February 19, 2007
Fast-SPICE with Nascentric
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Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
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What are the principally challenges you and for Nascentric?

The challenges are the same as for any EDA startup. Version 1.0 goes to the customer and the customer comes back and says I need this and this in order to put the product into my flow. The challenge is that we accept those and we have to prioritize those and deliver to the customer. The other side of the challenge would be traditionally compete against the big boys.

The large companies do not really sell technology. They just take a chunk of the budget. If a customer has a $40 million budget, they say give me $30 million and you can take as many copies of this, that and whatever you want. You can mix and remix all this stuff. By the way I have been guilty of this while I was at Cadence. It is particularly challenging for us to differentiate ourselves in that environment. We need to have a significant advantage on performance, accuracy and be able to deliver to the customer and say okay here’s what we can offer you. That’s really the challenge.

Then there is always the traditional challenge of a startup. Big companies will say I know that Cadence has been around 40 years and will probably be here for the next 20 years. Prove to me that you will be around. We have to find those perspective customers who have vision, the visionaries, and who have the wherewithal within their companies to go and root for us. It’s a tall order. It’s doable and I have done it before.

If I am a prospect for you product and what you are selling is performance and capacity, how long does it take me to evaluate, to benchmark your product?

That’s a very good question. We are actually being evaluated in a competitive benchmark right now. I can tell you from that experience the prospective customer will come and say these are all the things I need for my evaluation. Do you have that? Let’s say we have all those things. We come in and install our software and work with you. You find out that we have XYZ but we don’t have ABC. Often the specs, the requirements are not complete. Sometimes it is easy to do it overnight. Being a startup we can actually send out our VP of Engineering to the customer. He will take the source code along on his laptop and make the changes onsite. There is no way you can
expect Synopsys or Cadence to do that. That’s a different ballgame. They are in a different space.

We believe that we can turn things around very quickly, in a matter of weeks. At the end of the day, we have to show customers not only that we are better, faster, and more accurate and have more capacity but that also we are able to adapt to changing requirements faster. That’s where the winning recipe is at Nascentric.

Denise: That’s a good point. When you look at designs, every design is a little bit different. Every design type is a little bit different. If you are looking at memories there may be some memories that have a lot of feed forward or feedback in them and there may be memories that don’t. Depending upon the type of memories you are running will determine what the overall performance the customer might expect to see. One of the benefits that we bring is that because we are such a young simulator company is that we go into those environments where we are being evaluated against other simulators and once we can find out exactly the type of memory someone is designing, we can
modify or even create anew engine specifically optimized to suit that deign type. The customer can basically get a simulator that’s very well tuned to their specific design type.

Rahm: Also keep in mind that we don’t have the burden of legacy. A lot of our competitors have been in the market for a long time. This is really Marketing 101. They simply can not turn around quickly even if they wanted to due to the sheer weight of their baggage. We are fundamentally executing a game changing play her. Our technology will differentiate itself because once you get below 65 nm, it’s a game changing event. No longer will device delays be good enough. The interconnect dominates the parasitics and the interplay between the parasitics. All this stuff is going on is unbelievable. Even the traditional Fast-SPICE simulator companies have to go back to the drawing
board. It’s not just us that have to do this. Everyone is being pushed because once you go to 65 nm and 45 nm, the whole thing is different. That’s exactly why we believe we have an opportunity to shine in the market..

How do you see the market on a geographical basis? Do certain geographies represent a greater opportunity?

I would say that 40% is the US, 40% Japan/Asia. Keep in mind that we are closely tied to the fabrication of the chip. In Silicon Valley a lot of things happen. In North America out of the 40% probably 60% to 70% is here in the Bay area and northern California. The strategy for the company is to start out in North America where we want to be successful. We will slowly enter the Asian market as we move along later this year.

As you enter the Asian market, do you intend to go direct or to use distributors?

My experience has been that in this market you need partners, primarily distributors. In Japan for example, it just does not make sense to go direct. The costs are prohibitively high. You have to understand local culture and so we usually go with distributors in Japan. We will augment that with a person hired by the company based here in the US or in the Asian market. The same thing goes for Korea and Taiwan. The way we will go is to start from Japan and then go to Korea, Taiwan, China and India.

Do you have an estimate for the size of the Fast-SPICE market?

Denise: The way we look at the Fast-SPICE market is that there is a traditional market that has been for analysis and verification of large memories, SRAM, DRAM and flash as well as mixed signal. And then there is an expanded Fast-SPICE market. People need to be able to get a bit more accuracy than they have been able to traditionally get with Fast-SPICE tools for things like characterization if someone is generating a compiler they need to be able to characterize hundreds of different data points on that memory to create that compiler. They need much more accuracy then what they have been able to get. They need a simulator that has more capacity than what they have been able
to get with traditional SPICE cut methods. If we take a look at all that combined market, you are probably looking at $200 million to $250 million.

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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.


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