Tag: synopsys

Armenia ups the IT ante

Armenian wine makerYou can probably tell from other stories I’ve filed recently, but last week I was in Armenia for the first time to report on the high tech in the country.

There’s plenty of famous Armenians – the one in the news most recently is Kim Kardashian West, robbed of millions of pounds worth of jewellery in Paris. But others include Hovannes Adamian – inventor of colour TV, Boris Babanal – father of supercomputing in the Soviet bloc, and many many more. You can find the impressive list here.

On that page you’ll also find a list of prominent chess players. Chess is Armenia’s national game. Another very famous Armenian was George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, born in Gyumri, Armenia’s second city and formerly called Alexandropol. This city suffered a devastating blow in 1988 when it was close to the epicentre of a 6.8 earthquake which killed an estimated 45,000 people. The country has suffered other tragedies, including mass genocide of around 1.5 million people starting in the days of the Ottoman Empire, something which modern day Turkey still denies.

I must say that speeding around Armenia over a period of five days I was very impressed by the strides in IT the country is making. We visited a number of lively companies including PicsArt, Digital Pomegranate, Volo,  and Energize Global Services.

In addition, I had meetings with Microsoft Armenia, Mentor Graphics and Synopsys – I’ve covered the last two in separate articles on TechEye in recent days.

And I took in visits to Tumo – the Centre for Creative Technologies, the Enterprise Incubation Foundation, ANEL – the National Polytechnic University of Armenia, and Gtech, based in Gyumri.

digitecLast Saturday I visited a computer exhibition in capital city Yerevan called Digitec Expo 2016 where I had the opportunity to meet a large number of other companies – big and small and just starting out. As a veteran of countless trade shows all over the world, I can tell you that while this isn’t the largest, it’s certainly buzzing with activity and enthusiasm and numbers aren’t everything. See that car on the right? That’s the president’s.

Did I say I’d been to a winery? I did that too. Shame you can’t easily buy those wines and those brandies here in the UK. The Armenian currency is called DRAM and a mere 600 of those will buy you a packet of cigarettes. 600 DRAM, by the way, is around a quid.

What really struck me was the level of education in Armenia, with universities, and computer companies cooperating with other in the IT sector. The youngsters’ enthusiasm was great to see – I don’t think their palates are quite as jaded as here in the UK and America.

I’m told that IT is the fastest growing sector in the country and represents a cool five percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

All of the companies and organisations I spoke to made it clear that Armenia wasn’t aiming to compete on price for outsourcing projects – quality is the name of the IT game there, and I was certainly struck by the professionalism of the people I spoke to.

In some ways, the Armenian tech sector reminded me of the early days of technology in Taiwan – not so much the type of IT, but the willingness of the people to roll up their sleeves and to work with will and enthusiasm. From being abandoned by the Soviet Union to its own devices, my assessment is that Armenia is already going places and has plenty of room to grow more.

Did I mention that the parts of the countryside I’ve seen are beautiful too?

Synopsys in push to power up Armenia education

intel_ireland_semiconductor_chip_fab_300mm_waferI was in Armenia last week, courtesy, you could barely Adam and Eve it, of the British Embassy,  and was given the chance to speak to many a vendor, to students, and to regular people too, and taste the atmosphere of this ancient country.

In particular, I was privileged to interview Dr. Vazgen Melikyan, the director of Synopsys Armenia’s education department  and believe you me, that was quite an eye opener. The company is running effectively a powerhouse university.

Like its competitor, Mentor Graphics, Synopsys is investing money in bringing Armenia squarely into the 22nd century. The country is noted for its development skills – for example, an Armenian invented optical laser surgery, while another, American Armenian, Charlie Demerjian, invented an influential magazine called semiaccurate.com.

The professor said that the Synopsys aim is to cooperate with the main American universities. He said: “We select the best students after the second year.”

He said the internal university also offers a PhD programme, an IC design programme and an electronic design course.

Synopsys licenses its tools to external students with each licence worth around $1.5 million. But its students get the tools free of charge.

“We’re changing our curriculum in response to changing conditions,” said Professor Melikyan. Ninety percent of its students get jobs in the semiconductor industry and 77 percent get jobs in Armenia. The rest work for competitors such as Mentor Graphics.

Synopsys Armenia has its own library, which we saw when we were there last week, and it’s pretty impressive.

The Armenian story appears to be largely untold, although here at TechEye we’ve known about the influence its scientists and engineers have for some years. What we particularly like, resulting from our visit, is the clear enthusiasm and dynamism of the ICT industry in the country.

It’s pretty clear to us that the story needs to be told outside the confines of the IT industry – this little country is clearly going places.

GloFo accredits Synopsys IC Validator for 28nm

GlobalFoundries has certified Synopsys‘ IC Validator verification for the 28nm, 40nm and 65nm sign-offs.

The IC Validator is for use with the IC Compiler for In-Design physical verification, the idea being to help along route energineers’ time to tapeout. Synopsys promises GloFo no “late stage surprises” with the validator and cuts out the need for manual fixes. 

Synopsys’ verification is all about battling the ‘implement-then-verify’ trend, it says, which doesn’t do anyone favours when there are nasty bugs right towards the end of a roll-out.

Mojy Chian, SVP at GloFo, said in a statement that the Synopsys kit had runset creation done and dusted in record time which is why it got full certification for the 28nm, 40nm and 65nm processes. GlobalFoundries will be happy to avoid any late-stage surprises, we’re sure.

Synopsys says Validator uses scalable hybrid data and command processing to enable coding at a higher level of abstraction, doing away with manual lower level data processing by automating it.

The company claims that its near-linear scalability helps with its load scheduling and balancing, which will in turn let GloFo ‘streamline’ design rule development. It will help GloFo, Synopsys says, offer its customers high accuracy and scalability for advanced process nodes.

Space and time combine to overpower the human brain

A VP from Synopsys said today that by the middle of this century, computing power will exceed the thinking capacity of all the humans beings on the planet.

Rich Goldman made some compelling comparisons between the development of the microprocessor and space exploration, and showed how computing power had assisted the ability for everyone to go boldly forwards.

By 2050, Goldman said, computing power would have the capability to match the thinking power of all the human beings there are in the world, while right now it only represents one percent of the power of a human brain.

These slides from his presentation sum up the thread of his argument and show what we can continue to expect in the future, provided we don’t all blow ourselves up or we’re all laid waste by global warming.

For example, Goldman said, a 1982 Intel 80286 was 28 times more powerful than computers on the Voyagers 1 and 2, launched in 1977.   Sputnik computers were capable of only 2,000 instructions per second.  And a 2010 Apple iPad is 689 times more powerful than the onboard computers on the Columbia space shuttle, first launched in 1981.  

The Hubble telescope was launched in 1990 and the first CCD based commercial digital camera arrived in 1991. “CCDs are a big reason for later developments in astronomy,” said Goldman. They’ve made extremely powerful telescopes at a fraction of the cost.

Synopsys announces 28nm system-on-chip Lynx system

Synopsys has announced a low power, high-performance system-on-chip (SoC) Lynx system based on the Common Platform Alliance’s (CPA) 28 nanometer high-k metal gate technology.

The system is designed to provide a Synopsys Galaxy Implementation Platform-based open production flow and a Foundry-Ready system technology plugin for the CPA’s 28 nanometer technology.

Because it’s based on the Galaxy platform, the Lynx system will come with a number of additional features, such as low power implementation, multi-corner multi-mode optimisation, a design compiler with graphical physical guidance, an IC compiler Zroute DFM-optimised router, In-Design DRC auto-fixing with IC Validator, dynamic rail analysis with PrimeRail, and final stage leakage reduction. It also supports the IEEE 1801 standard.

The Found-Ready plugin provides Lynx scripts, templates and documentation based on the 28 nanometer process, ARM Arstisan standard cell logic and memory physical IP, baseline process-specific methodologies, and design checks and guidelines.

GlobalFoundries, which recently teamed up with Synopsys for  28 nanometer process PHY IP, spoke on behalf of the Common Platform Alliance to praise the collaboration, which it said will accelerate developments of high-k metal gate technology.

Synopsys, GlobalFoundries team up for 28nm process PHY IP

Synopsys and GlobalFoundries said that they are teaming up to develop the DesignWare interface PHY IP for 28 nanometer technologies.

The partnership will see the development of Synopsys’ DesignWare PHY IP for GlobalFoundries’ 28 nanometer process. This will cover the USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI 1.4 Tx and Rx, DDR3/2, PCI Express 2.0 and 1.1, SATA 1.5/3Gb/s and 6Gb/s and XAUI connections.

The two companies have previously worked together on developing DesignWare PHY IP for the 180 nanonmeter and 32 nanonmeter processes, now adding the 28 nanonmeter process to the mix and hinting that more may come of the partnership over time.

“Our 28nm HKMG processes with ‘Gate First’ technology are aimed at delivering a new level of performance and power efficiency for the next generation of SoC designs,” said Walter Ng, vice president of the IP ecosystem at GloFo. 

He added that teaming up with Synopsys “will enable our mutual customers to quickly ramp into high volume and bring their innovations to the marketplace.”

The 28 nanonmeter process come in high performance or super low power variations and GlobalFoundries is advertising them as delivering “fast processing with minimal leakage”, making them a good fit with Synopsys’ DesignWare PHY IP, which, Synopsys, says needs “minimal area and low dynamic and leakage power consumption.”

Front end design views are currently available, while design kits will be available in the first quarter of 2011, with further products in the DesignWare PHY IP line also planned for next year.

Semi Alliance unites on common platform approach

The IBM Technology Alliance – which includes among its number GlobalFoundries (GloFo), ST Microelectronics, Samsung and Big Blue itself, said today that they will coordinate efforts to produce 28 nanometre semiconductors.

The alliance, which has been in existence for some years, has three other members, Renesas, Toshiba, and Infineon.

The four companies will develop standardised 28 nanometre process technology aimed at what they describe as the next generation of smart mobile devices. That technology will give faster processing speeds, smaller chips, lower standby power and longer battery life, the four partners said. Eventually, this technology, they said, will lead to a generation of portable electronics that can handle streaming video, data, voice and mobile commerce applications.

In practice, the 28 nano chips will use bulk CMOS and high-k metal gate processes, with members of the alliance all cooperating on what they describe as “Gate First” technology. The Common Platform has also collaborated with ARM and Synopsys ad have released common 28 nanometre circuits in their different fabs to allow for synchronisation. The first fab to complete the synchronisation will be later this year, and products will follow soon after.

Gary Patton, VP of IBM’s semiconductor R&D said that his company has a lot of experience synchronising multiple fabs, matching manufacturing specs to designs. “Our advanced technology can be implemented in many fabs around the world and produce the same results, providing clients with multiple suppliers for their product designs,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by GloFo, ST Micro and Samsung, while ARM and Synopsys both applauded the move.

Malcolm Penn, CEO of Future Horizons, a UK semiconductor analyst company, told TechEye: “This is really only a scaled up version of Crolles alliance and is more important for the club members than the  industry/Intel as it gives them collective economy of scale.  Standardised process flows are increasingly required as the geometries scale due to transistor variability issues as well as operational logistic simplicity.  TSMC has already culled the number of variations it offers to essentially two at 28/32nm, never again we see the open field we saw at 65nm which brought them to their knees!

“As for Intel, it means nixie squat.  Their whole design methodology, cell libraries and process (gate last) is tuned to making processors not random logic. They get fabulous transistor densities but equally ‘fabulously’ high power dissipation. It really is chalk and cheese  This is part of the reason – apart from a complete cultural mind set disconnect – that they find logic so hard to make successful.

“Their (Intel’s) only hope as a logic fab/foundry would be to license/copy TSMC’s or the Club’s process and port it into their fabs, though this would need a separate fab and fab management concept.  If they used current practice they would either break their MCU fabs, as they would be switching between two wildly differing processes on such a regular basis something would go out of calibration, or they would (more likely) if they handed it to a potential customer drive the customer screaming and shouting back into the arms of TSMC.”

Synopsys to acquire Virage Logic

Software and IP company Synopsys announced today that it is to acquire semiconductor IP firm Virage Logic for $315 million.

Synopsys will pay $12 cash for each Virage Logic share, and since the latter has over 26 million shares that quickly becomes a sizeable amount. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2010, when Virage Logic will cease trading.

Virage Logic’s President and CEO Alex Shubat will join Synopsys as part of the deal and will bring his company’s IP projects in to complement Synopsys’ DesignWare system. Synopsys hopes the acquisition will help it strengthen its place in the System-on-Chip (SoC) development market by increasing its overall IP portfolio.

“When I co-founded Virage Logic in 1996, it was with the belief that a semiconductor IP company could provide the technically superior building blocks that the industry needed to accelerate development of high quality, cost-effective end products,” said Shubat. “Today, the transition to a fabless, or ‘fab-lite’ model, coupled with the explosion in SoC product development costs at the advanced process nodes, has resulted in an escalating need by the semiconductor manufacturers for production-proven IP. By joining forces with Synopsys’ impressive engineering team and by gaining access to their global channel, we will be able to accelerate the development and delivery of our broad product offering to help customers meet their design-for-profitability goals.”

The board of directors on both sides have given the thumbs up to the deal, but it must also be approved by regulators and Virage Logic’s shareholders.

China pirates most software worldwide

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) claimed that global software piracy rose by 43 percent last year, amounting to what it claimed is a loss of $51 billion to the software companies.

The BSA said that the rise in pirated software from the year before was largely down to more PC sales in emerging markets. It claimed that the 43 percent piracy rate meant that for every $100 of legit software sold in 2009, $75 worth of unlicensed software came into the market.

PC markets in Brazil, India and China represented 86 percent of the growth in PC shipments worldwide, the BSA said.

The United States was the goodie two shoes in the world of piracy, with only 20 percent piracy. But the BSA claimed that amounted to $8.4 billion of lost sales last year.

China saw a large increase in the commercial value of pirated software and grew $900 million from 2008 to represent $7.6 billion of lost software sales.

India, Chile and Canada, said the BSA, saw the greatest improvement in reducing software theft, with each of them seeing a three percent decline in piracy rates in 2009. The UK has the sixth lowest piracy rate globally.

The BSA called on governments to help stamp out software theft.

Members include Adobe, Altium, Apple, Autodesk, AVEVA, AVG, Bentley Systems, CA, Cadence, Cisco Systems, CNC/Mastercam, Corel, Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corporation, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Intuit, Kaspersky Lab, McAfee, Microsoft, Minitab, PTC, Progress Software, Quark, Quest Software, Rosetta Stone, Siemens, Sybase, Symantec, Synopsys, and MathWorks.