November 15, 2010
Lynguent Part I
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Russ Henke - Contributing Editor

by Russ Henke - Contributing Editor
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Because if achieved, the 10X acceleration would be Lynguent’s “unique, unfair advantage” in the marketplace!


Lynguent’s Specialty & Raison d’être

So here’s what we had learned so far at the Claremont luncheon: Starting in 2004, Martin and his Lynguent team had decided to tackle one of the most difficult and ongoing problems in EDA: dealing successfully with analog and analog mixed signal (AMS) systems, which are often subsystems of a companion digital systems product. As mentioned, “dealing successfully” this time around meant reaching a goal of a 10 to 1 improvement or more, compared to trying to write the analog model or AMS model purely with an HDL.

“Please walk us through the first few years from 2004 on.”

Warming to his subject, Martin continued: Lynguent began with the premise mentioned earlier -- that the design and verification of 100% digital semiconductor chips is already well supported today in the marketplace by the use of models written in either

Verilog® (C) or
VHDL (D). There are also good tools available that
convert a model used at one stage of the digital design to a new model to be used at the next stage. Examples of such tools are high level synthesis, Register Transfer Level (RTL) synthesis, and physical synthesis tools.

Verification is mostly done by applying suitable test vectors to digital models, although in some situations

FastSPICE (E) simulations may be done. A single simulation using all-digital models is reasonably fast, so the time to complete verification is largely dependent on the number of test vectors. So purely digital design and verification is already a well-served market.

Conversely, analog and mixed-signal (AMS) chips are still much more difficult to design and verify, and no general methodology seems to have become available (until Lynguent).

The main reasons were and are:

  • Digital designers often do not understand the analog design issues, and vice versa. As a consequence, the analog and digital portions of a design are usually done independently and brought together rather late in the design process, leading to costly redesigns and delays if analog and digital don’t match up.

  • There are no synthesis tools for AMS. Models needed at different stages of the design must be written manually, often by analog designers who are not comfortable working with a hardware description language (HDL).

  • Verification that includes AMS models is inherently slow due to the involvement of an analog solver. Methodologies to speed this up are often proprietary and application specific. They include creating behavioral models whose parameters are tuned such that the model behavior matches that of the transistor level design
  • So the creation of suitable AMS models remained a major bottleneck in an AMS design. Such models are also needed in various forms (usually at different levels of abstraction) throughout the design phase and also to speed up verification. Additionally, meaningful verification requires an ability to tune the behavior of a model to match that of the transistor design.

    By providing unique products that breakthrough this bottleneck, Lynguent can enjoy an enviable position in its market niche.

    Lynguent products can be used as stand-alone tools in an AMS design flow, but they also interact with the Cadence® Virtuoso® environment. Support in the Lynguent products for quick and easy model composition using drag and drop of library building blocks facilitates the creation of different versions of a model targeted at different design phases.

    This makes it possible to start modeling and simulation anywhere in the design and verification cycle, from system level design all the way through transistor level and the verification flow.

    “But how did you answer the question of whether the analog market was large enough to provide the demand that would allow Lynguent to eventually thrive?”

     Alas, at this point the time allotted to our Claremont luncheon was dwindling fast. So we turned the remaining time to arranging for follow up by the writer, such as obtaining from Lynguent more details on the market size question posed above, as well as collecting more information the backgrounds of Jean, Martin and Sam, et al.

    Below are some of the results of that follow up effort.


    Lynguent’s Market Niche

    Here again the news was and remains positive.

    First of all, the real world and all humans are “analog”. We don’t think, hear, see, etc. digitally. So to use and leverage the cornucopia of the digital explosion of modern life, most of the digital world needs to convert analog input to digital, and digital output to analog. For example, while digital recording of modern music has vastly benefitted the industry, monumental effort goes into the mixing of the digital data until the music is pleasing to the human (analog) ear. Indeed, many music purists and musicians themselves say they can still detect a digital recording by ear, regardless of the mixing diligence. (Some bands have
    actually gone back to the old fashioned method of recording their work “live” on vinyl records instead of CD’s).

    Moreover, Lynguent has access to market data that indicates the demand for analog components may have an estimated compound annual growth rate of 12% and that up to 80% of SoC’s contain AMS circuitry (see chart below). At that pace, the analog market could be expected to reach $68 billion with some 139 billion units shipped by 2012.

    It would appear from these market data that analog growth has even outperformed the digital market, and that the difference in the two lines is arguably expanding. As alluded to before, analog growth has been stimulated by the explosion in worldwide usage of digital media. So-called traditional media (like magnetic tapes) have been replaced by DVDs, and the capability for almost anyone to create content has risen to incredible levels. Today, even the average consumer has the ready ability to create and store a “digital experience”, be it on the Internet, or on an iPod or iPhone.

    Click here for an example of a digital experience that the writer finds worthwhile!

    This need is helping to expand the market for digital electronics, thanks to high-performance analog circuitry.

    Accordingly, Lynguent management feels reassured that the market for improved EDA tools to attack the analog and AMS niches remains robust.

    Lynguent Product Status Today

    Reaching for this target has already taken nearly 80 person years of intense development effort on the part of Lynguent, funded by product revenue, government research grants, services revenue and of course venture capital. So far, the company has successfully raised some $8 million in private capital.

    The Lynguent products started becoming available in 2006 . The first version of
    Lynguent ModLyng for Analog and Mixed-Signal style of modeling was released in June 2006.
    The first version of Lynguent ModLyng for Event-Driven Mixed-Signal style of modeling was released in July 2009, and
    the first version of Lynguent ModLyng supporting Radiation Hardened By Design was released in July 2009.

    You can find the full EDACafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Russ Henke, Contributing Editor.


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