SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Toolwire Inc. here today expanded its Internet-based chip-design service by adding a new business-to-business exchange, increased design-tool applications and services, and an online tutorial.
Toolwire calls its concept the Design Chain Management (DCM) Network, touting it as a complete solution for designing, building, and sourcing semiconductors online.
"Just as supply chain management unified product manufacturing, design chain management aggregates design tools, information resources, design services, manufacturers, and distributors into an integrated product design solution that addresses the pain points in today's product development processes," said Dan Hodges, Toolwire's president and CEO.
Supply-chain management e-businesses address capacity and product sourcing issues for semiconductors and other electronics manufacturing. Virtual supply chains have become commodity enterprises, with access by all parties to the various components, said Doug Marinaro, vice president of marketing at Toolwire. "We saw the same opportunity on the design side," he said.
More and more chip companies find themselves facing huge investments in time and resources to assemble to the team and equipment needed to translate a hot idea into a valid product quickly, Hodges said. "Companies have good ideas that become stale because they lack the resources to translate the concepts into products," he remarked. "Design Chain Management makes the 'zero-latency' design chain a reality."
Marinaro declined to call Toolwire a portal in the sense that it is commonly used. "It's a little different than that," he explained. "A portal is a door you enter to go someplace else. We've brought it all to you."
Toolwire's new offerings include the the DCM Services Exchange, the DCM Device Exchange, and the DCM Institute. Toolwire began offering design tools and online design services from and Lucent Technologies Inc. and Synopsys Inc. on a pay-per-use basis (see Feb. 24 story). It has since run 700 design jobs, according to the company. Today is has begun offering a "configurable system-on-chip" solution from Triscend Corp., and ASIC design tools from Novas Software Inc. These are also offered on a pay-per-use basis, with the average cost being $15 to $60, according to Marinaro.
The DCM Services Exchange matches up engineers who need specific technical assistance with the people who can offer technical support for that need, explained Marinaro. Currently, In addition to Triscend and Novas, Toolwire's existing partners are FPGA supplier Xilinx Inc. and the design services unit of Avnet Inc. Avnet, for instance, can walk a customer through the entire process of designing a new chip, said Marinaro. "So now you have the availability of the tool but also a whole environment where people can work together on the design to make sure it comes out okay."
The device exchange, powered by Questlink Technology Inc., is a product information site, but will eventually offer uses the ability to compare prices and quotes, and other sourcing capabilities, said Marinaro.
Also new today is the Toolwire DCM Institute, which offers courses online with EDA Planet, a learning solution for electronics engineers, formed by Rick Carlson, an EDA industry veteran.
Other Web-based businesses have been staking out corners of the semiconductor and electronics design market. Silicon X, for instance, is planning to launch its site in June (see March 29 story). Marinaro believes Toolwire has a more comprehensive offering and "we're not waiting till DAC," he said, referring to SiliconX's launch timed to coincide with the Design Automation Conference in Los Angeles.
"Toolwire is providing an ASP that caters specifically to electronics design engineers -- a one stop site for access to all of the essential tools, facilities, and training materials to get the design job done," observed Jack Maynard, research director for the Aberdeen Group in Boston. "Aberdeen believes that Toolwire's pay-as-you-go model will have a substantial impetus on increasing the number of new ideas that can be brought to market just because the Web environment makes it possible for independent engineers to afford to participate."