SystemVerilog in the news (again)

Mentor Graphics Corp. announced it has acquired FirstEarth, a U.K.-based software company specializing in the supply of analysis software for design of electrical wiring systems used in automotive, rail and aerospace markets. FirstEarth products are already integrated with Mentor's Logical Cable schematic authoring tool and will be available through Mentor's direct channel immediately. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. FirstEarth was established in 1997 to develop and market software to automate Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and Sneak Circuit Analysis (SCA) for electrical systems.

ReShape, Inc. announced that Mark Bales has joined the company. Previously Bales was an R&D Fellow at Cadence Design Systems. In 1983, Bales co-founded SDA Systems, one of the precursor companies to Cadence, and in 1992 was a co-founder of HLD Systems. Most recently, Bales was heavily involved in the OpenAccess Design Database and a chief architect of the OpenAccess Change Team, the industry group that controls the evolution of the OpenAccess standard for interoperability among EDA vendors. Prior to Cadence, Bales worked at Hewlett Packard, Tektronix, and IBM. He has worked in EDA since 1979, and has a BSEE and an MSEE from U.C. Berkeley.

Joe Mastroianni, Vice President of Engineering at ReShape, told me by phone, “ In a small company, the titles are fluid. You could consider Mark Bales as a Fellow of the company, but our CTO could also be seen in that light. [Titles aside], Mark will be a big contributor to ReShape. And the fact that Mark and Board Chairman Dave Gregory were respectively involved at the inception of Cadence and Synopsys means that they're both familiar with the process of bringing products from conception through to market. Of course, we all know that Synopsys and Cadence tend to do things in slightly different ways, so we expect that ReShape will benefit from having both points of view here.”

“I doubt there will be any difficulty for Mark to transition to working in a small company. He was with SDA at the beginning - was actually in Jim Solomon's living room when the concepts for SDA were being developed - and is quite familiar with the dynamics of a small company. He was also a founding member of HDL with George Janac. I think Mark's got exactly the correct perspective for our situation here. He's got a really good grasp of what it takes to create an 'infrastructure' - although I'm reluctant to use that word - in that he's written three commercial-grade databases. He'll definitely be able to contribute to our infrastructure and database. He brings a great perspective on what the industry needs, especially though his experience with OpenAccess. ReShape is currently based on our ability to bring third-party tools together and leverage them for our customers. Marks knows how to determine what customers need in a CAD environment, how to store their data, and how to present things in a logical way. [In deciding to join ReShape], he took a look at our systems and felt he could help us out in all of these areas.”

VSIA (Virtual Socket Interface Alliance) and OCP-IP (Open Core Protocol International Partnership) announced a “strategic” alliance intended to jointly support the OCP socket and socket interface as an industry standard. Under this agreement, VSIA now endorses the OCP socket and OCP-IP becomes the first VSI Alliance Adoption Group continuing to focus on tools and support to promote the adoption of OCP. Additionally, OCP-IP receives “stewardship” of the previously developed VSIA Bus Attributes Specification and VCI Bus Interface Standard. As a result of this agreement, VSIA members are now granted free access to the OCP Standard. In anticipation of this agreement, OCP-IP has already merged the essential features of VCI into OCP 2.0.

Michael Kaskowitz, VSIA President, is quoted in the Press Release: “OCP-IP has done a tremendous job in gaining industry respect and momentum for the OCP Standard. We endorse this standard and support its adoption through the formally identified Adoption Group. We will be announcing other Adoption Groups that will support industry standards developed by VSIA or other respected groups.”

Ian Mackintosh, President of OCP-IP, is also quoted: “As the only open, fully supported industry standard socket, it is a natural evolution that the OCP standard is endorsed by VSIA. We look forward to continuing our already extensive work in evolving the OCP Standard and its supporting infrastructure and hope that this example will lead the way for similar industry collaborations.”

Silvaco International announced that it has acquired the assets of Simucad Inc. Simucad is a provider of Verilog logic and fault simulation software and was founded in 1981. It has a current user base of 9,000+ design engineers. The Press Release says that Simucad employees have relocated to the Silvaco Santa Clara, CA., campus for integration with Silvaco's product development, sales, and customer support teams.

Meanwhile - X-FAB and Silvaco announced an agreement to provide mutual customers with analog/mixed-signal process design kits that the companies say will result in “higher design productivity.” These kits will support Silvaco circuit simulation and IC CAD tools on X-FAB's XC06 processes.

Virage Logic Corp. announced the company has appointed Richard Lanham as Director of Japan Business. Lanham has 30 years' experience in the EDA and semiconductor IP industries in Japan and North America. Previously Lanham was with Cadence, Daisy Systems, and Meta-Software. He is quoted in the Press Release: “I look forward to further developing the partnerships Virage Logic has established with such Japanese market leaders as NEC, Fujitsu, Kawasaki, Oki, Rohm, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba to enable them to deliver even more innovative products. And, our establishment of dedicated customer support in Japan underscores our commitment to our customers in this important market."

Also from Virage Logic - The company announced it has broadened and renamed its partner program and has added 16 new members. The Virage Logic IP (VIP) Partner program replaces the Memory Alliance Program (MAP), originally established in March 2001, which the company says will “better support” the needs of Virage Logic's semiconductor IP platform customers. Greer Person, Vice President of Business Development for Virage, is quoted in the Press Release: “System-on-chip design encompasses many decisions and activities beginning with system-level conceptual design and ending with the shipment of packaged, tested parts. Our objective is to ensure that our customers move through this process as efficiently and reliably as possible.”

In the category of ...

Can M&A be a two-way street?

Giga Scale IC was announced last week as a spin-out of InTime Software. George Janac, formerly of InTime, but now of Giga Scale, and Bob Smith, now head of InTime made the following comments during a phone call this week, patiently answering yet more questions related to their business move. I asked them if they were going the wrong way on the one-way M&A street.

Janac said, “In some sense [the spin-out of Giga Scale from InTime] is linked to the history of the era. [At the height of the boom], there were lots of companies merged together that didn't belong together, companies that had little in common. But now, particularly in telecomm, you're seeing disaggregation coming back - for example the Motorola announcement this week (see below). InTime had grown fairly large, with our biggest opportunity being in the RTL timing analysis and floorplanning market. But [we wanted] Giga Scale IC to concentrate on a new market, the chip coding, system archtecture, and specification market. We were looking at tools for use early in the design process, what is a part going to cost, what is the best combination of libraries, process, memory for that chip. So I purchased the Giga Scale IC assets from InTime through a Series A buy-out - although I still have a role at InTime. These are interesting times, however, and we feel that what we're doing here [with this spin-out] is what's best for the shareholders of both companies.”

Smith said, “Focus is the operational word here, as opposed to during the mania when there wasn't such a big expectation to rapidly turn a profit in a new business. Frankly, for instance, a company like Magma started when there was ease in raising lots of money.”

“Today, however, the focus is on profit - Cash is King. InTime started with a compelling vision to address lots of things, however there [turned out to be] two markets [in the equation here]. It's too much to ask of our investors to have the one company [playing in two markets]. Although people are still very cautious today about spending, we are starting to see more project activity. Things are starting pick up a bit on the semiconductor market, and the broader markets are not doing too badly. But focus is still [the most important factor] in business decisions. Providing product focus means understanding our customers and their problems.

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