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Silvaco – SOC Soln’s Acquisition Reflect Systems Trend in IP

With completion of the Silvaco acquisition of SOC Solutions, Electronic System Design sat down with the principals from each company to talk about the future.

By John Blyler, Editor-in-Chief

Quotable Quotes:

… to combine our (processor) subsystems with CAN-FD and FlexRay to service the automotive market.

… our IP Fingerprinting … targeted towards … concerns about (compliance).

… this will eventually lead to the “Arduino” type solutions that will fuel the IoT industry and others.

… We may be on the forefront of the next evolution of deliverables that will be expected with IP.

To grow, traditional EDA tools and IP suppliers must embrace the larger electronic systems market. This is nothing new to Jim Bruister, CEO at SOC Solutions (now part of Silvaco). He has frequently commented on the need to adapt the semiconductor IP industry to ensure it will be successful in the larger IOT system and embedded spaces. (See, “How can the Chip Community Improve the Industry for IOT Designers?)

Embracing the larger system perspective is just one of the reasons why the Silvaco acquisition of SOC Solutions is important. To understand why, JB Systems talked with Warren Savage, General Manager of IP at Silvaco, and Jim Bruister, CEO of SoC Solutions. What follows is a slightly edited version of their responses. – JB

Silvaco and SOC Solutions Acquisition
Warren Savage, General Manager of IP, Dave Dutton, CEO of Silvaco Inc, and Jim Bruister, CEO of SoC Solutions, sign the acquisition agreement. (Courtesy of Silvaco)

Blyler: How will SOC Solutions complement Silvaco in the IP space?

Bruister: One way is with a lot of IP, especially for AMBA infrastructure.  We’ve been providing ARM Cortex-M0/M3/A5 AHB and AXI subsystems for many years – both off-the-shelf and customized subsystems. Many IP engagements now require a system level hardware-software approach from the IP supplier and the IP user alike, which we provide.

Additionally, we (SOC Solutions) bring several popular cores to Silvaco, e.g., QSPI, Serial Flash Controllers, AES encryption/decryption, DMA controllers, I2C, SPI, SPI bridges, LCD controllers and more.

Savage:  Systems level thinking has become a big factor in the IP world. SoC Solution’s infrastructure IP plus their knowledge of how to put together both hardware and software subsystems fits very well into what customers want. A minimal overlap of products between the two companies also helps.

Blyler: What markets will be opened up?

Bruister: The combination of existing products from both companies will open up markets in automotive, industrial, IoT and perhaps medical industries.  For example, we intend to combine our Cortex-M0/M3 (or other CPUs such as ColdFire) subsystem with CAN-FD and FlexRay to service the automotive market with an automotive platform. Similarly, we will provide a sensor platform that contains a M0/M3/Coldfire subsystem with Silvaco’s I3C core to service the smart sensor market.

Savage: I don’t know about “opening up” markets, but there is a natural shift in the IP industry to align specific products and services that help customers in vertical markets. However, I will say that in the previous IPextreme/Silvaco IP world, we didn’t have the expertise to provide serious consulting and custom products like we have with SoC Solutions. Instead of turning away that business, we can offer something now to customers that need it.

Blyler: In past articles, Jim Bruister has said that IOT chip design must be done differently in the future. Will this acquisition help in that effort?

Bruister: I believe so.  Silvaco has historically been an EDA company with many physical design and analysis tools-libraries. That will be combined with our (SOC Solution) IP and product base to provide a “one-stop-shop” whole chip solution. The best example of this is how we support today’s “Smart Designs” in which more and more digital CPU based systems are added to custom analog to produce smart-sensors, smart-rf, and smart-IoT devices.

Savage: Jim is right: A large amount of the Silvaco customer base is BigA – SmallD, which is in contrast to the IPextreme/SoC customer base.  We are seeing the opportunity now with IOT customers to outsource the entire digital portion of the chip, rather than investing in a new digital team, tools, etc.

Blyler: Security has become a critical element in IP reuse. Will the acquisition help protect IP?

Warren: SoC Solutions was already a supporter of our IP Fingerprinting technology which is more targeted towards companies that have weak internal controls and are concerned about the liability associated with being out of compliance. It really doesn’t protect against people that want to steal your IP.

Blyler: What will the future bring?

Bruister: Already we are beginning to see the fruits of the acquisition.  The SoC Solutions’ IP and team brings the critical mass needed to bring Silvaco’s IP strategy to life.  But it’s just the beginning.  Silvaco plans to expand the IP and Services team to bring world-class IP and services to the industry.  My vision is this will eventually lead to the “Arduino” type solutions that will fuel the IoT industry and others.

Savage: Yes, that’s a good point that Jim brings up.  We may be on the forefront of the next evolution of deliverables that will be expected with IP. Such a deliverable package would include compliance setups, test boards, drivers, middle-ware, and more.   We have definitely seen this taking place last year with our I3C product, which keeps pushing the boundaries of traditional deliverables.

Blyler: Thank you.

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