One of the biggest surprises at the TSMC OIP Forum last week was the reappearance of bankrupt EDA vendor ATopTech. I spoke with former ATopTech CEO and now Avatar IS President Jue-Hsien Chern at OIP. As a survivor of several EDA legal battles myself, I understand what ATopTech went through and I am thoroughly impressed that they had the courage and fortitude to weather a four year legal assault and reemerge under a different name with new technology. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?
About Avatar Integrated Systems
Avatar Integrated Systems is a leading software company in the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) industry focused on Physical Design Implementation. The company’s products enable integrated circuit (IC) designers to create semiconductor chips which enable today’s electronic devices, such as smartphones, computers, internet equipment, IoT wearables, etc.
Avatar’s product line includes Aprisa, a netlist-to-GDS full-function block-level physical implementation tool, and Apogee, a complete top-level proto-typing, floor-planning and chip assembly tool. The patented technologies were developed specifically to deal with the design challenges at 28nm and below. Avatar’s products have been certified by the industry’s top semiconductor foundries for designs at advanced process nodes, such as 28nm, 20nm, 16nm, 14nm, 10nm and 7nm. As a result, our patented technology has been adopted by world leading IC design companies with numerous successful tape-outs.
It really is an interesting story that plays out on the Law360 website. A Hong Kong billionaire businessman (Jingyuan Han) is behind the $35M funding which adds a bit of intrigue. Synopsys, who won a $30M patent infringement case against AtopTech, went through this bankruptcy sale kicking and screaming but in the end accepted the terms. Synopsys offered $2M for assets only, Silicon Valley VC firm Draper offered $8M with ridiculous terms, so the winner is Avatar and ultimately ATopTech employees and customers.
In addition to funding and fortitude, two other things made this transformation possible:
Leading edge products
The Avatar Aprisa and Apogee products are certified by foundries (TSMC, Samsung, GLOBALFOUNDRIES and UMC) down to 7nm.
Jue-Hsien Chern, Ph.D President
Jue-Hsien Chern brings over twenty years of experience in high technology companies to Avatar. Prior to joining, he was vice president and general manager of the DSM division at Mentor Graphics for nine years. He was at Texas Instruments for 10 years, holding positions as SMTS and branch manager within the Semiconductor Process and Design Center. Jue-Hsien has also served as head of the DSM business unit at Avant! and vice president, engineering, and CTO at Technology Marketing Associates.
Zongchang Yu, Ph.D. Chief Executive Officer
Zongchang brings 20 years of experience in computational software development and organization management to Avatar in 2017. Prior to Avatar, He co-founded XTAL in January 2014. Zongchang was also the Manager of Applications Engineering at D2S, Inc. Previous to that, Zongchang was the Manager of Product Engineering at Brion (acquired by ASML in 2007). Zongchang was also Senior Product Research Engineer and Senior Development Engineer at KLA-Tencor. Zongchang started his career as Design Engineer at ULVAC in Japan after attaining his PhD from Harbin Institute of Technology.
Ping San Tzeng, Ph.D Chief Technical Officer
Dr. Tzeng brings over 18 years of EDA experience with him to Avatar. Dr. Tzeng was one of the original developers of ArcCellXO, developed at ArcSys in 1992. He was the key architect in the evolution of ArcCell to the industry known place and route systems Aquarius, Apollo and Astro. Dr. Tzeng continued to work and enhance his routing technology at ArcSys, Avant! and Synopsys (ArcSys formed Avant!, Avant! was aquired by Synsopsy in 2002). He holds the prestigious honor of Avant! Fellow and Synopsys Fellow. Prior to ArcSys, he held positions at Cadence Design and Quickturn Design Systems. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from National Taiwan University and a Ph.D. computer science from U.C., Berkeley.
I would also not discount the Chinese connection and the reported 1,300 fabless companies in China, absolutely.
There is a lot more to this story of course. If you have questions hit me up in the comments section.