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Yesterday, in my post Designing Radios and Radar: AWR, I discussed the acquisition of AWR, which recently closed. But Cadence did a second acquisition in the RF space already.
We recently announced that we have acquired Integrand Software. I was actually on the list of "need-to-know" employees on the acquisition, and so I went to the Integrand website to find out who they were. It hadn't been updated for years and the last press release was 2013. I assumed I was on the wrong website. But actually they are a small company, all engineers, with the founders originally from Bell Labs, and they have so much success from word-of-mouth that they haven't needed to do any marketing. And now their website shows that they are part of Cadence!
So to find out what Integrand really does, I talked to Cadence's Jerry Zhao to get a better understanding.
Jerry told me that Integrand is a small company. It was formed 17 years ago and is completely focused on electromagnetic (EM) analysis including RF and high-frequency designs in silicon. Their product is called EMX for Electro Magnetic eXtraction. Since Integrand has been a member of the Cadence Connections Program for years, it is already deeply integrated into the Virtuoso environment.
A good question is that since we already have Clarity, why acquire another technology. Clarity is a full 3D solution (packages, boards, bonding wires, connectors, and so on), based on finite element analysis.
However, down at the chip level, the stackup is planar and the interconnect metal routing runs mostly in the XY direction with vertical vias that connect the routing on different layers. For high accuracy, EMX models the currents that flow through the volume of this routing. EMX calls this “planar 3D”. This is much more accurate than the traditional 2.5D solvers that model the metals as infinitesimally thin conductors. It could be analyzed with finite element techniques, but the performance would not be anything close to optimized. For this, it is better to use integral equation or method-of-moments (MoM) and EMX is the best in this area. It uses an algorithm called the Fast Multipole Method (FMM) to efficiently solve the dense matrices arising from the integral formulation of Maxwell’s equations. They efficiently handle inductors, transformers, shielding, capacitors in the metal stack, and so on.
EMX takes the layout and a technology file (foundry data) and runs the analysis. It outputs S-parameters or a Spice netlist (as does Clarity in its space). Simulations can then be run in Spectre-RF. It takes the raw layout, without requiring the designer to do anything special to prepare it for analysis, including things like metal fill and slotting.
Integrand has pretty much everyone as customers. They have a slide of logos that they use under NDA, but I'm not allowed to put it here. The frequencies involved in high-performance chips are in the microwave range, even if the chips are not officially "RF". So Integrand's customers are not just companies designing radios, but anyone designing very high-performance chips, such as servers, foundries, and memory companies.
EMX can simulate inductors and single components in seconds, component ensembles in minutes and full RF front-ends in hours. I'll just give one example benchmark, a spiral inductor.
Integrand's presentation summarizes the strengths of EMX as:
Cadence now has the strongest product portfolio for the design of 5G radios, automotive radar, and other RF products:
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