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Staying ahead of clock a habit at Magma!

April 2, 2008

EDA is a complex industry to be in, what with process geometries changing all the time and EDA firms compelled to keep up with those changes. Magma Design Automation Inc. has been one of those, which has kept ahead of the changes and also managed good growth. In other words, Magma has managed to beat the clock consistently and stayed ahead, and continues to do so.

According to Rajeev Madhavan, chairman and CEO, Magma Design Automation Inc.. Magma has been outperforming the EDA industry by 2x globally. He touched upon the drive toward consumerization. Whle it was driven by PCs during the 1980s, mobile phones and PDAs are now the growth drivers for the common man. The consumer space is driving semiconductor applications as well. These are in form of devices with smaller form factors, where power is an important issue.

As an example, Madhavan highlighted the fact that 75 percent of the chips in the iPhone type of complex cell phone has been done using Magma. “We enable such points to happen. Consumer applications are driving EDA, and we are providing that change.”

According to him, India is a major center for Magma. An entire business line of products are now being driven out of India. The physical verification units – DRC, etc., — are all done here. Magma is consistently developing new products and product lines. Any MNC in India has an opportunity to build relationships with the EDA powerhouse.

EDA is all about integration. With operating margins getting slimmer, most companies have been moving to Fab-Lite. India has great expertise in design knowledge. India should shift its focus on developing the intellectual knowledge side, contended Madhavan. As for fabs, as and when those happen in India, they will definitely create jobs. “Fab-lite is actually good for EDA. It means more design productivity. Leading firms such as TI, NVIDIA, Broadcom, etc., are our customers,” he said.

Magma is now looking at more value addition and faster development. It has covered the entire EDA domain. Magma has a culture of rewriting its software a lot more and also covers all new process geometries. According to Madhavan, Magma is constantly in touch with leading foundries such as TSMC.

It is said that right now, around 75 percent of the chips in 45nm currently use Magma. Magma is also working with a customer in 32nm. Madhavan said: “You have to develop the tools as the processes change. At Magma, we need smart people who can understand electrical engineering and computer science. Growth comes in identifying and building the talent pools.”

As for product lines developed in India, Magma’s Quartz Formal has been developed largely in India. Most of the development work is happening in NOIDA, near Delhi. Work on DRC is being done out of Bangalore. “Every single product from Magma has some footprint in India,” he said. The complexities of chips have been growing and those require more automation.

Magma intends to grow from $178 million to $211 million during 2008. Madhavan felt that as the eco-system units come up in India, the company can move forward. Magma is hopeful that more design companies will be getting into India.

90nm designs major in India
Ricky Bedi, Senior Director, Application Engineering, Magma Design Automation India Pvt Ltd, added that the EDA industry had moved on from being optimizers. India too has to now move forward from being outsourcers to enablers.

He said, “When that happens, India will play a bigger role and offer more services. For example, Wipro, etc., are now doing full turnkey solutions.” Magma India is now working with over 32 universities, regional engineering colleges (RECs), IITs, etc. The intent is to facilitate VLSI programs in all of those places.

However, he agreed that the innovation has not really kicked off in the country. As of now, 90nm designs are in the majority in India, and in comparison, 65nm designs are lesser. Magma has already gone into 45nm, and even into 32nm. Bedi said: “Right now, yield is imperative in 45nm. Innovation will continue in the smaller geometries. Innovation has to focus more on predictability, etc.”

There is another trend worth mentioning — about re-usable IPs. According to Magma, there will be even more of re-usable IPs. As the designs themselves get complex, designers need to achieve those in shorter timeframes as the time-to-market (TTM) is crucial. Replication of blocks is also happening. Implementation of re-usable IPs will go up a notch, added Bedi.

While the EDA tools are now catching up with the advances in semiconductors, it has not been smooth sailing for language. Bedi added: “As far as language is concerned, language itself does not blend so easily. It takes great effort to move from Verilog to VHDL.”

Yatin Trivedi, director, Industry Partnership Program, Design Implementation Business Unit, Magma Design Automation Inc., touched upon the aspect of power. He said: “In the EDA format, it is important that the power format is accepted by as many vendors. The difference should be in the usage, not the format. In any design flow — from RTL to GDS — any design that is implemented must be simulated. Power information is now an integral part of the design. Leakage can destroy a die.”

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