Gemini Design Automation, an EDA start-up that has spent the last three years under wraps, has just unveiled its simulation technology. Aiming to solve the challenge of verifying complex analog and mixed-signal designs, Gemini claims to have developed a simulator that achieves breakthroughs in both speed and accuracy. It is a claim that one might be tempted to take with a pinch of salt, were it not for the prior experience of the company's founders and backing by one of the best known names in the EDA world, Cadence co-founder, Jim Solomon.
At the heart of Gemini's capabilities are multithreading and parallel computation techniques, largely developed by Gemini's founder Dr. Baolin Yang, that make use of today's multicore computing architectures. In contrast to other multithreaded simulators on the market, Gemini threads both the model evaluation and matrix solving components of the simulator. According to Gemini's VP of marketing and sales Kent Jaeger, Synopsis' H Spice 'threads the matrix solving to some degree', whilst Cadence's Spectre Turbo Plus - the simulator against which Gemini's solution is typically benchmarked by potential customers - is part threaded. "They have only threaded model evaluation", he claims, adding that: "We run two to ten times faster than any of those first generation approaches, including significantly faster than Cadence Spectre Turbo Plus, whilst there is no comparison with non-threaded simulators."
It was, of course, inevitable that Gemini's solution would be compared to Spectre. As the person responsible for starting Cadence's analog division and therefore, partly or even wholly responsible for the creation of Spectre, Solomon explains: "Our starting goal was to build something that gave exactly the same answer as Spectre i.e. to replicate the same accuracy, but just do it faster. However, this was started from the ground up " Gemini was not hamstrung by history." In practice, this has meant that though Yang - himself ex-Cadence, having worked within the Spectre development group - and the rest of the development team have intimate knowledge of previous SPICE simulators, they are using new and as yet, undisclosed, techniques to achieve the performance gains that Gemini claims. Recounts Solomon: "Though there was a temptation to use FastMOS techniques, we put a hard rule on the developers that they could not use any because it would compromise the robustness of simulator " we wanted to create something that works correctly every time."