September 29, 2003
Make New Friends, but Keep The Old
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Peggy Aycinena - Contributing Editor

by Peggy Aycinena - Contributing Editor
Posted anew every four weeks or so, the EDA WEEKLY delivers to its readers information concerning the latest happenings in the EDA industry, covering vendors, products, finances and new developments. Frequently, feature articles on selected public or private EDA companies are presented. Brought to you by If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Fundamental changes in the electronic component industries are driving this requirement for more integration, particularly the move to large FPGAs, which creates the need to integrate the board-level and FPGA-level design processes. This is because of the high FPGA pin-counts and the large portion of board-level logic now going onto the FPGA. The inclusion of embedded software technology and IP cores will allow the incorporation of microcontrollers and processors into these FPGAs. This combination of hardware and software design capabilities within a single platform will allow mainstream engineers to approach design at the system level using the skills and methodologies with which they are
already familiar.

The high cost, complexity and poor integration of current design flows now constitutes a significant barrier for the bulk of the electronics industry to the point where only the biggest companies have resources sufficient to overpower these obstacles. Altium will provide a comprehensive solution to this problem which has been engineered, packaged and priced for the balance of the industry.

Acquisition of NeuroCad Inc. for NeuroRoute autorouting technology. Since purchase, this technology has been developed and extensively re-engineered by Altium for inclusion as standard in the full-featured Protel and P-CAD product lines - the latest generation is referred to as “Situs” topological autorouting technology.

This acquisition was the first in a long line of substantial technology purchases aimed at taking Altium to the fore of the EDA industry by differentiating and positioning Altium's products as 'complete design solutions', as opposed to the path taken by most, if not all other vendors, which provided a collection of what are really “point tool solutions”. For example, the process of printed circuit board (PCB) design includes the processes of schematic capture, circuit board layout, autorouting, logical and physical circuit analysis and generation of various manufacturing outputs. Altium believes that all of these technologies must be included in any board design solution. More
than this,
users should expect these technologies to be seamlessly incorporated into the standard design flow of a single application and solution, rather than being treated as separate processes.

Acquisition of CUPL Programmable Logic Device (PLD) compiler technology from Logical Devices. This technology is currently featured in Altium's Protel and nVisage products.

Acquisition of signal integrity technology source code license from INCASES Engineering GmbH. This technology has been actively developed and is included in Altium's Protel and P-CAD products, where it is supplied as a standard feature of the full package, not as a high-priced extra. This is in line with our core philosophy to provide the widest possible access to technologies, and to integrate into the standard tool mix previously expensive and restricted technologies.

Acquisition of MicroCode Engineering. When Altium acquired Microcode it sold two main products - CircuitMaker (schematic capture & simulation) and TraxMaker (PCB layout and routing). Following the acquisition, Altium bundled the technologies together and released the “CircuitMaker 2000” product, eliminating the need to purchase multiple products and giving entry-level designers & electronic design educators a Virtual Electronics Lab in one low-cost package. MicroCode's mixed-mode simulation technology has also been extensively developed post-acquisition and features as standard in Altium's Protel, P-CAD and nVisage products.

Acquisition of Accolade Design Automation. Accolade Design Automation, Inc., was a system-integrator and producer of VHDL simulation and VHDL-based FPGA design solutions. At the time of the acquisition, Accolade primarily sold two product lines - PeakFPGA & PeakVHDL - with Accolade OEM'ing much of the technology from Green Mountain and Metamore Inc.

Acquisition of VHDL compiler and simulation technology (permanent, unrestricted source-code license) from Green Mountain Computing Systems. The acquisition of the Accolade product line, coupled with the acquisition of the Green Mountain source code (an important technology component of Accolade's PeakVHDL simulation products) provided Altium with key VHDL and FPGA design technology and products. These technologies are core to Altium's strategy of providing accessible, integrated solutions for all aspects of electronic design, from the initial phases of design entry to the physical realization of components on a board including FPGAs.

Acquisition of ACCEL Technologies, Inc. This acquisition was somewhat different from the selected technology driven acquisitions that both preceded and followed the acquisition of ACCEL, and was initially seen as a market share growth opportunity. However, through innovative re-design of the former ACCEL product line and a re-structuring of ACCEL's sales model to rapidly integrate it into its own sales structure, Altium was able to turn what was essentially a loss making business into a positive cash flow business in less than four months. In fact by June 2000, five months after the acquisition, sales of the reinvigorated P-CAD brand surpassed all previous revenue records held in the
history of Accel Technologies, Inc. Further P-CAD product releases strengthened and encouraged brand loyalty by providing customers with all necessary tools for specialised PCB design without increasing the cost of tools.

Acquisition of Innovative CAD Software, Inc. best known for their CAMtastic Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) software product line. Altium continues to develop and sell the CAMtastic product as an independent CAM verification tool and has also integrated the CAM technology into the Protel & P-CAD product lines as a standard feature.

Acquisition of Metamor Inc. for FPGA/VHDL synthesis technology. The acquisition of Metamor and its widely used FPGA synthesis products, combined with the acquisitions the previous year of Accolade Design Automation and the Green Mountain VHDL simulator, gave Altium the necessary design technology to further broaden its product range and spearhead its participation in the FPGA design market - one of the fastest-growing EDA market segments.

Today these technologies are featured in Altium's nVisage FPGA design tool and will also live in future BoC technology-based products.

Acquisition of TASKING BV. products continue to be developed, marketed and sold as Altium's world-leading brand of tools for embedded software development for targeted processor architectures. Furthermore this acquisition of embedded software development tools is very much a key component of Altium's strategy to define the next generation of the electronic design tools, and to further its strongly-held view about the need for convergence between the EDA and embedded software domains.

Various microprocessor IP core and virtual component acquisitions from vendors such as Evatronix S.A., Silicore Corp., and CAST Inc.

For now, Altium has all the necessary technology it needs to produce its next-generation design products. The major ongoing development project has been to integrate the acquired technologies with Altium's in-house technology. This work is now nearing fruition as evidenced by our recent BoC technology demonstrations (May 2003) - the first of many such announcements in this area in the near future.

Altium's acquisition strategy, however, is very much an ongoing process - as we see new emerging technologies and processes becoming important for mainstream engineers, we will seek to add them to our existing tools or generate new product lines. Altium's uniquely scaleable and opportunistic business model is aimed at directly connecting engineers with design technologies. Our acquisition strategy has been formed to compliment our internal development and is designed to support this business model.

Industry News -- Tools and IP

Aptix Corp. announced that the ARM926EJ-S core-based Soft Macrocell Model (SMM) runs on Aptix pre-silicon prototyping systems, the Aptix System Explorer and the Aptix Software Integration Station, and is now available for immediate use by Aptix customers. The companies say that ARM processor system designers now can use ARM IP and “take advantage of the speed and debugging capability of the Aptix systems.”

Axis Systems, Inc. announced that SOC Design Center of Canon Inc. has acquired an Xtreme-II emulation system to verify SoC designs used in next generation copiers, digital cameras and printers. The companies say that the Xtreme-II will be used in the SOC Design Center at Canon's Platform Technology Development headquarters in Japan. The Canon design team will use the Xtreme-II system for simulation acceleration and targetless emulation on multiple levels of abstraction, including gates, RTL, and behavioral, as well as for the verification of software early in the design cycle. Yasuhiro Tani, General Manager of SOC Design Center, is quoted in the Press Release: "After evaluating
Axis' technology, we expect to see dramatic reductions in design time as all of our designers start to use the Xtreme-II system with its small form factor, ease of use, and HW/SW co-verification capability."

BindKey Technologies, Inc. announced its RapiDesignClean layout tool will adopt the OpenAccess database, which the company says will enable tight links with the newly introduced Cadence Virtuoso custom design platform. Tom Daspit, Director of Marketing for BindKey, is quoted in the Press Release: "Support for OpenAccess is an integral part of our commitment to making RapiDesignClean's unique, must-have advantages available to as many layout engineers as possible. In addition to supporting OpenAccess, we are also a member of the Cadence Connections Program. Our participation on both fronts
further contributes to open interoperability and ensures ease of tool integration for our
mutual customers."

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To read more news, click here.

-- Peggy Aycinena, Contributing Editor.


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