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 What Would Joe Do?
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Runtime: New phase ushered in by Altair acquisition

December 28th, 2017 by Peggy Aycinena

After 22 years as an independent ‘startup’, Runtime Design Automation
was purchased by Altair in September 2017. Per founder and CEO Andrea Casotto, this is yet another chapter in what has been a very exciting run of things.

WWJD: How are things going?

Andrea Casotto: Since we were sold to Altair in September, the company actually went IPO in October, so things are going very well. There is a lot of positive change coming, so I am very optimistic.

WWJD: What will those changes include?

Andrea Casotto: The number one change as we merge into Altair, is contact with their team, their shareholders and, of course, their sales people. We also expect more resources to be available to us, and to be able to tap into more expertise through Altair.

Altair understands the technology, and the need for high-performance computing. Our products fits very well [into their portfolio]. We believe we offer compelling value, capacity and speed, which will benefit Altair.

It is a big deal to be swallowed by a fairly large company. We have had our own methodology and habits for many years, but I’m looking forward to the change.

WWJD: What does Runtime do?

Andrea Casotto: We manage chip resources for chip designers, so we have one foot in IP and one in design.

For instance, EDA licenses are much expensive than the computers they run on, and involve multiple users. They need to be managed, along with the design flow, and this is something that our products [help with].

WWJD: Isn’t that the job of IT?

Andrea Casotto: IT runs the compute farm, while the licenses are run by the customer. We make sure the customers do it as efficiently as possible. We are quite obsessive in [pursuing] those efficiencies.

WWJD: Who is the competition.

Andrea Casotto: It depends on the product, because we have three different product areas.

First is FlowTracer, our biggest product, which was my PhD thesis from my UC Berkeley days. It manages all the tools in a complex design flow. There is a tremendous amount of efficiency [gained] from this type of management.

Synopsys‘ Lynx competes, but it has a lot of limitations, so we don’t really see any competition for our product there.

Second is NetworkComputer job scheduler, a stand-alone product, and WorkloadXelerator, an upper-level scheduler for NetworkComputer, IBM’s Platform LSF and other third-party schedulers.

NetworkComputer competes with LSF, the big gorilla in the EDA game, but we now have a chance to compete. We also compete with Sun’s Grid Engine, but we are way faster and far easier to use and install.

Third is LicenseMonitor, our simplest product. It monitors licenses and figures out which licenses are used. And LicenseAllocator, which tracks multiple users of licenses. Our biggest competitor in this area is Flexera.

WWJD: Why do EDA customers want to rely on a third-party to provide these capabilities?

Andrea Casotto: Some big companies do have this capability in-house. Some companies like Qualcomm use FlowTrace, while other companies use all three of our products.

Usually small companies don’t have anything internal with the same capability and scalability of our products.

WWJD: So, perhaps you don’t need to worry about the competition?

Andrea Casotto: No, we do worry.

The competition doesn’t stay put, and our customers are driving us [to stay ahead]. As compute farms grow and grow, we are continuously challenged, which is how we grow.

WWJD: Where is your physical office.

Andrea Casotto: We are in Santa Clara, the headquarters of Runtime. This will be our last week as stand alone [entity]. As of January 1st, we will complete acquisition, and in Q1 we will move to Altair.

WWJD: What will be your new role at Altair?

Andrea Casotto: I am greatly honored that I will be Chief Scientist at Altair. As I will be able to make my voice a little louder, I will evangelize the community.

We’ve been in EDA since 1996, it’s in our DNA, but I thank Altair for our new opportunity. They have been very successful in EDA, in the automotive space, and with the government. From what I’ve seen so far, there will now be an opportunity as part of Altair to take our technology out of just EDA.

We’ve always been much more widely applicable – even using our own software to do our own regression testing – so now the opportunity to do that [has arrived].

WWJD: Why belong to the ESD Alliance?

Andrea Casotto: As we have grown up as a company inside this community, and solved problems specific to this community, it is out of respect for the roots of our company that we belong to the ESD Alliance.

And we have a growing need to complete integration with Synopsys, Mentor Graphics, and Cadence – the ESD Alliance helps us there.

Of course, Runtime by Altair will be at DAC next year, so we will continue our strong presence in this field.

WWJD: Where do you find young talent to grown the company?

Andrea Casotto: It is a challenge finding young talent. They are gravitating to other software industries like Facebook and Twitter.

[laughing] EDA has a classic ambiance rather than a young one, so the age of our employees is a little higher than what you’ll usually find in San Francisco or Silicon Valley.

My expectations are, however, now that we are a bigger company, our hiring will [trend younger].

WWJD: Is there something funny that’s happened to you in your long career?

Andrea Casotto: This is more poignant than funny.

I started the company in 1995 when I met my wife, so I’ve been with this company for more than 22 years. While my family has lived in Padua, Italy [all these years], I have been in Silicon Valley. I’m grateful to my wife to allow me to pursue this profession.

It’s been a great experience and my kids benefit from being bilingual. And now with the [acquisition], I’m planning to spend a little more time there.

Although by now, living on two contents is what we think is normal.

WWJD: Are you encouraging your kids to go into engineering?

Andrea Casotto: No, not at all. They should do whatever they want. They are wonderful and will find their niche by themselves. And they’re more about people than machines.

There is something, however, I have found to be funny, or tragic. After 22 years, we are still calling ourselves a startup. And as we have had no venture capital, we are truly bootstrapped. That was the path we choose.

WWJD: Will there be celebrations on January 1st?

Andrea Casotto: [laughing] Yes, there will be celebrations!


Press Release …

TROY, Mich. – September 28, 2017 – Altair has acquired Runtime Design Automation (Runtime), a Santa Clara, California-based technology company specializing in scalable solutions for high performance computing (HPC). Runtime primarily serves customers leveraging EDA tools to design semiconductor devices such as CPUs, GPUs, chipsets, and SoCs. The addition of Runtime’s technology and domain expertise expands Altair’s HPC technology footprint and leadership, complementing its PBS Works suite for comprehensive, secure workload management for HPC and cloud environments.

“The acquisition by Altair marks a new chapter in the evolution of Runtime technology, which will benefit from significant additional resources, skillsets and support globally,” said Andrea Casotto, Founder and former CEO of Runtime, now Chief Scientist at Altair. “In addition, Altair and Runtime products’ exposure to new and adjacent markets will benefit our clients.”

The Runtime team joins Altair to share and deliver innovative and mission critical technologies to optimize the use of HPC for compute-intensive applications for specific market demands and needs.

With over two decades of experience in design automation for electronic components, Runtime bridges the gap between infrastructure and design tools, maximizing compute hardware and software license utilization. Runtime also provides designers with an advanced platform to develop and accelerate design flows – increasing operational efficiency, throughput, and time-to-market.

“The addition of Runtime is synergistic with our technology roadmap to support the growing EDA and semiconductor market segments for HPC and our clients’ transitions to connected devices and hybrid systems,” said James R. Scapa, Altair’s Founder, Chairman and CEO. “Today, the importance of HPC is no longer limited to design and research. It is a necessity throughout the entire product lifecycle and we are committed to being a technology leader to support our clients.”


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