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Date: 12-03-13

Cadence gains steep share in Silicon IP by agreeing to acquire Tensilica

While the semiconductor industry is becoming not so attractive business, one area in semiconductor industry showing good growth is Silicon IP business. EDA software players are increasingly concentrating on IP business because it’s easy for them to sell IP along with chip design software. The VLSI design software with the ready verified IP gives exponential benefit to its customer both by the reliability and time-to-design. Number-one EDA vendor Synopsys is now world’s second IP company after ARM. The 2nd biggest EDA vendor Cadence has started its effort to grow its IP business. It has recently acquired a well doing Indian analog and mixed signal IP company Cosmic Circuits, and has now agreed with Tensilica to acquire it.

To this writer both the senior executives of Synopsys and Cadence have said they are not going to compete with ARM, that means they are not going to launch any processor IP competing with ARM. While in the rest of the areas both Synopsys and Cadence wanto have big pie and that’s happening.
In this case of Cadence acquiring Tensilica, Cadence has entered processor domain. However it may not be a direct competition with ARM but is a closely related domain.

With the growing big-data, mostly the processors do 90%+ of the time data processing and rest in controlling. With increasing high-definition audio/video the big-data processing challenges to grow in coming years. Tensilica targets this market of complex data processing using different silicon architecture compared to traditional processors (both CISC/RISC including DSP). Tensilica calls them data plane processors. Tensilica says “One algorithm expert or SOC designer can create a customized core in less than one hour” by using its processor IP core. Where as to do same thing using traditional processors it need team of engineers. This helped Tensilica to sell its Data plane processor IP to 200 licensees, which includes 7 of the top ten semiconductor companies in the world.

Cadence to pay approximately $380 million in cash to Tensilica, that’s a good bargain for Cadence. Lip-Bu Tan, president and chief executive officer of Cadence says they would be able to provide VLSI chip designers with a more complete SoC. Otherwise they are aiming to system in software for SoC. VLSI designers only have to pull the IP/subsystem IP and connect them, verify them, make a test-chip as quickly as possible.

ARM praises Cadence for acquiring Tensilica, Simon Segars, president of ARM says We look forward to expanding our ongoing collaboration with Cadence to enable our customers to bring great products to market.

What if ARM enters EDA business! Guess whom it may acquire! Or the vice versa!

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