Issue: Jul 2006


Software to design semiconductors



Sophisticated software has been developed for the design and verification of large, complex semiconductors. One of the leaders in the development of this software is Synplicity. Automotive Industries caught up with Andrew Dauman, vice-president, world-wide engineering at Synplicity and asked him about the company’s global plans.

Sophisticated software has been developed for the design and verification of large, complex semiconductors. One of the leaders in the development of this software is Synplicity. Automotive Industries caught up with Andrew Dauman, vice-president, world-wide engineering at Synplicity and asked him about the company’s global plans.
Automotive Industries (AI): In which overseas markets is Synplicity strong?
Dauman: Synplicity enjoys a good balance of revenue from the different geographical regions around the world. Overseas there is strong growth in several regions. In Japan and Korea the strong consumer electronics growth in products such as video recorders and flat panel TVs are driving the market. In Europe, telecommunications applications like mobile phones and also high-end consumer products contribute to our success. The automotive segment, worldwide, while still much smaller than segments like communications is the fastest-growing of all the segments we serve.
AI: Where do you hope to increase the company’s presence over the next five years?
Dauman: The main geographical growth areas we see are in China, India, and Korea but other areas developing automotive, consumer, military and aerospace applications where field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and especially digital signal processing (DSP) within FPGAs are being used will also grow significantly over the next few years.
AI: Which products do you see doing particularly well in the global automotive markets?
Dauman: The two key products for the automotive segment are Synplify Pro Advanced synthesis tool and Synplify DSP synthesis tool. The Synplify Pro tool is doing well because it is by far the industry leader in FPGA synthesis and is already used in many high-reliability applications such as military and aerospace. It offers designers maximum flexibility, productivity and cost effectiveness over any other solution available. The Synplify DSP tool is becoming a firm favorite because the automotive market is increasingly using GPS, as well as digital video and audio which are heavy in DSP technology. The Synplify DSP software makes it easy for DSP algorithm designers to quickly implement their design in an FPGA and still have the ability to retarget it to alternate FPGA or ASIC platforms at a later time.
AI: Have any of Synplicity’s products needed a tweak due to different styles of functioning of overseas automotive designers?
Dauman: Yes, we have tuned our DSP product to include library functions and optimization techniques commonly used in applications for automotive electronics design. Some examples are the addition of advanced math functions, multi-channel filtering, and sample rate conversion used in high-end multimedia compression and speech recognition. Another example is Digital Down Conversion (DDC) used for modulation in wireless applications such as Bluetooth and collision avoidance radar. Algorithm developers have reported up to five times the amount of productivity improvements using these Synplify DSP features.
AI: Is it difficult doing business in countries like China where intellectual property rights are not always respected?
Dauman: There are IP rights issues worldwide and especially in China where we know there are illegal copies of our software being used. We do have a direct sales force worldwide including China and India so we are able to do business effectively in those regions. Of course, like any software company, we would like to see IP rights respected on a worldwide basis.
AI: Do you plan to increase the share of global revenues and if so, how do you think it will happen?
Dauman: We plan to continue to grow the company which we have been able to do steadily over the 12 years Synplicity has been in business. We enjoy a good balance of revenue from the different geographical regions, but expect global markets specializing in consumer and automotive applications to grow at a faster pace than some of the more traditional markets for FPGAs such as communications.

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