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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Calypto’s Triple Threat: HLS, Equivalence checking, Power

March 24th, 2012 by Peggy Aycinena

When we last left our hero – that is, Mentor’s Catapult C high-level synthesis tool –  it had just been sold off to Calypto in a move that the companies said, “will create a better integrated ESL hardware realization flow.”

Now, some 7 months into the adventure, I spoke with Calypto’s recently appointed VP of Marketing Shawn McCloud at DVCon:

Shawn: Calypto specializes in the ESL hardware implementation flow. We’re accelerating design with Catapult, optimizing the design for power efficiency with PowerPro, and doing verification with SLEC, which provides equivalence checking from RTL-to-RTL, or from C-to-RTL.

Q: Who’s the competition?

Shawn: Nobody has all 3 of these products, but within high-level synthesis, it’s Forte – and yes, we are the new Mentor. For power, the competition is Apache and Atrenta, but they’re both manual solutions, while we’re automated. And, nobody has our equivalence checking capability.

Q: Your exit strategy?

Shawn: Our goal is to grow 25-to-30%, year over year, and then we will have a number of different options: acquisition, or even an IPO.

Q: How big is Calypto today?

Shawn: Right now, there are around 100 people, with our growth projections for next year set a 25%. That’s not hard to imagine. In the fiscal year we just finished, we had 38% growth in the fourth quarter, and 24% growth for the year overall.

And, we have a customer base that’s located all over the world, with the fastest growing region being North America – although we have a very strong installed base in Japan and Europe, as well.

Q: Why was Mentor selling Catapult good for Calypto?

Shawn: The better question is, why was it good for the customer?

If you go to any customer and ask them what’s missing in an ESL flow, they’ll talk about C-to-RTL equivalence checking.  Just as Synopsys has integration with Formality and DC, it’s to our customers’ advantage that SLEC and Catapult now work in an integrated flow.

At Calypto, we have the focus to do this. We’re going down the path to create an ESL hardware implementation flow that’s complete enough that we can deploy it across the [entire design flow].

Q: Isn’t that messaging counter-intuitive to people who believe in point tools?

Shawn: No. People want sequential C-to-RTL equivalence checking. It’s both highly desirable and needed in order to [guarantee] production-quality designs.

Q: Where does Forte fit into all of this?

Shawn: They’re a competitor against Catapult, but not against us. Forte has found itself in a difficult position today, because they only have synthesis.

If you talk to any customer, however, they also want verification methodology along with HLS tools, and they want to be able to address power.

Q: Sounds like you guys are feeling pretty confident.

Shawn: Absolutely.

We’ve got a recent survey from Launch Marketing that includes responses from all over the world: 24,000 engineers were contacted, with over 700 respondents, give or take 3% variation on their responses. The questions included: “What’s the most important technology to integrate into HLS?” and, “What’s the most important technology to integrate into HLS?”

The answers that came back were very informative. For Question No. 1, they said: “RTL synthesis, and we need good correlation with the downstream flow.”

For Question No. 2, they said: “Power.”

In Japan – a very educated, high-level synthesis savvy market – the respondents answered, “C-to-RTL equivalence checking” for Question No.1, and “RTL synthesis” for Question No. 2.

This is all really good for Calypto. We have an RTL synthesis engine in-house, which integrates with Catapult, plus we’ve got the only C-to-RTL equivalence checking, and the only push-button RTL power optimization tool.

Our integration is why it’s possible to have power, verification with SLEC, and HLS.


Editor’s note: Prior to Calypto, Shaun McCloud spent 18 years at Mentor Graphics.

Per his Calypto bio: “While at Mentor Graphics, Shaun held senior management positions in technical and product marketing before eventually taking over the High Level Synthesis (HLS) team in 2001 as product line director. Under Shawn’s leadership, the Catapult C high-level synthesis tool was launched and grew to over 50% market share.”


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