What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.
M&A: Mentor acquires BDA
March 21st, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena
It’s Friday afternoon and spring is busting out all over, so why would anyone want to sit on a conference call and talk about EDA? Well, if you were Ravi Subramanian, President and CEO of Berkeley Design Automation, you would. The company he leads has just been sold to Mentor Graphics and today’s his day to celebrate the feat with the press.
I spoke with Ravi for 20 minutes this afternoon and remembered straightaway why he is the real thing. Well spoken, fully informed, and completely disciplined in his presentation, still his extreme delight with the acquisition was in full view as he patiently fielded my questions.
“Knowing you can’t answer, I’ll ask anyway: How much is Mentor paying?” I asked.
Subramanian answered, “You’re right, I can’t answer that. The terms have not been disclosed.”
What about his seat on the EDAC Board of Directors?
Subramanian said, “One company cannot have two seats on the board, so I expect over the next quarter that will be resolved. EDAC has a formal process for this, and we’ll respect that process.”
And BDA’s booth at DAC?
Subramanian responded with joyful certainty, “We are Mentor at DAC!”
“Good,” I said, “because they tend to have the best espressos.”
I asked about any cultural mis-match, Berkeley to the heart of Oregon where Mentor’s located.
Subramanian said, “Well, I’m not aware of any cultural mis-match. In fact, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with the Mentor team, prior to making the decision with them that we share a common culture. Those who work with BDA know our culture – it’s unique, people love working here – and we share many of these same traits with Mentor Graphics.”
“Where is BDA located?” I asked.
“We are in Santa Clara, and Mentor’s facility here is in Fremont. We’ll be moving to the Mentor facility very soon,” Subramanian responded.
How many BDA employees are moving over to Mentor?
Subramanian was again elated: “Pretty much the whole team, all of the application developers, R&D, and the market development team, as well as some of our key sales strategy areas.”
Offering him an opportunity to brag, I asked: “Why is the purchase good for Mentor?”
Subramanian gave a complex answer: “Mentor gets industry-proven leading nanometer verification applications from BDA, an outstanding development team, and the world’s most advanced nanometer circuit verification platform.”
And why is the purchase good for BDA?
“We get to partner with a company,” he said, “with a rich set of technologies in analytics, particularity in the automotive and industrial area. We get access to Mentor’s worldwide channel and their impeccable reputation with their customers. And finally, we get the opportunity to integrate our tools into the Questa functional platform and Calibre manufacturing tools to enable new types of power analysis – physical and electrical validation and simulation.”
“How many tools does Mentor get by way of the acquisition?” I asked.
Subramanian said, “They get our full portfolio, our Analog FastSPICE, the AFS simulator, mega and nano, analog-mixed/signal capabilities, and the underlying platform for noise analysis and RF analysis.”
“Tell me about your initial vision for the company,” I asked.
He said, “That’s an interesting question: To become the leading platform for next-generation analog/mixed-signal design at the time of the early birth of RF CMOS technology. Building high-frequency circuits on bulk CMOS was not de rigueur at the time. In fact, it was thought to be a little crazy to do it. Now it’s considered crazy not to do it.”
Mentioning my conversation last week with Mentor’s Joe Sawicki about the challenges of marching down from node to node, I asked if the purchase of BDA relates to those challenges.
Subramanian said, “Yes, because there are three things that change in marching down, node to node.
“First is the sheer complexity of mixed-signal circuitry, not just the number of transistors and parasitics, but also the circuit architecture at smaller nodes. The time resolution is much better than the voltage resolution, but analog designers have traditionally used voltage. As time resolution gets better, however, the circuit architecture dramatically changes, so you need to find different capabilities in the tools.
“The second thing has to do with the amount of variability that one has to deal in moving from node to node. Process parameters have much more variability, so we have much more difficulty predicting performance when the physical parameters are varying. And we need more analysis to do that.
“Finally, the smaller geometries require more analysis, not just simulation or traditional SPICE, but analyzing the thermal affects, electro-migration, signal integrity, and packaging. All of these effects require very fine analysis from core verification.
“We have strengths in Areas 1 and 2, complexity and variably, while Mentor has strength in Areas 2 and 3, variability and analytics. Combining the companies will allow us to combine these strengths, which will make the march down from node to node a greater possibility.”
“One last question, who will pay for the champagne?” I asked. “You or Wally?”
Subramanian ended our conversation with a very hearty laugh. “I don’t know, because we haven’t planned the party. But there will definitely be a party!”
WILSONVILLE, Ore., March 21, 2014 – Mentor Graphics Corp. (NASDAQ: MENT) today announced that it has acquired Berkeley Design Automation, Inc. (BDA), a recognized leader in nanometer analog, mixed-signal, and RF circuit verification. With over one hundred customers worldwide, BDA uniquely addresses nanometer circuit design challenges via its Analog FastSPICE™ unified verification platform and exceptional vertical-application expertise. The acquisition of BDA aligns with Mentor’s goal to deliver technologies with superior performance and automation for the growing challenges of Analog/Mixed-Signal (AMS) verification.
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