October 22, 2007
Can a Firm Prosper or Even Survive, If It Gives Away Its Product?
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How much revenue is Ciranova generating?
We do not disclose revenue. We are a private company.
I always ask.
And you should.
Good luck with you business model.
If we can add value people will use us to make chips and we will be able to build a business.
Editor: During this interview I thought I had received a negative reply to my question concerning availability of commercial products but I saw references in the press to such a product. I contacted Ciranova’s VP of Marketing Dave Millman who had been on the interview call for a clarification.
PyCell Studio is the design environment. That is the free product. It has been downloaded probably by 700 different users in 41 or 42 different companies since it was released for free at the beginning of 2006 almost two years ago. That product is free. We offer professional commercial support ala the Red Hat model that we had discussed.
There is a second product we introduced late last year called PCell Xtreme. That product solves different PCell related problems. What it does is two different things. Remember we discussed supermasters, submasters and instances. One thing about submasters, the on-screen representation of PCells in a layout editor is that they are not saved to disk. One of the benefits of PCells when it was invented 20 years ago was it saved disk space because all that was ever saved for a particular instance was a pointer to the code which is very efficient and then the parameters. That’s all that is necessary to describe the transistors. That’s the good news. The bad news especially in an era of cheap, essentially free disk space is that the representation of the transistor is not kept on disk. It is blown away when you close the data base. What that means is each time the data is opened for any operation (and these days there are dozens of operations from DRC to DFM to analysis to simulation to all kinds of things) those PCells need to be evaluated. That’s the problem. The solution is PCell Xtreme. It creates something called persistent PCells. It creates a disk representation, a cache of the PCells. That does two things. It dramatically speeds up the opening of the data base. Customers reporting 100x is common. The other thing it does is it enables SKILL PCells to
be cached and then to be opened in any other tool, any Open Access tool. PCell Xtreme opens the door that had been until now closed to Cadence users who have used SKILL PCells in their design. It allows them to use the tools from any other Open Access vendor.
The product name is PCell Xtreme not PyCell Xtreme. Do PyCells have the same issues?
PyCells use the same mechanism and have the same benefits as PCells and vice versa. PCell Xtreme is not required to operate PyCell Studio but if a PyCell Studio user had PCell Xtreme the opening of the data base would be 100x faster.
Is there any difference regarding the mixture of PyCells and PCells?
There are no issues at all with mixing and no restriction on mixing. You can go from one PyCell with the rest of the chip being PCells. You can have 50/50 or any other mixture. There is no restriction.
What is the list price of PCell Xtreme?
The list price is $4K per end use time based license. The more common way for people to obtain that is through a support contract. If people buy end user support for PyCell Studio that is one of the productivity enhancing tools we give away to commercial support customers.
What about Python IDE (Interactive Development Environment)?
This is a third party product. It is a kind of optional extra. This is a GUI for Python code writing like Microsoft VisualC++ for C++ development. It provides code management, automatic indenting and coloring, bracket matching .. All the housing keeping for writing code and debugging. Lots of debugging tools. We make this third party product available along with some integration with PyCell Studio. It is not required. Some of our customers use it, some do not.
What is the list price of Python IDE?
$180 for one copy of the Pro Version. That’s the same list price as from the third party developer, Wingware.
There was some mention in the press about Ciranova’s intention of making a code donation.
Let me give you the specific details. Earlier this year (July I think) was when we signed the agreement. We made a donation to Si2, the custodians and developers of the Open Access data base, of some cache technology that is related to PCell Xtreme but it is not the source code for PCell Xtreme. This cache technology enables developers for example Cadence could use this for Virtuoso or Silicon Canvas could use this in Laker. It allows anybody that is a member of Si2, essentially all EDA vendors, to down load the source ode and implement that same caching with those speed up benefits. If the all use this code then the caching will be interoperable. That’s another benefit which
would have to be implemented by all the vendors. There is a benefit to having a cache and even greater benefit tin having an interoperable cache. We donated for free open source use the source code for implementing caching within an EDA tool.
Red Hat was cited as an example of a successful company whose business model involves giving away product. In its last fiscal year, the period ended February 28 in 2007, Red Hat’s revenue was $341M in subscriptions, $59M in training and services for total revenue of $401M and a net income of $59M.
In its 10K report Red Hat states
“Open source software is an alternative to proprietary software and represents a different model for the development and licensing of commercial software code than that typically used for proprietary software. Because open source software code is freely shared, there are customarily no licensing fees for the distribution of the open source software. Therefore, we do not recognize revenue from the licensing of the code itself. We provide value to our customers through the aggregation, integration, testing, certification, delivery, maintenance and support of our Red Hat enterprise technologies, and by providing a level of scalability, stability and accountability for
the enterprise technologies we package and distribute.”
“We have continued to build our open source architecture by expanding our enterprise offerings and introducing new systems management services, middleware, clustering capability, file management systems, directory and certificate technologies and enhanced security functionality.”
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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.
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