The Missing Lynx - The ASIC Cloud

My last blog post, entitled The Weakest Lynx, got a lot of attention from the Synopsys Lynx CAEs and Synopsys marketing. Please go see the comments on that post for a response from Chris Smith, the lead support person for Lynx at Synopsys. Meanwhile, the final part of this series … The Missing Lynx.

About 7 months ago, I wrote a blog post entitled Birth of an EDA Revolution in which I first shared my growing excitement over the potential for cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to transform EDA. About a week later, Cadence announced a SaaS offering that provides their reference flows, their software, and their hardware for rent to projects on a short-term basis. About a week after that, I wrote a third post on this topic, asking WWSD (what will Synopsys do) in response to Cadence.

In that last post, I wrote the following:

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.

Although I wrote this over 6 months ago, I don’t think I could have written it better today. The only difference is that Pilot has now become Lynx. “The ASIC Cloud”, as I call it, would look something like this:

The ASIC Cloud

As I envision it, Synopsys Lynx will be the heart of The ASIC Cloud and will serve to provide the overall production design flow. The Runtime Manager will manage the resources including provisioning of additional hardware (CPU and storage) and licenses, as needed. The management cockpit will provide real-time statistics on resource utilization so the number of CPUs and licenses can be scaled on-the-go. Since The ASIC Cloud is accessible through any web browser, this virtual design center is accessible to large corporate customers and to smaller startups and consultants. It’s also available to run through portable devices such as netbooks and smartphones.

If you think I’m insane, you may be right, I may be crazy. But it just might be a lunatic you’re looking for. To show you that this whole cloud computing thing is not just my fever (I have been sick this past week), take a look at what this one guy in Greece did with Xilinx tools. He basically pays < $1 per hour to access hardware to run Xilinx synthesis tools on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud. Now, this is nothing like running an entire RTL2GDSII design flow, but he IS running EDA tools on the cloud, taking advantage of pay-as-you go CPU and storage resources, and taking advantage of multiple processors to speed up his turnaround time. The ASIC Cloud will be similar and on a much greater scale.

It may take some time for Synopsys to warm up to this idea, especially since it is a whole new business model for licensing software. But for a certain class of customers (startups, design services providers) it has definite immediate benefits. And many of these customers are also potential Lynx customers.

So, Synopsys, if you want to talk, you know where to find me.

__________

That wraps up my 5-part series on Synopsys Lynx. If you want to find the other 4 parts, here they are:

Part 1 - Synopsys Lynx Design System Debuts at SNUG

Part 2 - Lynx Design System? - It’s The Flow, Stupid!

Part 3 - Strongest Lynx

Part 4 - The Weakest Lynx

harry the ASIC guy

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6 Responses to “The Missing Lynx - The ASIC Cloud”

  1. John Busco Says:

    Harry,

    Thanks for sharing your deep insight on Lynx in this well-written series of posts. Great job!

    I’m curious to see what becomes of Lynx and SaaS. Is the time finally right?

    John

  2. Konn Danley Says:

    Harry,

    Great ideas - very well thought out.
    Thanks for putting all this together.

    I suppose it goes without saying that if the EDA folks can get the business model sorted out, smaller businesses would greatly benefit.

    Konn

  3. Jeremy Ralph Says:

    Harry, don’t think you’re crazy. When I first heard of Lynx, the “web based metrics,” and the runtime environment, I kind of wondered if it could be a stepping stone toward SaaS. One thing they’re going to have to figure out is the client/server architecture and how to scale massively with a multi-tenancy Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). They’re going to need to replace their old-school GUI with an AJAX one. Something like VNC might buy them some time (like Cadence is doing) but AJAX is king for SaaS GUIs and they’d be best to move in that direction sooner rather putting it off. They’ve got their work cut out for them if they are going to change course away from traditional tool deployment.

    Once they have the Cloud infrastructure with the SaaS apps, how does the sales channel need to change, and can they really change that? There will be a lot of resistance both internally and externally. The way they do things now works for them (at least relatively), the customers are used to the traditional approach, and it will be painful to switch.

    Looking forward to see how this plays out…

  4. EDAgeek Says:

    >>>The ASIC Cloud will be similar and on a much greater scale.

    No question about the ASIC flow-cloud necessity, except that it cannot be truly scalable without the right strategy and core tech.

    The key core tech for a truly scalable massively parallel flow (not 8, 16 or 32-way, but 1000-way) is partititioning (with abstraction & stitching that does not compromise QoR) and metrics-driven metadata every step in the flow. Synopsys tried to develop partitioners for many tools for massively parallel but failed. The corner cases when you stitch kill the tool apps from being truly scalable (Cadence went through this issue with PVS).

    The rest is all infrastructure and with Lynx Synopsys has clearly put a basic metrics foundation to enable the Cloud vision, although it has a long way to go for delivering a truly scalable platform that does meta-data driven design process optimization across large organizations.

  5. Max Khusid Says:

    Harry, I’m very excited to read your article just to see that I’m not the only crazy one :) About 6 months ago, I proposed the same web-based EDA flow you describe to my mgmt which was based on my home-grown version of Lynx. It included many of the same components that Lynx claims to have: std. best recipe scripts, Perl/Make, checking logs, reporting, etc… Either way, my idea wasn’t accepted as the EDA industry is still stuck in 1999 and Web 1.0 land. Yet, I think it’s just a matter of time

    Thanks for the great blog, I learned a lot and hopefully I get to use Lynx. Their goal is not easy, but it’s about time someone writes serious software for the design flow and the EDA joins Web 2.0 (or it’ll be extinct)

  6. Blooming of an EDA Revolution Says:

    […] also had a new flow offering from Synopsys, called Lynx, which could form the basis for an industry standard flow. And we’ve had other flow offerings from independent consultants like Steve Golson of […]

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