Intel has acquired another EDA company, although both companies are keeping quiet about the future.
Intel has quietly done another EDA acquisition, this time buying Docea Power, a small company based in Moirans, France. Docea had high-level power and thermal estimation tools. The acquisition closed July 31st.
Docea Power was founded by two brothers, Ghislain and Sylvian Kaiser. Ghislain had spent 10 years at ST Microelectronics as a power expert and was dissatisfied with the tools available on the market at that time. With ST’s blessing he started his own company in 2006 and developed tools to perform high-level estimation of the power and thermal profile. While originally targeting the hardware side of things, the tool also enables software engineers to develop and debug power and thermal management policies before any silicon is available.
At DAC, Ghislain said that there were about 30 people employed by Docea, with offices in South Korea, Japan and Silicon Valley. Samsung is one of its customers, but there is no word of what will happen in terms of support for existing customers or new sales.
Ghislain said that Docea was not looking to be acquired. “What is important in the end is the return on investment for our customers. We have never been pressured to join forces with a big EDA company based on our size. We have been in business for eight, almost nine years now. We are profitable and so the risk associated with using our tools is very low. It can be difficult for a small company to anticipate the next thing and it often takes more time than you expect, but we still have the same passion as we did at the beginning and we still think the big opportunity for Docea is coming.”
Docea has been hampered by the lack of standards in the ESL space and virtual prototyping has not become mainstream. While SystemC and TLM have been around for a number of years, model portability has been a problem and that has slowed adoption. Power standards are also in their formative stages with several efforts going on within the IEEE. Docea was in some respects reliant on both of these and so had an uphill battle on their hands.
Ghislain still sees many opportunities in EDA, and even more possibilities in migrating into embedded software. New features help with the development of embedded software for power management.
“We see new markets and new customers in two areas. First is automotive where temperature is a critical issue. With tablets or smartphones, the designs are at the edge of what the design can support in terms of the thermal budget. For automotive, there are a bit off the edge because of the harsh environment of the car. The second market is IoT and in this market a standard platform will be used. The only way to differentiate their product will be to optimize the software and this applies to power. The hardware and the OS will be a commodity, but the optimization of the software will provide differentiation.”
Back in 2011, Intel acquired CoFluent Design, a company with hardware/software co-design tools. CoFluent Studio was an embedded system modeling and simulation toolset that supported model-driven architecture (MDA) concepts and Eclipse modeling framework (EMF) technology. They were also based in France.
It is unclear if Intel intends to integrate CoFluent and Docea or even if the same parts of the company are involved with these acquisitions. At the moment, the only official word from Intel is that “Docea Power’s technology and team complement our existing simulation tools for Intel architecture product development.”
Sources say Docea’s simulation and thermal modeling are expected be integrated into the Intel roadmap, and will be offered in combination with other Intel simulation tools. So far, Intel has not disclosed any specific roadmap plans.