Upon Further Review and W.W.S.D

At the end of last Sunday’s Chargers-Bronco’s game, Referee Ed Hochuli blew a call that cost the San Diego Charger’s the football game.  Here’s a somewhat comical look at what happened:

Probably not so comical if you’re a Charger’s fan :-(

Well, last week I got a chance to do some more “research” into the Cadence announcement of a SaaS offering. Although I got the substance of the call correct, in haste I also got one important detail incorrect.  (As, Mark Twain once said, “a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Today, a lie can travel around the world several hundred times while you put on your shoes).

I had inferred from the use of the term “Software-as-a-Service“, that the Hosted Design offering would include a “pay per use … pay as you go” or similar on-demand licensing model. Upon further review … this is not the case.  Here are some of the things I found out:

  1. No on-demand licensing, no eDACard … only monthly granularity for licensing. If you want to scale the size of the hosted environment, several weeks lead time may be needed to obtain and configure the additional CPUs unless they are otherwise available.
  2. The “flows” that are offered are the Cadence reference flows (e.g. Low-Power Design Flow), not a production flow that Cadence may or may not be developing.
  3. Cadence says that it can host any third party EDA software … just license it to Cadence’s hostid.

Despite some limitations, this is still a big step. Small companies can now obtain the necessary hardware, software, and IT support to do chip design at a lower initial cost than building their own infrastructure. The VCs should like that.

But there are some limitations.  First, although the Cadence VCAD chamber provides security, it lacks the instant scalability and on-demand pricing that cloud computing would provide. Second, although reference flows are provided, it lacks a real production design environment that designers can just pick up and use.  Third, despite Cadence’s assurances that they will allow other EDA tools to be hosted, competitive tools likely will be discouraged since the ultimate objective is to further lock customers into an all Cadence tool flow.

So, the question now is … What Will Synopsys Do (W.W.S.D)?

Before that, we have to ask What “Has” Synopsys Done?  You see, Synopsys tried and then abandoned a similar idea about 7 years ago. At the time, companies were not “comfortable with the idea that their computers and data were in a remote building operated by a third party”.  But they are now (at least more than before).  At that time, Synopsys had no production design environment available to offer. They do now.

Synopsys could probably go one better and offer a superior solution if it wanted to, combining their DesignSphere infrastructure and Pilot Design Environment.  If fact, they have done this for select customers already, but not as a standard offering. There is some legwork that they’d need to do, but the real barrier is Synopsys itself. They’ve got to decide to go after this market and put together a standard offering like Cadence has.

And while they are at it, if they host it on a secure cloud to make it universally accessible and scalable, and if they offer on-demand licensing, and if they make it truly open by allowing third party tools to plug into their flow, they can own the high ground in the upcoming revolution.

What do you think?

harry the ASIC guy

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One Response to “Upon Further Review and W.W.S.D”

  1. Sean Murphy Says:

    “All reform comes from below. No man with four aces howls for a new deal.” John F. Parker in “If Elected I promise”

    Synopsys more than any firm is holding four aces in the current market, their risk that a SaaS offering has a fratricidal effect on their existing product mix is the highest. Only if the Cadence offering starts to take significant business from them will they respond.

    If I were looking for a SaaS impact in EDA I would look to FPGA tools where the designers are more willing for the design to leave the corporate firewall.

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