I won’t be able to attend Chris Rowen’s presentation here at the GlobalPress Electronic Summit since I’m going to the first day of the Linley Mobile Microprocessor conference. In fact I wonder if Chris himself will make it since he was running in the Boston marathon on Monday. He finished about 10 minutes before the explosions but was close enough to hear them and see the smoke.
Anyway, I have a advance copy of his presentation which looks at a couple of things. One is Tensilica’s recently announced video processor that I already covered here. So I’m not going to cover that again.
Of course, Tensilica is in the process of being acquired by Cadence and so the other topic is how Tensilica fits in, or technically will fit since I don’t believe the acquisition has closed. Cadence are also in the process of acquiring Cosmic Circuits which may take some time to close since they are an Indian company.
Along with other IP Cadence already has, in particular resulting from acquiring the Denali product line and its expertise, Cadence has a much more rounded out IP offering than was the case as early as the beginning of this year. Martin Lund seems to have a fat wallet and likes going shopping.
The combination of the earlier Denali memory interfaces along with additional interfaces from Cosmic Circuits gives a rich portfolio of connectivity. Then the Tensilica offering, along with other partners such as ARM, gives a range of different specialized processors for particularly attractive markets. ARM and Tensilica are complementary, in the sense that the ARM processor is the control processor for a design and then one or more Tensilica processors can be used to offload, for example, video compression or hi-fi audio.
Having talked to Martin recently, Cadence has a sort of factory view of IP. If you just go out and acquire random IP based on price, there are basically limited quality standards and low expectation that everything will work well together. If IP is basically completely pre-characterized with no opportunity to make incremental change, it is hard to differentiate and the IP is not well matched to the design (for example, there may be a lot of silicon used up that implements features that are not used in the design). By adding a service component, the IP is customized to what is required without compromising quality or performance.
Where Tensilica fits in is to accelerate time-to-market with silicon-proven customizable design IP, optimized for various high-volume applications such as audio, video, cell-phone LTE modems. It is very complementary to Cadence’s other IP in connectivity, AMS design, VIP and so on. For the key market segments where Tensilica has customizable application specific dataplane processors, the Tensilica acquisition will really strengthen the Cadence IP offering, and make it much easier to go seamlessly from architectural definition to tapeout.