Linux Lunges into the Limelight

Cedric Iwashina, Director of Corporate Marketing at Monterey Design Systems - “We have ported all of our applications over to Linux, and many of our customers insist on Linux. We release our products on our two primary platforms at the same time - Solaris and Linux. Linux is a 'must' - the economic and performance considerations are too compelling to be ignored. EDA has always suffered the burden of having to support multiple hardware/software platforms; it is simply part of the cost of doing business. Our customers understandably seek out the most cost-effective platform solutions, but any savings on hardware are offset by the hidden cost to the customer of supporting application software on multiple platforms. It's true, engineers love the performance, while IT managers' jobs are complicated by the lower reliability of the Linux platforms and by having to support multiple platforms on heterogeneous networks. EDA, however, is accustomed to supporting multiple platforms.”

Graham Bell, Director of Marketing at Nassda Corp. - “All of our verification and analysis products run on Linux. These are ideal applications for Linux since designers are always looking for faster results and can take advantage of low-cost hardware that runs at clock speeds up to 3 GHz. Linux is not a poor stepchild in our development process. We run regressions every night on our Linux versions. Linux adoption is continuing, and we find that customers are accelerating their interest now that Cadence supports both their analog and mixed-signal design environments on Linux. Resources are not a problem in supporting Linux. One question we do have is, 'How quickly will engineers be moving to 64-bit Linux, and how popular will the Intel and AMD architectures be?' Yes, engineers love Linux because it feels like Unix, runs 2x-3x faster, and is a viable alternative to Bill Gates' Windows. IT people want to support fewer platforms, not more. EDA is looking for anything that will sell more licenses, and if that means customers' Linux support, then it will be broadly adopted.”

Mark Williams, CEO at Pulsic - “Pulsic has ported all its applications over to the Linux platform. The company develops its products within a single development environment that builds on all platforms simultaneously. So every release of every product is available on all platforms at the same time. Many of our customers have said they would like our products to support Linux, due to the great value-for-money it delivers, in terms of power versus cost. In general, the feedback from our customers indicates that currently the market is impressed with Linux, but we firmly believe (a belief we know is shared with many of our customers) that once a 64-bit PC-based system is available, the Linux solution will become tremendously compelling. Pulsic has had to spend little time on adding the Linux platform to its platform portfolio. However, our customers have found that the transition to Linux is not quite as straightforward, for various reasons - for example, some other EDA tools do not support Linux, or they work less efficiently under Linux. Another issue - Linux is perceived by some groups as not as stable as the other more established hardware vendors, such as Sun and HP. It's true that engineers love Linux, while IT managers are ambivalent. EDA is seemingly ambivalent, but ultimately companies simply must aim to include Linux within their product strategy, or they will get left behind in the wake of those that already do.”

Rajiv Kumar, COO, Vice President and Co-Founder of Real Intent Corp. - “We support our products on Linux. We release everything at the same time on all Unix platforms - Linux, Solaris and HP-UX. Our Linux solutions are in demand due to the high-performance and low-cost solutions of Linux platforms. We spend just the right amount of time on Linux, since we recognized Linux demand from day one and have proactively built support for it. Engineers love Linux due to high performance at low cost, and EDA has embraced the idea that it needs to do it. But there are some business problems with Linux - lack of support, a very fast release train, lack of guaranteed forward binary compatibility. These will delay the adoption. The EDA industry and the Linux providers need to address these problems together.”

Bob Dahlberg, Vice President of Development at ReShape, Inc. - “Linux is our preferred platform - everything we do is Linux first. A Sun [platform] is needed in a physical design shop because they support 64-bit. You need 64-bit to support large chips in doing physical design verification like extraction and DRC. We are developing our tools/products in one environment and then porting over to Linux and releasing everything at the same time. We develop in Linux first, and port to Sun second. Meanwhile, we have not talked to a single customer that does not believe that Linux in their shop is inevitable. The price/performance is too compelling - 2x to 3x the speed at one-half to one-third the cost. Larger corporations have legacy with Suns and HPs to deal with, but even they are making way [for Linux]. As a new company, ReShape can support the new trend in hardware more easily than an established EDA house. Today is not unlike the time when Synopsys/Cadence were getting started in the late 1980's, and when Sun and X Windows were overtaking Apollo and DEC VAX as the preferred EDA standard platform. Synopsys never had to support Apollo/DEC as those standards faded. With apologies to Vince Lombardi, 'Linux is the thing. The only thing.' The price/performance advantage is just too compelling.”

“It's true that engineers love Linux, but for now, IT managers do not. They don't like anything new as a rule, but they're being hammered to reduce costs. EDA companies are not ambivalent. EDA companies in their youth have always loved the fastest box. In its earliest days, Mentor pushed the Apollo DN660. Valid was the first to push the Sun3, which at the time was the first 1MIP workstation. Now that fine tradition lives on with the Linux wave. ReShape loves it. Synopsys' VCS group hopped on to Linux at least two years ago. (VCS R&D knows that speed sells.) Magma is touting it. It's only the out-of-touch EDA companies that support last generation's fastest box, who remain ambivalent about Linux.”

Mitch Mastellone, CTO for Synchronicity, Inc. - “Synchronicity has two main product lines, the Developer Suite for design collaboration and management and the Publisher Suite for design reuse, IP distribution, and support. We started shipping the Developer Suite on Linux last year and the larger, server-oriented Publisher Suite will be available on Linux before the end of 2003. Once we announce support for a particular OS like Red Hat Linux 7.3, new releases arrive simultaneously with versions for other OSs. We have a mixed OS development environment. Though it's mostly Solaris, we also use HP-UX, AIX, Windows, and Linux machines, so we can build and test every night on all the platforms we support. We have 120+ customers and they range from Linux activists to being totally indifferent. With its strong potential performance/price ratio on 32-bit machines, many of our customers are adopting Linux and we have responded to this significant customer demand by supporting the common variants of Linux.”

“Since we primarily develop our software on other flavors of Unix, supporting Linux is not difficult, but the number of configurations adds to our quality test burden. The flipside is, the standardization of Unix-related platforms (e.g., a common underlying kernel) should help us reduce that complexity going forward. Both the complications and potential solutions apply to our customers as well. Again, there is a range of love for Linux in the marketplace. Some engineers love it because they have more control, which might makes some IT people nervous. At other companies, the IT department is trying to force Linux roll-outs as a cost-saving measure, but the engineers really love their proven Solaris or HP-UX. The various support models evolving in the marketplace will also affect Linux adoption.”

Synopsys Inc. - “Synopsys has ported all our products to Linux. We were an early adopter and announced our first major products on Linux in 2000. Our product line is extensive, while developing and porting across environments varies internally. When our products are released on a primary platform such as Linux, all products are released at the same time. We've been selling Linux-based versions of our tools for a couple of years. Our customers are indicating their support for Linux by way of their purchases. We're spending the right amount of time to give our customers Linux-based products. With regards to the true/false questions - Linux has too many aspects to be categorized in this simple fashion.”

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