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 Dispatches from Boston
Nanette Collins
Nanette Collins
Boston-based Nanette Collins is the 2013 recipient of the Marie R. Pistilli Women in EDA Achievement Award, presented annually to an individual who has helped advance women in the EDA industry. She started Nanette V. Collins Marketing and Public Relations in 1994 after working as director of … More »

Carbon, an Essential Element of the Design Flow

May 9th, 2013 by Nanette Collins

Carbon Design Systems was founded in 2002 and will be at this year’s DAC exhibitor in the ARM Booth (#921). The story picks up from here with Bill Neifert, Carbon’s co-founder who serves as chief technology officer and vice president of business development, and CEO Rick Lucier, who’s been at Carbon since 2006.

Carbon, Bill and Rick explain, recorded the sixth consecutive year of growth at the close of 2012. They attribute this to 14 new customers, all of whom recognize the need for fast virtual prototypes with a path to 100%, the solution Carbon is known for.

Rick Lucier is Carbon’s CEO.

Bill racked up 125,000 United Airlines frequent flier miles getting that business closed and claims to have seen “The Bourne Legacy” eight times traveling between continents. He’s wised up since then and loads his iPad with TiVo downloads for the numerous flights he taken already this year.

Bill Neifert is a Carbon co-founder. He’s now CTO and vp of business development.

Virtual prototyping is a trend moving through the design community. For those of you who don’t know what a virtual prototype is, here’s the Wikipedia description: Virtual prototyping is a technique in the process of product development. It involves using CAD and CAE software to validate a design before committing to making a physical prototype.

Bill and Rick explained that companies are adopting Carbon Performance Analysis Kits (CPAKs) introduced last year, pre-built, easily extensible virtual prototypes. While CPAKs sound like a political action committee, they are actually packaged with bare-metal and O/S software to enable rapid user productivity and cut the time needed to be productive with virtual prototypes. More than 30 CPAKs are available from Carbon’s IP Exchange web portal ( and feature cores from partners ARM, Arteris, MIPS and Cadence.

Another highlight from 2012 is a $4 million strategic investment from Samsung that’s now in use as working capital and supports Carbon’s ongoing development of ESL tools, another indication of the trending toward virtual prototypes.

Rick says: “We’ve seen a strong uptick in demand from design teams seeking virtual prototypes with a connection to accuracy. Our 100% accurate models give us the unique capability to solve this growing demand, while also offering the capability to execute that same virtual prototype at the speeds needed by software developers.”

Joe Tatham, vice president of engineering, at left and engineering director Matt Grasse hold an informal discussion in Joe’s office.

Bill interjects here to explain that design teams have been led to believe they need to choose either performance or cycle accuracy when employing virtual prototypes. That, he says, is what sets Carbon apart because it has removed the tradeoff for designs. They can have it all!

It’s interesting to note that Carbon is bucking the EDA trend by being located in Massachusetts but then, these are hearty New Englanders. Acton, where it’s located, is a suburb of Boston 21 miles away. Its closest neighbor in Concord, a town that’s the home of Walden Pond, the American Revolution and authors Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

A few of Carbon’s engineering team grabbed a conference room for a meeting.

To get to Carbon, visitors coming from Boston need to circle a rotary right beyond Concord State Penitentiary, an inauspicious route, to be sure. But once there, it’s an oasis for Carbon is tucked into a picturesque office park just off Rte. 2 in Acton, the busy main drag.

Carbon’s corporate headquarters is in Nagog Park in Acton, Mass.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Carbon’s vice president of marketing and sales is EDA long timer Hal Conklin.

Hal Conklin, vice president of sales and marketing, responds to email.

As our conversation draws to a close, Bill and Rick confirm that Carbon will have more announcements focused on accuracy, speed and system-level design. It seems fitting to quote Thoreau, who wrote, “This world is but a canvas for our imagination,” in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849).

To learn more, visit Carbon’s website located at: Or, stop by Carbon’s corner of the ARM Booth (#921) and remember: Carbon Design Systems, an essential element for system-level designers.

(Editor’s Note: Nanette Collins manages Carbon’s Public Relations activities.)

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