Posts Tagged ‘Mentor’

You’ve Got Talent - Now Get Out There!

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Last Saturday night, an unattractive, overweight, 47-year old spinster from Scotland appeared on the UK television show Britain’s Got Talent. If you have not seen it, here is the video.

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle has become an overnight sensation, this video becoming the most popular on YouTube this week and this month, with over 11 Million views as I write this. What made this remarkable was not the quality of the singing, which was excellent, but probably no better than many top performers on this and other similar shows like American Idol. What made it remarkable was the level of performance as compared to the expectations that EVEYBODY had before she sang. We were set up … by her appearance and by her age and by past auditions by no-name wannabees who delivered horrid performances in order to be ridiculed by the judges. We knew what was going to happen before it happened … and we were dead wrong.

As I thought more about this, I noticed the parallels between Miss Boyle and many displaced engineers affected by the continuing economic woes. Many of you, like me and Miss Boyle, are in your forties. You may be a little overweight and the hair that you still have is turning gray. And you find yourself having to audition for a job amid snickers from the interviewers who don’t expect very much. In fact, I find myself in a similar circumstance, the contract with my current client coming to a close, and me starting to beat the bushes for the next project to work on.

So I am going to take away from Miss Boyle 3 points of inspiration that will hopefully help me and maybe help you too:

1 - Be out there

Even though she has amazing talent, Susan Boyle had every reason to think that she could not compete with the younger and prettier contestants. And even if she did go out there, she risked being ridiculed in front of a national audience. After all, this is a society that judges appearance over substance in so many ways. What was the point?  Instead, she decided that she owed it to herself and her mother (now deceased) to give it a go.

You may think that your age is a liability, especially compared to younger engineers, armed with up-to-date education, who work for less and put in crazy hours. And you may be right. So you have to make a decision. You can feel sorry for yourself and convince yourself that nobody wants you. Or you can give it a go like Miss Boyle and at least you have a chance.

2 - Be Yourself

It’s truly amazing what professional makeup artists and clothing consultants can do to improve your appearance. Miss Boyle could have hired someone like that to make her appear younger, slimmer, and more attractive. But she didn’t. In fact, it looked like she dragged an old dress out of her closet to wear to the show. That probably did not help her, but she would have been much more the fool had she come out with tons of makeup and jewelry in tight fitting Spandex pants. I may be naive, but I believe that people inherently value honesty and authenticity … two of Miss Boyle’s most attractive qualities.

Now, I’m not saying you should dress sloppily when you go to an interview. But you should not go out of your way to make yourself appear, physically or otherwise, like someone you are not. Everybody get’s older, so you have nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you can use your “experience” as an advantage in most situations. At least your future employer will walk away with the peace of mind that there are no surprises and that he knows what he gets with you.

3 - Be Prepared

Susan Boyle could have been on the show and been herself, but if she sang poorly she would have been ridiculed like so many other contestants. In the end, she had to be better than mediocre, to have real talent to impress the judges. She not only had talent, but she chose a song to sing that highlighted her strengths.

If you follow the 2 recommendations above, at least you’ll get yourself in front of people and they’ll know you are authentic. That should get you close to a level playing field. To get the job, you need to have skills. If you are lacking in the skills you need, you may need to acquire new skills to impress the judges. As I have mentioned several times before, Mentor Graphics’ Displaced Worker Program provides free access to training for displaced engineers and can be a great resource. (Hopefully Synopsys and Cadence will do the same). If you can, take advantage of this and so many of the other free resources available today. There are blogs, Webinars, forums, and social networks that can help you get the skills you desire.

Once you have the skills, make sure you highlight those skills and strengths. Just as Susan Boyle no doubt chose a song that emphasized her singing strengths and de-emphasized her weaknesses (I’m sure she has some), make sure you can speak during an interview to those parts of your experience and expertise that are your strengths. Be prepared for any and all questions.

__________

In summary, I don’t expect that finding a new job/project at this time will be easy for you or for me. But at least we can be out there, be ourselves, and be prepared like Susan Boyle.

Good luck!!!

harry the ASIC guy

What To Do With 1000 CPUs - The Answers

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

I recall taking a course called The Counselor Salesperson when I was an AE at Synopsys. The course was very popular across the industry and was the basis for the book Win-Win Selling. It advocated a consultative approach to sales, one in which the salesperson tries to understand the customer’s problem first and provide a solution that he needs second. Sounds obvious, but how often do you encounter a salesperson who knows he has what you need and then tries to convince you that you have a problem?

One of the techniques in the process is called the “Magic Wand” wherein the salesperson asks the customer “What would it be like if …”. This open-ended type of question is designed to free the customer’s mind to imagine solutions that he’d otherwise not consider due to real or imagined constraints. That’s the type of question I asked last week when I asked: What would you do with 1000 CPU’s? And boy did it free your minds!

Before I go into the responses, you may be wondering what was my point in asking the question in the first place.  Well, not so surprisingly, I’m looking to understand better the possible applications of cloud computing to EDA and ASIC design. If a designer, design team, or company can affordably access a large number of CPUs for a short period of time, as needed, what would that mean? What would they be able to do with this magic wand that they would not even have thought of otherwise?

I received 8 separate responses, some of them dripping with humor, sarcasm, and even disdain. Good stuff! I’ve looked them over and noticed that they seem to fall into 4 groups, each of which highlights a different aspect or issue of this question.

“Rent Them Out”

Gabe Moretti had the best response along these lines, “(I’d) heat my house and pool while selling time to shivering engineers”. Jeremy Ralph of PDTi put some dollar value on the proposition, calculating that he could make $8.25M per month sub-licensing the licenses and CPUs. While Guarav Jalan pointed out that I’d need to also provide bandwidth to support this “pay-as-you-use” batch farm.

The opportunity is to aggregate users together to share hardware and software resources. If I buy a large quantity of hardware and software on a long-term basis at discounted rates, then I can rent it out on a shorter-term basis at higher rates and make money. The EDA company wins because they get a big sale at a low cost-of-sales. The customers win because they get access to tools on a pay-as-you-go basis at lower cost without a long-term commitment. And I win because I get to pocket the difference for taking the risk.

“Philanthropy”

One of the reasons that Karen Bartleson and I get along so well is that we’ve both been around the EDA industry for some time (we’ll leave it at that). As a result, we not only feel connected to the industry, but also some sense of responsibility to give back. Karen would train university student’s on designing SOCs. I’d train displaced workers on tools that can help them find a new job.

Even though this is not really a business model, I think it is still something that the EDA vendors should consider. Mentor is already very active in promoting it’s Displaced Worker Program. Autodesk and SolidWorks are giving away free licenses to the unemployed. This type of program should be universal. Using cloud computing resources is an easy way to make it happen without investing in lots of hardware.

(On a side note: PLEASE, PLEASE encourage anyone you know at Synopsys and Cadence to follow Mentor’s lead. Synopsys did this in 2001 and Cadence once had a “Retool-To-Work” program that was similar. I truly believe that both companies have that same sense of corporate responsibility as Mentor has, but for some reason they have not felt the urgency of the current situation. I am personally going to issue a daily challenge on Twitter to Synopsys and Cadence to follow suit until it happens. Please Retweet.)

“Do Nothing”

John Eaton pointed out that it is very difficult to use any additional capability offered as “pumpkinware” if you know it will evaporate within a month. It would take that long to set up a way to use it. And John McGehee stated that his client already has all the “beer, wine, and sangria” they can drink (New Yorkers - do you remember Beefsteak Charlie’s?), so he’d pass. John: Can you hook me up with your client :-) ?

Seriously,  it certainly requires some planning to to take advantage of this type of horsepower. You don’t just fire off more simulations or synthesis runs or place and route jobs without a plan. For design teams that might have access to this type of capability, it’s important to figure out ahead of time how you will use it and for how long you will need it. If you will be running more sims, which sims will they be? How will you randomize them? How will you target them to the most risky parts of the design?

Run Lots of Experiments”

Which brings us to Jeremy Ralph’s 2nd response. This one wins the prize as best response because it was well thought out and also addressed the intention of the magic wand question: what problem could you solve that you otherwise could not have solved? Jeremy would use the resources to explore many different candidate architectures for his IP (aka chiplet) and select the best one.

One of the key benefits of the cloud is that anyone can have affordable access to 1000 CPUs if they want it. If that is the case, what sorts of new approaches could be implemented by the EDA tools in addressing design challenges? Could we implement place and route on 1000 CPUs and have it finish in an hour on a 100M gate design? Could we partition formal verification problems into smaller problems and solve what was formerly the unsolvable? Could we run lots more simulations to find the one key bug that will kill our chip? The cloud opens up a whole new set of possibilities.

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I’ve learned a lot from your responses. Some were expected and some were not. That’s what’s fun about doing this type of research … finding the unexpected. I’ll definitely give it some thought.

harry the ASIC guy

Mentor Graphics Displaced Worker Program

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

I’m still up at the Design Verification Conference (DVCon) and have not had a chance to summarize last evening’s Software-As-A-Service and Cloud Computing EDA Roundtable. I will do that over the weekend and have a complete rundown next week, including slides.

In the meantime, I wanted to pass on some information that was announced a week or so ago and which I became aware of just this week. Mentor Graphics has initiated a Displaced Worker Program to provide free training to customers who have lost thier jobs in the last 6 months. Back last Decemeber I had issued a challenge to the EDA vendors to do just this. I don’t know if this challenge had any affect; hopefully they did this because they thought it was the right thing to do.

So far Mentor is the only company that has done this, to my knowledge. I’ve personally had discussions with one other of the “Big 3″, so hopefully they will follow suit. Maybe Mentor’s offer will help prompt them.

What do you think? Should they do this?

harry the ASIC guy

Verification Methodology Poll Results

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Last week I initiated a poll of verification methodologies being used for functional verification of ASICs. Unlike other polls or surveys, this one was done in a very “open” fashion using a website that allows everyone to view the raw data. In this way, anyone can analyze the data and draw the conclusions that make sense to them, and those conclusions can be challenged and debated based on the data.

What happened next was interesting. Within 48 hours, the poll had received almost 200 responses from all over the world. It had garnered the attention of the big EDA vendors who solicited their supporters to vote. And, as a result, had became a focal point for shenanigans from over-zealous VMM and OVM fans.  I had several long nights digging through the data and now I am ready to present the results.

As promised, here is the raw data in PDF format and as an Excel workbook. The only change I have made is to remove the names of the individual 249 respondents.

In summary, the results are as follows:

RAW Results from Verification Methodology Poll


(Note: The total is more than the 249 respondents because one respondent could be using more than one methodology.)

Regarding the big 3 vendors, the data shows a remarkable consistency with Gary Smith’s market share data. There are 85 respondents planning to use the Synopsys methodologies (VMM,RVM, or Vera) and there are 150 respondents planning to use the Mentor or Cadence methodologies (OVM, AVM, eRM, e). That represents 36% for Synopsys and 64% for Mentor/Cadence. Gary’s data shows Synopsys with 34% market share, Mentor with 35%, and Cadence with 30%.

Methodology Split

Gary Smith Market Share Data


I’ll share some more insights in upcoming posts. In the meantime, please feel free to offer any insights that you have through your comments. Remember, you too have access to the raw data. This invitation includes the EDA vendors. And feel free to challenge my conclusions … but back it up with data!

harry the ASIC guy

VMM on Questa & IUS Redux? Anything New Here?

Friday, December 5th, 2008

Considering what I’ve been hearing about the status of the Accellera VIP Subcommitee activity regarding OVM / VMM integration, I was rather surprised to see the following synchronized press releases from Mentor and Cadence yesterday:

As I understand, the Accellera VIP Subcommittee has just recently begun tackling the real crux issues regarding integrating the 2 methodologies such as:

  • Casting of disparate types
  • Synchronization of the simulation phases
  • Message reporting

My speculation is that Mentor and Cadence are just now formally announcing the availability of the “fixed up” VMM code that had previously leaked out in a blog post by JL Gray.

Does anyone out there know what’s really in this release? It would be good to hear directly from the vendors on this.

How about OVM on VCS? Has anybody been able to get that working?

harry the ASIC guy

A Scalpel or a Hatchet?

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

I spoke to a friend of mine at Cadence yesterday morning.

“I came in this morning and tried to log on and I couldn’t.  Turns out I must have mistyped my password, but I was worried there for a minute.”

That seems to sum up the mood at Cadence yesterday as the Turk made his way through the hallways of Cadence worldwide. “I think I’m going to go on vacation for the rest of the day”, my friend said later.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard it from friends, or read it in EE Times or on John Blyler’s blog, that Cadence cut “at least” 625 jobs or 12% of it’s workforce.  John Blyler’s sources say the impact will be closer to 1000 jobs once contractors and others are added in.

The speculation has been going on for several weeks including an interesting exchange on the Yahoo message boards as to how deeply and in what manner Cadence would cut.  Would they take out a scalpel and trim the fat from organizations across the board?  Or would they focus on key areas with technological advantage and hatchet off areas that were non-competitive? Cadence CTO Ted Vucurevich mocked the idea that Cadence would sell off any businesses. Yet, the official press release says that Cadence “emphasized those market segments where Cadence enjoys a leadership position, such as mixed-signal design, advanced verification, and low-power design”, implying it was de-emphasizing other businesses.

So … do we have any idea if these cuts were made with a scalpel or with a hatchet? Here is what I’ve been able to pick up from others regarding what Cadence is doing to save expenses:

  • From the official 8-K report: “(e) Cadence has determined that no payment shall be made to Cadence’s named executive officers or the other participants in the Cadence Senior Executive Bonus Plan for performance in fiscal 2008.” I don’t think this eliminates the golden parachute, but at least it weighs a little less.
  • At least some middle management was let go, including first line managers and some long-time Cadence employees. It seems they are trying to cut the “deadwood” like any organization does now and again but from the management side first. And the impact to the rank and file seems to be less than it could have been. Still, having gone through similar times at Synopsys before, I know that a lot of these people are experienced EDA veterans and good people to have in the organization and I wish them well.
  • All, or a substantial part of their tech pubs was let go. (Makes sense since they can contract this out).
  • IT was hit, though not sure how deep. (Can always move their infrastructure to the cloud or outsource IT - now wouldn’t that be ironic).
  • Berkeley Labs was hit hard or perhaps even shut down (who needs research?)
  • Their DFT R&D group was impacted, perhaps a signal as to their plans for this product line (just a bunch of IBMers anyway).

As yet, there is no indication that entire products are going away, but it’s still early.  Cadence has yet to speak to the investment community since the Fister resignation and delaying their earnings release due to the discovery of an “accounting error”. Personally, I think it will be painful for a company that has endeavored to provide a “complete flow”, to sell off a product and create a hole in that flow.  If they do sell off products, it will be around the edges, not in the core EDA flow.

Take a look at Gary Smith’s analysis from the time that Cadence bid to take over Mentor (can you believe it’s been  just over 4 months since the offer). The tools where Cadence has low market share and are possible targets for the hatchet:

  • Design for Manufacturing
  • Physical Verification
  • Design For Test
  • Static Timing Analysis
  • Synthesis

What do you think? Can you see Cadence divesting any of these products?  Or do you think there are others that might go away? Which product would you definitely not let go?

Inquiring minds want to know….

harry the ASIC guy

Turbulence

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

That’s the word Aart DeGeus invoked no less than 7 times to describe the business environment during Synopsys’ Q3 analyst call last week. “Some companies may do particularly well and others poorly … and the same is true in of course our market.”

Indeed, the EDA market is turbulent and there will be winners and losers.  With Mentor and Synopsys announcing earnings last Wednesday, we got a chance to peer ahead and see which skipper could steer his ship through the turbulent waters.

Mentor Graphics

Under cloak of darkness, before the sun rose in Wilsonville and before the market opened on Wall Street, Mentor announced Q2 revenue of $182.4M, exceeding Street expectations of $175M. Even though their core EDA business declined by 10% last quarter, they more than made up for it by quadrupling their business in the vertical automotive market from 5% to 20% of revenue. Mentor admits that this kind of jump is a one quarter fluke, still it looks like Mentor’s focus in this area and a developing focus in aerospace are paying off.

Mentor cited uncertainties in the economy as affecting current and future commitments. One interesting datapoint … for every $1.0M contract that was renewed last quarter, Mentor received $1.06M compared to $1.25M - $1.40M they had seen consistently in the past. This could be an aberration or it could signal that customers are reluctant to make larger or longer term commitments. As a result, Mentor has reduced expenses by cutting 150 jobs so far this year, closing offices, limiting travel and trade show participation, and even deferring replacement of PCs.

Looking forward, Mentor seem to be banking on two strategies. First is their vertical market focus in automotive and aerospace. Second, Mentor is positioning the transition to 45nm as an inflection point and an opportunity to replace existing physical design tools with their Olympus SoC solution, particularly emphasizing the need to handle multi-mode multi-corner design.

Lastly, their was no direct comment concerning the now defunct Cadence acquisition attempt. However, apparently Mentor was able to enact a golden parachute for its executives in case of takeover. They also spent and will continue to spend ~ $1M per quarter on “banking fees” associated with the Cadence offer and possibly looking at other ways to “structure” their business. Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink.

Mentor shares closed up 10% Wednesday.

Synopsys

In contract to Mentor, Synopsys announced it’s earning in full daylight and after the markets closed for the day. Q3 revenue was $344M compared to the market’s expectations of $340M, a healthy increase of 13% from last year. Unlike the automotive business carrying Mentor for the quarter, there was no single area that stood out for Synopsys. They signed a significant deal with National Semiconductor that includes access to Synopsys’ analog/mixed-signal and custom IC design tools (code named Orion), now in beta and scheduled for release this quarter.

As far as the turbulent environment is concerned, Synopsys is seeing mixed signals with “some customers racing forward to gain market share while others are holding back on their forward commitments”. Aart noted that in “sales situations that are heading towards closure you suddenly get two, three, four weeks more signature loops … that says typically that the approval is going up one or two levels in a company or that everything goes through the desk of the CFO”. Synopsys expects to benefit from this uncertainty as customers opt for safety, both technologically and financially. Still, they scaled back expectations for revenue growth to 6-7% in 2009.

There were also some interesting product notes. As I mentioned above, Synopsys will complete beta testing and formally introduce its AMS design tool, codenamed Orion, this quarter. Orion will plug a critical portfolio hole so that Synopsys can be a viable choice for key customers looking to consolidate all digital and analog design with a single vendor. On the place and route front, Synopsys claimed a production tapeout for their new Zroute router which implements diagonal routing and also runs multithreaded and faster than their current router.

Synopsys shares closed down 11% Thursday. Apparently, the fact that Synopsys lowered its cash flow forecast for 2009 from $325M to $320M-$325M spooked Terence Whalen of Citibank so much that he changed his recommendation for Synopsys from Buy to Sell. Hard to fathom, considering the slight amount of this change, considering that 2009 is still being planned by Synopsys, and considering Synopsys’ history of generating cash from operations.  Still, it does not take much these days I guess.

Last week, I said that I would be watching for 4 things.  So, what did I see?

  1. The market uncertainty that Cadence noted is definitely affecting Mentor and Synopsys as well, so it is an industry problem, not just a Cadence problem.The waters are turbulent.
  2. Little said about the Cadence acquisition.
  3. Synopsys may be seeing some benefits from the uncertainly caused by the short-lived Cadence - Mentor courtship. Still, too early to tell.
  4. Very little on the Synplicity acquisition except that things are going well.

For some more insight, see Gabe Moretti’s articles on Mentor and Synopsys and Sramana Mitra’s analysis.
harry the ASIC guy

The Week Ahead: All Eyes on SNPS & MENT

Monday, August 18th, 2008

It’s been a rocky month for EDA.

On July 23rd Cadence revised strongly downward its revenue forecast for the last 6 month of 2008. Cadence stock plummeted 30% the next day. As a direct result, Cadence scrapped its takeover bid for Mentor Graphics this past Friday.

On July 24th Rambus reported Q2 revenue down 10% from Q1 and down 25% from Q2′07. Their closing price that day of $14.70 culminated a decline of almost one-third over the previous month. As a result, Rambus has announced its cutting 20% of its workforce.

On August 7th, Magma pre-announced that its Q1 revenue would be 10% lower than expected. Result: $6.77 => $5.45 (-19%).

And just last week, MIPs announced a $100M write-down due to “the softening overall market for intellectual property and delays experienced in realizing expected synergies” (with the Chipidea acquisition). With it, a 15% layoff.

And so, all eyes will be on Synopsys and Mentor this Wednesday. First, Mentor will announce Q2 earnings at a 5:30 AM (PDT) conference call. (Show of hands, who is getting up early for that one). Then, Synopsys will announce Q3 earnings at a more reasonable time, 2:00 PM (PDT).

A few things that I’ll be watching for:

  1. During Cadence’s earnings call, Mike Fister blamed most of their predicted revenue shortfall on their customers’ decision to postpone purchases in the face of uncertainty in their own businesses. This seems to be supported by the subsequent bad news from Magma, Rambus, and MIPs. If that is the case, expect to hear similar bad news and comments from Synopsys and Mentor.  If not, then the finger will point back to Cadence.
  2. What will Mentor say about the withdrawn offer by Cadence? (Note: Mentor stock dropped 25% midday Friday after the news broke).
  3. Several analysts and observers (including myself) felt that Synopsys would benefit from the uncertainty caused by the Cadence - Mentor acquisition battle. I’ll be interested to see if Synopsys’ numbers show that or if there is any anecdotal information of a big customer switching to Synopsys as a result.
  4. This will be the 1st quarter since Synopsys acquired Synplicity, so look to see how that is going.  From what I hear, Synopsys plans to keep the businesses mostly separate through the end of FY08 (October).

It should be an interesting week…

harry the ASIC guy

Cadence Q2 10-Q Report : Between The Lines

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Following up on my post last week on Cadence’s Q2 earnings call, here are my “between the lines” observations of Cadence’s Q2 10-Q report:

“Our recent announcement of the proposed acquisition of Mentor Graphics Corporation, or Mentor Graphics, has caused some customers to demand more flexibility in accessing new technology.”

Translation: When the large EDA vendors negotiate a multi-year deal with their customers, the deal will include “remix” rights allowing the customer to periodically alter his license mix (e.g. trade in simulator seats for synthesis seats). Typically, “new technology”, i.e. tools not yet available at the time of the deal, are excluded or are available only at some premium vs. existing technology. Evidently, Cadence customers are asking for the ability to remix in technology that might be acquired from Mentor. This is slowing things down and may have caused some deals to slip out.

To enable us to keep our focus on the value of our technologywe are moving to a license mix thatwill result in increased ratable revenue for us.” (Note: You can go to the 10-Q report for the full sentence, but the key part is shown above.)

Translation: EDA vendors that are publicly traded, like Cadence, need to hit their quarterly revenue estimates, or they are punished, as we saw last week. Since customers know this, they often defer purchases until the end of the EDA vendor’s fiscal quarter or year, resulting in the “hockey stick” effect (i.e. the graph of orders over time looks like a hockey stick with the big increase at the end of the quarter). By waiting until an EDA vendor is desperate to “make it’s numbers”, they can negotiate the best price. In order to be less dependent on the quarter end business, Cadence is increasing to a 90% ratable model. In this way, most of Cadence’s revenue will be determined by backlog orders, so they won’t need to heavily discount to hit their numbers.

“In order to provide our customers with the desired flexibility, our license mix will change to a higher proportion of licenses that require ratable revenue recognition which will result in a decrease in our expected revenue for the second half of fiscal year 2008.”

Translation: Instead of recognizing 100% revenue when the order is received (or the license is shipped) as for a perpetual license, the revenue for a subscription license is recognized “ratably” over the term of the license.  For instance, if the subscription license is for 24 months, then 1/24 of the revenue is recognized each month. So, in the upcoming quarters, Cadence will have reduced revenue due to the fact that the revenue is deferred out over the term on the subscription licenses. The nice part for Cadence is that they can attribute the decline in revenue over the next few quarters to the change in license mix.  This will be partly true, but they can also obscure poor orders performance since they do not report orders to the investment community, only revenue and backlog (as far as I know).

“To offset some of the impact of our expected decrease in revenue, we have implemented cost savings initiatives, including reducing headcount, decreasing employee bonuses and reducing other discretionary spending.”

Translation: I’ve heard that Cadence has already instituted 3 shutdowns this year, July 4th week, Thanksgiving week, and Christmas to New Years. Incentive bonuses usually accrue in Q4, so that will help later this year. I have not heard of any headcount reductions since last week, but maybe someone else has.

Hope that helps.

harry the ASIC guy

Synopsys Calls, Mentor Raises

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Not to be outdone, but with much less fanfare and ballyhoo than Synopsys’ donation of its Verification Methodology Manual (VMM) class library to the Accellera Verification IP (VIP) Technical Subcommittee, Mentor Graphics last week donated it’s Unified Coverage Database (UCDB) to the Accellera Unified Coverage Database Interoperability (UCIS) Technical Subcommittee.

Although not as hot a topic in the press and in the blogosphere, this represents a firm step forward in the standardization of the overall coverage driven verification methodology, whether you pray from the OVM or from the VMM hymnal. Whereas ratified or defacto standards already exist for the testbench languages, the requirements and coverage capture tools and formats are still proprietary to each of the 3 major vendors. This prevents the verification management tools of one vendor from being used with another vendor’s simulator. Having a UCDB standard will facilitate portability and enable more innovative solutions to be built by third parties on top of this standard.

Although Synopsys and Cadence have their own unique UCDB format, the basic elements of this standard should be much easier to agree upon without the political wrangling slowing the VIP subcommittee. I also think this is an opportunity for Synopsys, Mentor, and Cadence to show that they really can cooperate for the benefit of their customers and win back some of the goodwill lost in the OVM vs. VMM battle

harry the ASIC guy