Wiens, a business development manager in Mentor's PCB group.

In a separate alliance, Mentor partners with vendors such as Altera and PMC-Sierra to create virtual labs where engineers can test out new SerDes, memory interfaces and other designs. Overall, "we are preparing for a cloud- based business model, but the demand has not taken off to support it," in part because customers have a legacy of in-house optimised tools and libraries and concerns about privacy, said Wiens.

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