Agilent EEsof EDA – Part II

I. Introduction:

The initial EDA Weekly article on Agilent EEsof EDA appeared in on Monday February 01, 2010. See Agilent EEsof EDA -- Part I.

The EEsof EDA component of Agilent Technologies Incorporated is headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA (across the Golden Gate Bridge, up 101, some 58 miles north of San Francisco) :

During the very first interview in January 2010 with the Agilent EEsof EDA management in Santa Rosa, it became clear to this writer that one installment of EDA Weekly would prove insufficient to adequately describe the intricate 27-year evolution of this unique enterprise.

Thus it was that Part I was devoted to the founding of EEsof itself in 1983, then covering events up to EEsof's friendly acquisition by Hewlett Packard (HP) in 1993, a marriage that combined the two primary competitors then supplying early users of Radio Frequency (RF) and Microwave (MW) electronics design & analysis software tools.

Part II herein is itself divided into two incrementally successful periods for EEsof: the 1993-1999 phase of EEsof as a part of HP:

and then the 2000 - 2010 decade of EEsof as a division of Agilent Technologies:

Moreover, the future looks bright for Agilent EEsof EDA, as the group has emerged in recent years to command a 63% share of the worldwide market for RF & MW circuit simulation software, and today EEsof is nearly four times larger than its nearest competitor [source: Gary Smith EDA (GSEDA) - a leading provider of market intelligence for the global EDA and related technology market].

But this enduring market leadership position has not gone to the heads of EEsof personnel.
Everyone this writer encountered at Agilent EEsof EDA exhibited the same primary characteristic - a focus on the technical and business successes of EEsof customers. Fostering this culture has apparently been the hallmark of EEsof management policy since the pre-merger days of the early nineties when intense competition between EEsof and HP as separate entities often proved unproductive to all concerned, according to several current long-time EEsof customers polled by this writer.

Agilent EEsof EDA people simply ignore the ongoing attempts by present-day competitors to lure EEsof back into the unproductive fray. When some unprofessional criticisms appeared recently from EEsof rivals after Part I was posted, the Agilent folks maintained their cool attitudes. “After 27 years, the business definitely gains some real insights into what works and what doesn't. It's easy to get drawn into a culture where you get overly focused on your competitors. The problem with that is, competitors come and go,” stated Larry Lerner, Agilent EEsof R&D Manager [1]. “What motivates us is helping our customers with the tough technical and business challenges they face. That continues to be the overwhelming part of our DNA.”

II. EEsof EDA after the Acquisition by HP:

The 1993 acquisition of EEsof by HP has long been regarded by company veterans sampled by the writer, as one of the most successful acquisitions HP had ever done up to that time.

“As with any acquisition, there were lots of business and integration issues to sort out during 1993-94,” says 20-year HP/Agilent EEsof veteran Charles Plott, now heading Product Marketing and Planning at Agilent EEsof [2]. “On the employee side, everything went pretty well. As a merged organization we had amassed the world's leading brain trust in RF EDA. EEsof added some very talented people to the newly combined HP entity - many of whom are still with the organization in leadership roles 17 years later.”

Even as the ink was still drying on the acquisition agreement in 1993, the newly combined marketing and product development teams from HP and EEsof began thinking about how their mutual customers could quickly benefit from the merger. “On the product front, there were a couple of quick wins to pursue,” said Charles Plott. “For example, there were parts of the EEsof software product portfolio that HP customers longed for, like Omnisys (EEsof's RF System Simulator).”

There were also parts of the HP portfolio that EEsof customers could leverage, such as the HP electromagnetic (EM) simulation technology. “One of the first relatively straightforward projects we implemented was porting the HP Momentum planar electromagnetic (EM) solver product to EEsof's Series IV platform,” said Larry Lerner. “Momentum had been, and continues to be, a very successful part of our technology portfolio, so quickly making it accessible from EEsof's Series IV platform was a pretty easy decision.”

However, a potentially huge project loomed on the horizon for HP EEsof. Prior to the merger, each company had independently implemented its own proprietary flagship software platform - HP had developed its Microwave Design System (MDS), differing in many unique ways from EEsof's Series IV platform. Both companies had large installed bases of loyal customers. Both companies had large overlaps in simulation technologies and model sets.

Rather than try to choose one platform over the other, the newly merged HP and EEsof leadership made a courageous decision: its commingled software development team would embark on a multi-year project to develop a totally new platform that would combine the best ideas and technologies from both HP and EEsof, and add some new features and functions as well. Internally, the project was named DE 1.0 (Design Environment 1.0), and at introduction it was officially re-named the Advanced Design System (ADS). Years later the investment has paid off, and today ADS is widely acknowledged to be the most used software platform in the world for RF & MW design.

“The decision to build ADS was a risky one. It was by far the most complex and most expensive project ever attempted by the HP Test & Measurement Group. It was also a heavily constrained project with many must-have requirements. In fact, we didn't nail all of them down at the outset. It was a several year endeavor and a continual challenge to manage, always weighing the trade-offs among scope, schedule, and resources,” said Larry Lerner. “But looking back on it, it was the right decision and we have always appreciated the many customers and partners that worked closely with us through that important period of our history.”

Original Cover Article Introducing the
1st Generation of ADS
Microwaves & RF Magazine: November 1999

In parallel to the large ADS project, there were other groups within EEsof that were pursuing innovations and new simulation technologies during the 1993 - 1999 HP EEsof years. For example, in addition to time-domain and frequency domain simulators, a new technology called “Circuit Envelope Simulation” was also being patented and introduced by HP EEsof. Later in this 7-year period, still another R&D team was working on the integration of a complete data flow simulator called HP Ptolemy. The Ptolemy engine was well known and the technology was proven with origins going back to UC Berkeley. Both of these technologies set a foundation for ADS to handle uniquely the complicated digital modulation standards that were yet to come.

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Review Article
  • Jon Gedymin April 07, 2010
    Reviewed by 'Jon G'
    A great article! X-parameters are distruptive today just as S-parameters were 30 years ago! I feel good being part of a company that looks ahead and takes the R&D risks to make major contribuitions that change our industry. Thank you!

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