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HCL Offers Tightly Integrated Design Management Solution for Virtuoso

HCL Offers Tightly Integrated Design Management Solution for Virtuoso
by Tom Simon on 05-18-2020 at 6:00 am

The road to a truly usable design management solution for electronic design has been a long and twisty one. Initially just handling EDA tool data was a struggle, let alone addressing mutli-user and multi-site needs. Of course, all along every EDA tool development company was internally using software revision control, which worked fine for source code, but was not efficient or practical for large binary files produced by layout tools, etc. The first generation of usable design management tools came as ad hoc vendor specific solutions that were part of the EDA frameworks. They suffered from lack of scalability and being vertical silos for each vendor. However, they did usually offer the advantage that they understood the library, cell, file schema of the underlying designs.

To break the log jam, it would take software companies that specialized in revision control, project management and more. Rational Software was an early leader in revision control for software development and other types of design management. Their innovative solutions were used outside of EDA for a long time. Because of their high performance and scalability, they made inroads into flows based on HDLs and firmware. However, a solid solution for analog and custom design waited until about 8 years ago when they developed a Cadence integration.

Along the way the ClearCase software moved between several different companies. Most recently it was owned by IBM. In 2016, seeking to accelerate development, IBM announced a partnership transferring development to HCL Technologies. This has ensured the proper level of resources and focus for the ClearCase offerings.

It’s easy to see why Cadence users would like the Flexiem design management solution from HCL based on ClearCase. It takes only seconds for a user to create a workspace where they can start working on and accessing everything needed for a design. Even though the design data may reside on multiple servers in local or remote locations, the Multiple Version File System (MVFS) creates a virtual file system where every file is immediately referenceable. Unmanaged files can easily be created and then checked in to make them managed.

Flexium for Virtuoso

Most importantly, Flexiem offers tight integration within the Cadence environment. Design views can be checked in and out within the Library Manager. The Flexiem integration with Cadence understands the design hierarchy and even is aware of schematic level changes between versions. With these features it is easy to check in or out complete design hierarchies in one step.

Because ClearCase is used widely within many enterprises, using it for design management harmonizes well with existing infrastructure. Flexiem also offers a rich and sophisticated access control system which is vitally important for managing who can see and/or make changes to design data. One benefit of this is the ability to protect and track internal and external IP. As hinted to above, the Versioned Object Bases (VOBs) for a design can be local, remote or distributed in a manner that is transparent to the user. Similarly, users can work in teams across geographic boundaries.

The overall level of capabilities that can be provided by a system as mature as the ClearCase based Flexiem would simply be impossible for an EDA vendor to develop. Flexiem is also tool vendor agnostic, so it can fit into flows with a wide variety of tools.

HCL has produced a video that will provide an overview of Flexiem as used for EDA design management. If you want more information, this video would be a good starting off point. Having worked with many design management systems over my career, I can say that the offering from HCL hits the sweet spot in term of performance, usability and maturity.


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