Cooperation Instead Of Competition

Learning to cooperate instead of compete was the hardest part.

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I spent more than 20 years working in EDA and managed to do so without ever working for one of the big three. Big EDA companies were always the competition. Oh sure, you’d partner with them strategically if you could, but always keeping in mind that little fish swimming with big fish often end up being eaten.

That all changed seven months ago when ARM acquired Carbon’s technology and team. We suddenly were part of a company that partnered with and enabled EDA companies. Instead of competing against EDA we were now actively working with them to sell their products and enable designers to be successful with ARM IP. It wasn’t a change that came easily. We had to take the competing company logos off the company dartboards, for example. It has been a productive transition, however, and one which is starting to bear fruit.

ARM Cycle Models are a prime area demonstrating how the design approach has changed. At Carbon, we made a conscious decision to not support SystemC models of ARM IP. It wasn’t that we couldn’t make them, of course, but there was a concern that if we spent time and effort to create these models we’d lose existing customers to big EDA and not gain enough new customers selling models to EDA customers to compensate. It may have been an unfounded concern, but when you’re in a small company, decisions like that can make or break you. Carbon kept the focus exclusively on SoC Designer support for ARM IP models. We had plenty there to keep us busy.

As a part of ARM, instead of keeping the models closed in order to maintain our sales we’re opening them to enable use by our ecosystem partners. Instead of using proprietary interfaces we’re using TLM-2.0 and SystemC. Instead of providing a portal that configures models for a single environment we’re now enabling models that work in every environment. In short, instead of using Cycle Models as a means to drive sales of an EDA tool we’re using them enable broader customer productivity in every EDA partner’s tool.

This week’s press release is a prime example of what ARM is now enabling with Cycle Models. We’re working with Synopsys to integrate Cycle Models into Platform Architect and Virtualizer. Along the way we’ve already enabled multiple customers to create automotive and base-station virtual prototypes. We’re working with Cadence to integrate Cycle Models into their Interconnect Workbench (IWB) product to take advantage of the portal configuration features of Cycle Models. We’re also enabling IWB usage by users who don’t have access to ARM RTL for the components they’re integrating.

And this is just the beginning. We’ve had to take some time to build up the instrumentation infrastructure to support SystemC. Now that it’s in place you’ll see all future Cycle Models coming out with SystemC support. You’ll also see an expanded set of SystemC Cycle Models features as the team works hard to ensure that SystemC Cycle Models have all the features that our SoC Designer users have come to expect. No commitments yet, but we should have some more news on this later this year.

We’ll be showing all of this at DAC next week in booth 1748. We’ll have talks in partner booths, joint customer meetings, panels and press briefings. I just need to make sure we pack the right dartboard for the break room.