Archive for June, 2009

Jun 30 2009

Cadence Services Formally Addressing the SaaS Model

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The service business at Cadence has been steadily operating at over a $100M/yr run rate.  Their services group has been in place performing tactical design for clients (chips and IP), tactical CAD support file and technology file/application program file creation and flow/methodology creation.   This projects and billings for the group have been organized for milestone based funding releases.  The current economy has forced a changed in this model as a rolling cash flow and time based releases have become a big issue for most clients and for the service group’s revenue recognition.  This change has driven the Cadence services group to add a SaaS (Software as a Service) model to their offering.  The offering and the technology has been developed and deployed on a selective basis for the past 8 years and currently supports a less than 100 clients.

Cadence’s solutions offerings are split into five areas: Systems, Enterprise Verification, Low Power, Mixed Signal and Advanced Nodes.  Their SaaS offering is focused on the tactical services offerings that can use defined and stable manufacturing flows and tools – these are Enterprise Verification, Low Power and Mixed Signal.    These three areas are being addressed with a service offering that includes an IT configuration (both client and supplier sides), training for both products and design applications, an engineering/task based outsourcing and the design environment/flow.    This offering is being brought out as a business unit based on recent survey results showing on a typical design project, 17% of the budget was EDA Tool cost, and 23% was time and resources to develop and implement the production environment and flow PER DESIGN.

The model that is being used is that of a traditional ISV scenario.  The service offering is presenting not a pure play SaaS model where the software is just placed in a cloud to achieve higher availability, rather is is an integrated hardware, software and service offering following the model and techniques of ISV leader Oracle.  The Cadence solution uses for following mapping of the Oracle SaaS stack model:

* Access and management : Environment management interface and Remote user desktop

* User interface : End-to-end use model(s) [flows, methodologies, best practices, etc]

* Integrated Software :  Cadence products and solutions

* Database :  Design database storage

* IT Infrastructure : Secure Networking and High performance compute resources

In the new solution the Customer Site only needs to host the design team, a small IT staff and the Cadence remote desktop connected through a VPN.  The Cadence side of the VPN is a hub that consists of Managed design and IT services, compute resources, the design database and packaged design environment with software access.  These hubs are located in 11 location world wide to insure data transfer and access availablity.  These 11 sites are also high availability compute centers with downtimes ranging from 28hrs/year (99.671% avail) to 0.4hrs/year (99.995% avail).

The SaaS programs are project solution based, not tool availability solution based.  This is not simply purchase access to X number of simulation runs or a bag of tokens that can be used on more than one tool in a product family.  The basis is the leveraging of a standardized design environment (naming conventions, scripting, tool sequence, netlist formats, BIST procedure, etc) for a given foundry/process selection.  The use of these standardized environments can lead to schedule improvements of start of design for a full design team in 1 week vs prior project 3 months.  This improvement was obtained by a new medical device manufacturer.

The SaaS model is an service level agreement, so levels of support, mutual resource allocation, length of data retention, data recovery and backup and IP access/compatibility with the flow are all areas of contract negotiation for the projects.  This offering is available now from Cadence.


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Jun 22 2009

Freescale : Zigbee RF4CE now in Golden Unit Status

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The Zigbee Alliance has recently approved Freescale as the first “Golden Unit Status” provider of their RF4CE protocol products.  The RF4CE standard is another communication protocol for the 802.15.4 MAC/PHY 2.4GHz radio that supports Zigbee and Zigbee Pro.  The same base radio can be used and the multiple protocols for 2 way communication are possible to exist simultaneously.  In order to have communication between these protocols, a proxy is needed.

The RF4CE standard is targeted for the Consumer Electronics applications as an RF alternative to IR, Bluetooth and WiFi solutions in TVs, Set-top box , media control, home computer and other function control consumer electronics applications.  The system is frequency agile so it will not conflict with neighboring systems and can support two stacks at one time.  For Smart Energy Applications, an IP stack is being developed.

The TV industry had been quick to adopt this technology, which is in production and has been shipping to OEMs for some time.  This quick adoption was brought on by providing a solution to the IR remote interference problems that are generated by LCD TVs.  The technology also has a very low power footprint.  Traditional RF remote solutions utilize 2 AA batteries with a 1 year functional life.  The RF4CE solution uses 2 AAA batteries with a 2 year functional life (four times lower than an IR remote) while still providing 400M line-on-site communication.  This communication range is significantly larger than Bluetooth and IR technology.

At this time the Freescale solutions are being provided to OEMs of TVs, Set-top Boxes, Blu-Ray devices and are being designed into a new generation of smart white goods.  These current products are supplemented by a platform solution that includes and ARM32 bit core, the RF and necessary passives to make the system functional.  This is being made available as both a demonstration and development platform.

Freescale estimates that in 2009, there will be four million shipments of 802.15.4 based RF transceivers for consumer electronics.  By 2012, They expects there to be more than 160 million products shipped per year using the ZigBee RF4CE technology.


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Jun 15 2009

Confidela – Bringing Cloud Based Document Security to Semiconductor IP

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The semiconductor industry and other IP oriented businesses have to transmit confidential documents to both members of the company when they are in remote locations and to third parties (customers, partners and vendors).   This correspondence with confidential value includes price quotes, RFP responses, roadmaps, specifications, competitive analysis, product design options, and business plans, The primary method is through the marking of the document as confidential on the document and then distributing it normally.  This normal distribution includes email attachments of the actual document in standard business format (ppt, doc, xls, pdf, etc).

The difficulty with this approach, especially if you are dealing with early release information or raw information is, control of the document after distribution.  Confidela has developed a web based application (in its current form free to use at ) called Watchdox.  The product is targeted for several applications including the secure handling of presentations, data and quotes/documents relating to IP and products in the semiconductor industry.  The key aspects of the product are the encryption of the document, the ability to validate the recipient of the documents and restrict their ability to forward, print, copy or view the document.  The view restrictions are currently in the form of expiration time for document access and a second level of security which visually masks the document on the screen with the exception of a “spotlight” window magnifier which revels portions of the screen selectively with the cursor so he content can be read but not screen or photo captured.  The documents under this system can be protected with a watermark in case the print fucntion is enabled.

Unlike the current method where the physical document resides at the recipients site and necessarily their backup environment, the Watchdox system uses a cloud based encryption and data storage model.  In this method, all of the documents being sent in a secure manner reside at a safe third party location with only the notification email directly being sent and residing on the recipient platform. The product works as a thin client app on most hardware if Outlook integration is desired, otherwise there is no installation on the either the sending or receiving platform..  The product is very well adopted to the various use models of the corporate community as it is a single step authentication over a browser.

The tracking history of the document and the reader is currently supported, and future releases will support a full administrator console for complete and complex policy monitoring.  The initial web release supports 16 file type under their encryption model.  They have a roadmap to add associated encryption and tracking of attached data files that are in archive or compressed format, but they are NOT planning to embed encryption inside of the compression step for the attached files.  The WatchDox system is available for use right now at


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