San Jose, Calif. - Cadence Design Systems has been claiming that, on the strength of its Get2Chip acquisition, it is becoming a serious competitor to archrival Synopsys Inc. in logic synthesis. And according to Nvidia chief technology officer Chris Malachowsky, it is.
In a Cadence Design and Verification Technology Forum presentation last week, Malachowsky outlined how Nvidia designers are successfully using Get2Chip synthesis and Cadence Quickturn emulation in their design flow. Nvidia engineers use Cadence's Get2Chip RTL Compiler alongside Synopsys' Design Compiler to design next-generation graphics processors, he said.
"We're a happy customer of Design Compiler and other Synopsys tools that we use," said Malachowsky. "We weren't poorly served by previous choices, but we can certainly be better served by increasing our breadth."
Nvidia is considered a prize EDA customer because it is known to use the most advanced tools available and to innovate methodologies that other design groups will adopt in years to come.'Capture the flag'
Nvidia in the past would put together best-of-class tools into a flow and not stray from that flow until something broke. Now, Malachowsky said, its design groups run Design Compiler and RTL Compiler on the same blocks or chips and use the output of whichever tool creates the most desirable results.
"We run tools in what somebody in our group calls 'capture the flag,' " he said, noting that each of the two synthesis tools has its own strengths and weaknesses but that they complement each other to get the job done. RTL Compiler, he said, is easy to use, has the desired throughput and can handle a lot of design styles.
Synopsys held a 91 percent of the logic synthesis market in 2001, according to Dataquest. Cadence developed its own synthesis technology in the early 1990s and also purchased up-and-coming synthesis vendor Ambit Design. But Ambit's BuildGates, seen as a serious Design Compiler competitor when it was managed by an independent company, ran out of gas as an acquired technology at Cadence.
Former Get2Chip president Chi-Ping Hsu, who now heads Cadence's Get2Chip synthesis efforts, told EE Times he expected animosity when Get2Chip's synthesis team joined the remnants of the BuildGates team at Cadence. But instead, "we've come together and rallied behind a banner of 'Let's beat Synopsys,'" said Hsu.
"I look at the investments Cadence has made over the last two or three years and I applaud [them]," Malachowsky said.