th is the release date.
What about existing Synopsys TCAD users who might wish to migrate to Sentaurus?
We have a pretty comprehensive upgrade path for existing customers. One thing I want to make clear is that the upgrade is dependent upon the customer. We are not asking them to migrate right away. We are maintaining some of the legacy products in terms of development and all that. The 3D base and customer timeline where typically they are looking at new technology they might want to migrate right away. But if they are continuing with existing technology, they may continue to use our existing tools. It's really up to the customer. We will work with our customers to design a package that will allow them to migrate very easily.
Would it be fair to say, if you are going to continue to develop the legacy products that the chief benefit for existing customers moving forward is related to the technology you acquired form ISE?
Yes, especially it gives you the 3D capability when you are looking at some of the effects you cannot comprehend, that gives you that advantage as well as being able to take advantage of the latest technology, the software architecture, making it more flexible for you to use.
Who do you see as the chief competitor in the TCAD arena?
Before the ISE acquisition it was ISE. Now we see some Silvaco here and there working with some of our customers. They are trying to take market share. But our chief competitor is Silvaco at this point.
Editor: Silvaco was founded in 1984 by Dr. Ivan Pesic to meet the demanding requirements of analog IC designers for SPICE model accuracy and linearity. The initial product, UTMOST (Universal Transistor MOdeling SofTware) model extraction system was used for parameter extraction, device characterization and modeling. In 1989 Silvaco entered into the technology computer aided design (TCAD) market building upon the excellent research from the Stanford University Department of Device Physics. Silvaco offers the Athena process simulator product and ATLAS device simulation product. Since then the company has expanded inot SPICE and IC CAD markets. In 2002 they received $20 million in a legal settlement from Avant!. The privately held company employs about 200 people
What do you think Synopsys market share is?
One of the reasons it is so hard to come up with a share number is that our competitors are privately held companies. There is no public record of their revenue. Also if you look at some of the companies traditionally have had a large TCAD development team of their own. They are developing some of their own internal tools. It's hard to come up with a number that is universal, one that people will agree on. But I think on the safe side being used by 19 of the top 20 to say between 80% and 90%.
Is this the type of product that is best suited for the top 20? Any market growth potential or just maintain market share?
If you look at the top 20 companies, they are leading edge companies so they use a lot of TCAD simulations. Simulation is getting more and more into their flow. They are going to be using more simulation. If you look at 5 to 10 packages, they may increase this. In some cases our customers are using hundreds of licenses. They need that for many different technologies. The way this platform is designed allows you to address across platforms all the other technologies. For example companies like Toyota design some of their power devices. They use our software to do power design simulations even though they are not in the top 20. Any company that is dealing with semiconductor technology can take advantage of this package. It allows you to look at the full spectrum of technologies. So it is not just limited to the top 20 companies. The growth is really within these companies by increasing their use of TCAD. You can see in the ITS Roadmap, the cost reduction of 40% is not insignificant for technology development.
Are the major fabs (TSMC, UMC, Chartered) major customers of Synopsys TCAD?
Yes, they are all our customers.
The benefits increase as you go from 90 nm to 65 nm to 45 nm. There are a lot of new technologies in a number of different areas. How does Synopsys keep current and validate the accuracy of the simulation?
We work very closely with some of the equipment vendors. You might have seen some of the papers and announcements. We work with Applied Materials on the equipment side. At the same time we work with a lot of researchers in the field. If you look at our customer base we have a large number coming from academia, universities or research institutes. We give them low priced software. We get feedback from them about what is new, what works best, what is missing. When they are looking at the latest research we work very closely with them. We have a large development staff that is very knowledgeable about not just simulation but also the physics. Several of them are technologists, some are computer scientists. But they work very closely with researchers and equipment vendors so that we keep up-to-date with the latest development technologies.
Consider this analogy. In the aerospace industry you simulate the strength of materials. As the industry moved to the use of composite materials, the then existing simulation tools did not apply. They had to be fundamentally changed to take into account the new material types. In the semiconductor arena there are lots of changes in terms of devices, processes and materials. Keeping the simulation software current must be quite a challenge.
You are absolutely right. There are two approaches. One if you use existing models we allow the flexibility to input material properties into your simulation so that we can model it. In some cases you may not get the accuracy needed for people to do exploration. Sometimes they are only interested in qualitatively trends so they can see if this material combined with this kind of structure would work or not, whether for example it gives you a higher charge current or lower charge current. Qualitatively they can do that. The other approach that I forgot to mention to earlier and that this platform includes is Monte Carlo or particle type simulation for both process and device simulation. So now you can really go down to the fundamental physics, looking at the Monte Carlo simulation, looking at first principles. Seeing where the electron is hitting what lattice, what happens to this particular technology and this particular material? Monte Carlo simulation takes longer. Imagine that you have one doping going in there and it strikes silicon add-ons how much interaction it creates. Monte Carlo simulation tracks all that basically looking at first principles of your physics and getting that type of information. That is another type of modeling capability we have I this platform. Customers can look at new materials, new technologies even without a lot of the data available to them.
Are there any customer testimonials concerning Sentaurus?
Customers are not using Sentaurus because this is new. However, the technology it is based on has been endorsed by some customers. We have a couple of quotes from our customers. We don't quote everyone and not everyone wants to be quoted. We have a few customers that have been using Synopsys or ISE technology before and have validated that this technology using TCAD can really help them during product development as well as research by having these Synopsis and ISE best-in-class TCAD features put together in a single platform. We allow them to move forward and continue to use TCAD for their development work as well as using it for manufacturing control.
Editor: The October 17th press announcement cites Toshiba and Fairchild Semiconductor
How large a customer base did ISE have?
The number of customers was large. Going through the top 20, more than half were using ISE and the balance were using Synopsys as their main TCAD tool.