Dr. Jeong-Tyng Li – VP Physical Design Group:
These gentlemen are three of the six executives listed on the Company’s web site as the Executive Team. (The other three are Chairman & CEO Martin Lu, VP & CFO Jerry Wang, and VP Worldwide Sales & Support Bill Shep ar d) .
Of over 400 total employees, some 97% are in Johnson Teng’s organization, including Bill Shepard and Drs. Hsu and Li. The latter two men head groups that represent 38% and 33% of the Company’s total employees, respectively.
The time spent with the SpringSoft executives was delightful, beginning with a polite exchange of our respective EDA backgrounds. Their English skills were excellent, a fortunate circumstance since your writer’s familiarity with Taiwan consists solely of several trips to Taipei in the summer of 1989, searching for sources of corporate capital .
The subsequent discussions during the initial visit and since have revealed the backgrounds of all three SpringSoft men as seasoned veterans with extensive worldwide EDA experience and acumen. (More on this later; first a little SpringSoft history).
SpringSoft was founded on February 2, 1996 in Taiwan by Martin Lu, Johnson Teng and Jerry Wang. The original team was part of ECAD Systems in the 1980s, which upon merging with SDA Systems later became Cadence Design Systems.
The founders launched SpringSoft first by doing contract engineering work and by offering distribution for other EDA suppliers into the Taiwan market.
The team’s initial product development focus was on IC debugging. Debug tools help engineers understand design behavior and the causes of errors revealed by verification tools. The founders of SpringSoft developed the Debussy® Debug System, which improved the efficiency of finding errors. The small enterprise marketed Debussy as a standalone tool that worked with the major verification tools available from many then-current EDA suppliers. (Note SpringSoft’s first use of classical music composers in the naming of its products).
It was not long thereafter that SpringSoft also began development of the Laker™ Custom Layout System for IC layout. As with debugging, IC layout had become a very complex and painstaking process, requiring sophisticated software to automate what are virtually impossible tasks for humans to perform manually. And as with its debug solution, SpringSoft’s engineers invented unique technology to cope with the complexities.
To break into markets outside Taiwan, SpringSoft created a special business model by setting up independent companies to market and distribute its products in North America and in Europe.
For its debug products, it established Novas Software, Inc. in 1997, which had the responsibility of marketing, selling and supporting the Debussy system.
SpringSoft took its Taiwan operation public on the TASDAQ in 1999. (It later moved its stock listing to the TSE in 2001).
Soon after starting Novas, SpringSoft established Silicon Canvas to market, sell, and support the Laker system. A third company, named Novaflow, was set up in Japan in 2000, as a distributor for both the verification enhancement and custom IC design products. SpringSoft later backed another company, ForteLink, which was developing hardware-assisted verification technology. These companies were autonomous with their own management teams and boards.
Novas later helped develop the second generation debug product, the
Verdi™ Automated Debug System, as well as the
Siloti™ Visibility Automation System .
Novas also went on to be recognized by EDA users as the number-one-ranked EDA supplier in EE Times’ customer satisfaction surveys for five consecutive years.
Out of Many, One
In May 2008, SpringSoft combined all these independent companies into a single global corporate entity. First announced on April 1, 2008, SpringSoft’s purchase of the remaining shares of San Jose CA based Novas that it didn’t already own, brought Novas president Scott Sandler and Novas VP Sales into SpringSoft. While Mr. Sandler has since left the Company, Bill Shepard remains as head of worldwide sales for SpringSoft. At the time Novas was folded into SpringSoft, the Novas’ global community contained over 10,000 users and more than 50 third-party technology and service providers. SpringSoft also added another component to its corporate entity through the acquisition of start-up Nanovata, which complements the Laker technology).
By merging Novas, Silicon Canvas and Novaflow operations, SpringSoft became well positioned to realize more efficiency and leverage a single, proven channel worldwide to deliver its products.
In March of 2009, SpringSoft completed the acquisition of Certess, inventors of the world’s only functional qualification solution. This company’s product complements SpringSoft’s existing products and extends its verification enhancement franchise.
The Company organized its products into two lines that help engineers save time – the Novas Verification Enhancement solutions and the Laker Custom IC Design solutions. Both sets of award-winning products are based on open platforms that facilitate integration of other tools in the EDA design flow.
Verification Enhancement Solutions
The Verification Enhancement Solutions allow engineers to do more verification in less time. SpringSoft says it is the only EDA vendor specializing in verification enhancement solutions. The Novas line now includes the Verdi Automated Debug System, which cuts debug time in half; the Siloti Visibility Automation solution, which speeds up simulation; and the Certitude™ Functional Qualification system, which removes verification uncertainty by finding holes in verification environments. These products help unify the chip design flow by interoperating with third-party simulators using industry-standard languages and interfaces to improve design comprehension and productivity throughout the functional verification process.
Custom IC Design Solutions
SpringSoft’s Custom IC Design solutions are comprised of the Laker Custom IC Design products and are used at the physical design stage of IC design. With a custom row placer and digital router, a correct and optimized layout is critical to meeting design specifications and constraints such as chip area, power consumption, timing, and manufacturability. Containing many patented innovations, the Laker products definitely help engineers produce better results with less effort.
At the core of the Laker layout system is its patented Magic Cell (Mcell™) parameterized device technology and a built-in design rule check (DRC) engine that enable a powerful schematic driven layout flow.
The SpringSoft Community
SpringSoft’s primary market is the semiconductor industry, and its products are used by virtually all of the major and integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) who design digital, analog, and mixed signal devices. SpringSoft’s solutions are used to design microprocessors, digital signal processors (DSPs), application-specific ICs (ASICs), and other custom components. Customers are also found within the captive IC design groups of large systems companies that are developing products for applications ranging from computing, telecommunications, networking, wireless, games, automotive, medical, test and instrumentation.