March 29, 2010
Agilent EEsof EDA – Part II
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Under the care of HP veteran
Jake Egbert as VP/GM, EEsof continued to grow its revenues and customer base from 1993 to 1999.
III. The Agilent Technologies' Spinout and IPO:
In 1999, HP announced a landmark decision, to
split the entire corporation into two separate companies. The original Test & Measurement (T&M) part of HP (that dated all the way back to the early days of Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard), became
Agilent Technologies, which in November 1999 was to execute the largest IPO in Silicon Valley history.
Agilent Technologies Inc. of Santa Clara, CA is the world's premier measurement company, with $4.5 billion in revenues in FY09 and over 16,000 employees. In its most recent quarter, Agilent Technologies reported order growth of 9% and a 21% Return on Invested Capital. Also worth noting: as of mid-March 2010, Agilent's Market Cap was approximately $11.65 billion. Its stock (NYSE Symbol A) is up approximately 140% over a 52-week period (blue line in the chart below), easily outpacing the Dow (red line). (Chart courtesy of Yahoo! Finance):
As mentioned earlier, EEsof went with Agilent Technologies as part of the spinout from HP. This arrangement was inevitable, as EEsof software was then (and is now) also used internally by hundreds of Agilent T&M RF/MW engineers to help analyze and design virtually all of Agilent's commercially-offered RF/MW test and measurement equipment.
As a separate entity inside Agilent, EEsof EDA today provides its customers a broad spectrum of EDA software, including applications for microwave (MW), Radio Frequency (RF), high-frequency, high-speed, RF system, electronic system level (ESL), circuit, 3-D electromagnetic, physical design and device-modeling. Agilent EEsof EDA offers both single user software products as well as enterprise-level solutions.
At the time of the Agilent IPO in 1999, however, the future growth and prosperity of EEsof was definitely not assured. After all, despite possessing the powerful technologies of both the existing HP and EEsof applications software products, the first generation of the EEsof ADS platform was just starting to mature.
But Agilent EEsof EDA had several additional “unfair advantages” going for it.
The first was that in March 2000, Agilent EEsof EDA snagged a new General Manager,
Jim McGillivary, who would successfully lead EEsof for the next 10 years though a new era of growth and prosperity .
The second advantage was that EEsof had aggressively developed its
own dedicated sales force and support network worldwide.
As the new century dawned, there were also
two fresh segments of the emerging marketplace that were starting to look to EEsof's technology -
Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit (RFIC) designers and
Signal Integrity (SI) analysts.
“In both RFIC and Signal Integrity, we were hearing clear signals from the EEsof field organization and from customers,” said Charles Plott. “For example in RFIC, several leading customers wanted to see our circuit simulation technology, electromagnetic (EM) simulation technology, high-frequency models, and data display capabilities accessible from a Cadence® Virtuoso® Simulation flow.”
(Note: The latter “simulation flow” is used by many of today's integrated circuit (IC) designers to push the limits of traditional IC design tools and methods to meet requirements for increased IC complexity and faster time to market).
“We've worked closely with Cadence Design Systems, Inc. to close this gap,” continued Plott. “Both companies still invest to make sure that our mutual customers continue to have access to a complete, up-to-date RFIC flow. It's an important part of our portfolio and we have several large mutual customers in every geographic region that help us drive our technology and roadmap forward.”
Signal Integrity (SI) is considered another expansion area for Agilent EEsof EDA that started early in this decade. In fact, there is now a completely separate team within EEsof that focuses exclusively on the emerging needs of the SI market segment.
(Note: In general, SI has to do with the “quality” of an electrical signal, especially important in today's digital electronics. Over short distances and at low speeds, most conductors can easily transmit a signal with high fidelity. However, at high speeds and/or over longer distances, various effects can degrade the electrical signal to the point where errors may occur, and in some cases, the device may even fail. SI engineering is an important activity at all levels of electronics packaging, from internal connections within an integrated circuit (IC), along the connections in a printed circuit board (PCB), in a backplane, and even along
In recent years, EEsof has encountered the demand for effective SI software tools not only from its external customers, but also directly from Agilent Test & Measurement (T&M) engineers and designers in house. The latter have had to deal with and overcome SI effects in the very Agilent test & measurement products that are often used by their customers to analyze SI effects in the field, such as Agilent oscilloscopes. “In fact,” says Larry Lerner, “We have gone so far as to embed some of the T&M firmware into EEsof ADS, so that EEsof software customers can see the same 'use models and algorithms' for things like jitter decomposition and Double Data Rate (DDR)
memory compliance testing.”
IV. RF & MW EDA Market Consolidation (2005 - 2010)
During recent years, Agilent EEsof EDA management enhanced the company's horizons by executing
several acquisitions in a planned ongoing effort to expand its RF/MW portfolio and to consolidate key industry expertise. While multiple EEsof people were involved in due diligence and other aspects of these acquisitions, VP/GM Jim McGillivary oversaw their successful execution.
(Note: Space available in this issue of EDA Weekly permits only summaries of three EEsof acquisitions of special note; these three were carried out within a relatively short period).
A. Agilent EEsof EDA acquires
Called “Chipbusters” early on, for nearly 20 years Eagleware had built a strong following of RF/MW customers. Whereas Agilent EEsof EDA focused on providing enterprise software, the Eagleware team had found its niche in providing software for smaller companies and personal use.
During its long history in the marketplace, it turned out that
Eagleware-Elanix had amassed the second largest number of RF/MW EDA users (next to Agilent EEsof). Founded by
Randy Rhea in the mid-1980's, Eagleware-Elanix also offered world class RF filter synthesis technology and certain innovative RF system simulation technology. All of these attributes made Eagleware-Elanix an interesting acquisition target for Agilent EEsof EDA.
“Eagleware-Elanix was an important acquisition for us and it was the first in a series of EEsof acquisitions. Eagleware-Elanix was servicing a part of the market that EEsof wasn't. Not only did they have some excellent technology that we were interested in, adding Eagleware-Elanix in 2005 allowed us to begin offering customers a full range of solutions from low-cost personal use to full enterprise,” said Charles Plott. “We continue to enhance and update both product lines. What's attractive is that smaller customers can now scale their software selections, and as they grow they can migrate to an enterprise solution while preserving their original
investments. In addition, the former Eagleware president and CEO, Todd Cutler, and former CTO, Rob Lefebvre, both occupy leadership roles within today's Agilent EEsof EDA organization.”
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-- Russ Henke, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.