Santa Cruz, Calif. Several years ago, an engineer at Silicon Graphics Inc. got so fed up with commercial IC design data management tools that he wrote his own open-source software. That software today is heading toward commercial release under startup IC Manage Inc.
The company is going into beta sites with a design data management system that provides version control, configuration management and bug tracking. The offering marks the commercial evolution of cdsp4, an open-source software package that links Cadence Design Systems Inc.'s Design Framework II (DFII) database to the Perforce configuration management system. Shiv Sikand, the engineer who created cdsp4, is IC Manage's vice president of engineering.
"Our mission is to commercialize and finish the idea that Shiv developed at SGI for design management, and to deliver a really comprehensive design management solution," said Dean Drako, president and chief executive officer of IC Manage (www.icmanage.com).
Drako brings broad entrepreneurial experience to this mission. He was founder, president and CEO of information management company Velosel Corp. before founding IC Manage. He also founded Blowfish, a provider of enterprise messaging solutions. IC Manage is privately funded.
When Sikand rolled out his open-source program in 2002, he said he had developed the program because of his own dissatisfaction with Synchronicity Software's IC design data management tools. Synchronicity representatives quickly responded, noting at the time that cdsp4 was only focused on configuration management and that customers wanted commercial support (see Nov. 4, 2002, page 45).
But things have changed, said Drako. First, cdsp4, which is still available on an open-source basis, only provides a Perforce integration with Cadence's DFII. The IC Manage offering, in contrast, will work with Synopsys Inc. and Mentor Graphics Corp. environments, as well as the OpenAccess database.
Moreover, while cdsp4 focuses on configuration management, the IC Manage product also provides version control and bug tracking, Drako said. And it includes the Perforce database, so users don't have to license that separately.
There are several features of the IC Manage offering that Drako believes are distinctive. One is variant management: The product tracks variants, which are alternate design elements that exist in parallel with originals. Instead of copying and tagging all files, the IC Manage approach just keeps track of which files are modified.
The IC Manage software also stores metadata, which is data about revisions and configurations, separately from design data. The metadata is stored in a fast relational database. "The traditional method is to put the metadata inside the file," Drako said. "The problem is that when you need to do operations on the metadata, you have to open up every file in the system."
The IC Manage offering will compete against the commercial data management software sold by Synchronicity, which is in the process of being acquired by MatrixOne Inc., as well as against free Unix utilities like RCS and CVS. But those utilities are based on 20-year-old software and are inadequate for today's chip design environments, Drako said.
"There's no configuration management, and there are severe performance issues when they're dealing with large files," Drako said. "Usually our solution will run 100 times faster than any of those [Unix utilities]. "And they don't scale very well. They don't have the remote multisite capabilities we provide."
Drako said IC Manage expects to release its product by the end of the summer, with pricing varying from $1,500 to $5,000 per user.