It's odd how what is shocking news one year at DAC is completely forgotten the next year. A little over 12 months ago at the Design Automation Conference in Los Angeles, the big shocker was Avanti teaming up with Synopsys to distribute their EDA tools over the Internet on the DesignSphere Web site. Three months earlier, Cadence had announced iCadence, a Web idea most people ignored because it was just at the concept stage and involved only Cadence tools. Nobody expected this type of cooperation from the Avanti hermit kingdom; Gerry was validating Synopsys' dot-com experiment by joining in on DesignSphere.
Four months go by, and Boston SNUG 2000 meets. "The thing that really got my attention was DesignSphere," wrote Bob Wiegand of NxtWave at the time. "It allows outsourcing of compute resources and associated IT issues, incremental peak increases in licenses and compute resources, and multisite design collaboration. This sounds ideal for startups. The really cool thing about it was all the demos were being run through DesignSphere Access to a cluster in Mountain View."
Now, a year has gone by and I'm at the Las Vegas DAC. No Synopsys hype whatsoever on DesignSphere anywhere. Huh? I pulled aside Dave Burow, the Synopsys VP in charge of DesignSphere. "Where we went wrong, John, was in not understanding the emotional need customers had to be near their computers and data. Most just could not get comfortable with the idea that their computers and data were in a remote building operated by a third party," said Dave. "Many admitted it wasn't rational, but somehow they had a strong need to be able to go down the hall and reboot the machine or be able to fire the IT guy if he didn't provide good support. This in spite of the fact that our IT guys were on call 24/7 and could show a much higher uptime than anything the customer had ever experienced.
"Internally in Synopsys, DesignSphere has around 250 users," Dave added. "All our training classes and many of our on-site customer consultants use DesignSphere." Dave went on to say that Synopsys was pulling out of the business of renting EDA tools over the Internet. Instead, it's now selling the DesignSphere technology itself to customers directly. "Our large customers have expressed great interest in the technology for their own use," concluded Dave. "As a result, we are developing a DesignSphere solution that can be installed at their own sites. That way we overcome those 'Oh no, my computers and support team are off-site' fears."
In short, yesterday's Synopsys dot-com hoopla mutated into yet another software product Synopsys sells to customers. The Trekkie in me laughed and thought: "This is a perfect example of the Borg philosophy of adapt or die." (And I also thought that maybe I should start looking into getting a life now that I'm quoting Star Trek philosophy in my columns.)
John Cooley runs the E-mail Synopsys Users Group (ESNUG), is a cContract ASIC Designer, and loves hearing from engineers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (508) 429-4357.