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Evaluating EDA software or silicon IP is an arduous process that often requires negotiated license agreements, software downloads, installation, and the physical presence of a jet-lagged AE who just flew across the country. What if you could run an evaluation instantly on line, and skip all that? That’s what Cadence is working with independent web site Xuropa to provide – and the end result could impact the way in which EDA software and silicon IP is evaluated and sold.
Cadence today offers some of its most popular Incisive Verification IP (VIP) for evaluation through Xuropa Online Labs. You can go there are look at datasheets and presentations, but what’s really interesting is the ability to run an evaluation using the Incisive Enterprise simulator, following instructions for a self-paced demo. All the software runs on Xuropa servers, and there is nothing to purchase, license, install, download, or upload.
Xuropa is a “social media” web site that offers such features as blogs and networking in addition to the Online Labs. More ambitiously, Xuropa is building an infrastructure for deploying software-as-a-service (SaaS) for engineering applications. Technically, the availability of Cadence VIP on Xuropa Online Labs is not true SaaS, since users are running free evaluations, not paying to get design work done. But it could be viewed as a step towards SaaS. (Cadence separately offers SaaS through its Hosted Design Solutions, which was described in a previous blog).
Cadence started the experiment last year with demonstrations of MIPI VIP components on Xuropa Online Labs. In July 2009, Cadence added AMBA, USB, PCI Express, OCP, Ethernet, and SATA VIP components. Susan Peterson, director of verification IP marketing, said that 12 of the most commonly requested VIP protocols are now available on the Online Labs, with others to be added during the remainder of this year.
I asked Susan how it’s going. “The user response so far has been really, really good,” she said. She noted that users are spread throughout the world, with many from Asia, where it’s difficult to physically bring in AEs to run demos. “Engineers don’t really want to leave their desks, and they like being able to do things when they want to do things,” she said. “Engineers like to get their hands on stuff – to not just read a datasheet, but get on line and try something out.”
Susan noted that working through Xuropa helps Cadence manage a vigorous and expanding VIP portfolio with limited AE resources. One big plus, she said, is that “I can take a protocol expert anywhere in the world, and if somebody is going through a demo, I can get that expert on line at the same time, have them look at the person’s desktop, and help them with their problems and answer questions. It’s a terrific way to tie experts from around the world directly with end users without anybody getting on a plane.”
At the recent Design Automation Conference, Cadence ran its VIP demos on the Xuropa platform in the ChipEstimate.com booth. How did it work? “Terrific,” Susan said. She noted that Cadence AEs running demos didn’t even need to bring their laptops.
In addition to the Incisive Enterprise Simulator, customers can access the Incisive Enterprise Manager (which enables metric-driven verification) and Incisive Formal Verifier to exercise VIP components. The process is fairly simple. Users log in with their corporate ID, and many customer companies are already whitelisted. Users can then access datasheets, presentations, and self-paced demos. What they can’t do is upload their designs and do actual design work.
James Colgan, Xuropa president, said he’s been “very happy with the response” to the Cadence offering. “What we are seeing is an acceleration of the sales process,” he said. “You’re able to cut weeks, if not months, out of the evaluation process, and close sales a lot more quickly without having to put an AE on the plane.”
The ultimate vision behind Xuropa is the deployment of SaaS for EDA tools. That will take some time to unfold. Meanwhile, Cadence and Xuropa are offering an innovative approach to IP evaluation. It’s a good first step in what should prove to be an interesting journey.