Cadence to buy Forte and build out HLS offering

By Paul Dempsey |  No Comments  |  Posted: February 6, 2014
Topics/Categories: Blog Topics, Commentary, ESL/SystemC, Blog - IP, - Product  |  Tags: , , ,  | Organizations: , , , , ,

Cadence Design Systems has agreed a deal to buy high-level synthesis (HLS) pioneer Forte Design Systems. The move provides further evidence that the big EDA players see the technique moving into wide global usage.

As Cadence’s statement notes, “Driven by increasing IP complexity and the need for rapid retargeting of IP to derivative architectures, the high-level synthesis market segment has grown beyond early adopters toward mainstream adoption, as design teams migrate from hand-coded RTL design to SystemC-based design and verification.”

Forte’s main product is Cynthesizer, a behavioral synthesis suite, and its further expertise includes transaction-level modeling synthesis. The company was recently named the 2013 market leader in HLS by Gary Smith EDA, with a 31% market share. Last year also saw Forte launch Cynthesizer’s fifth generation.

The deal supports Cadence’s drive into both the ESL/HLS and IP markets. On the tool front, the company already has its own C-to-Silicon Compiler, and has also supported interoperability between its Incisive Enterprise simulator and Cynthesizer through its Connections alliance program. On the IP front, Cadence has been building its portfolio through a series of acquisitions, most notably that of configurable cores provider Tensilica.

“Cadence and Forte have compatible approaches to HLS, and a similar vision to enable migration of design to the system level,” said Sean Dart, CEO of Forte. He added that in addition to the existing Cadence-Forte hooks provided under Connections, the two companies’ software will, as you’d expect, be merged into “a standardized system-level flow”.

The integration of multiple IP blocks – and the challenges this presents – have certainly driven the HLS market forward, particularly with the shift to multicore SoCs. Forte has also, of late, embarked on a push to establish the technology for use in low power design as well (Tech Design Forum is currently publishing a series of articles from Forte on this topic – Part One and Part Two are already online).

These trends have seen HLS seat sales gather momentum, led by Asia (especially Japan) and Europe but with increasing traction visible in North America.

“HLS tools are now addressing a broader application space and producing equal or better quality of results than hand-coded RTL, fueling worldwide adoption and production deployment amongst leading companies,” said Charlie Huang, senior vice president of the System & Verification Group and Worldwide Field Operations at Cadence.

HLS in ESL’s bigger picture

The deal also provides further evidence of EDA’s work on creating more integrated ESL offerings as newer and existing players seek monolithic flows to ease adoption and increase efficiency.

Calypto took on Mentor Graphics Catapult C HLS suite in 2011, with Mentor maintaining a stake in the acquiring company. Again, the two had been close collaborators beforehand, with some of Calypto’s strengths lying in the additional use of ESL for low power design.

Analyst Gary Smith also christened 2013 ‘The year of the flow” in the ESL market, noting particularly that Cadence also already has integration with Atrenta’s silicon virtual prototype technology.

Financial terms of the Forte transaction have not been disclosed. The deal is expected to complete within the next 30 days.

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