Cadentor's numbers boiled down by Gary Smith EDA


Veteran EDA analyst Gary Smith has published an analysis of the market share that Cadentor could expect to commmand if the attempted hostile takeover of Mentor Graphics by Cadence Design Systems goes through. And he's helpfully provided a big bag of market-share percentages for the important slices of the two businesses.

I disagree with Gary's representation of hardware emulation being equivalent to ESL verification, but that's really more a matter of terminology in the context of an analysis of Cadentor's position. The biggest competitor to the EDA vendors in the ESL verification space is the home-brew lash-up, which is no criticism of the home-brew approach. Since the 1990s, when I saw Matlab being combined with FPGA prototype boards and other simulation tools by one design consultancy, I have seen some very elegant approaches to ESL verification.

However, I can also accept that there are two types of ESL verification. One checks that the system design works. The other checks that the chip that's meant to go into the system works the way it is expected to, and this is where Cadence and Mentor have concentrated with emulation and, in Cadence's case, with the laughable term "enterprise system level" verification. However, under a banner like "ESL verification" you might expect to see the likes of Calypto, with SLEC (although that might appear under formal verification in the RTL group), and the fast-model builders such as Vast.

Gary has looked at a scenario where 50 per cent of Mentor's sales might disappear through 'leakage' — where fed-up customers defect to the other guys, primarily Synopsys. The figure of 50 per cent seems high but also seem possible but the distribution is likely to be lumpy. I can't see it happening in PCB design, for example, as Mentor's experience with acquisitions is that customers do not like switching tools.

Design-rule checking (DRC) is another area where leakage could well be lower unless Cadence management do something really stupid, such as replacing the people currently driving Mentor's Calibre operation.

However, Cadentor could lose out heavily in some of the bigger markets in which it expects to have a leading position. They are mixed-language RTL simulation and mixed-signal simulation. Given that there is no clean way of merging the tools in these categories, the attrition could be severe. Synopsys would be the direct beneficiary of turmoil in RTL simulators. In mixed-signal, there are some new players who can expect to find that they get into more evaluations than they used to.