As semiconductor industry folks know, Synopsys is a behemoth of a company. At $5.84B in FY2023 revenue (FY Nov-Oct), approximately 20,000 employees and a market cap of about $74B, it leads the silicon-to-systems design solutions space within the industry. From humble beginnings in 1986 as a disruptive startup, the company has grown into a skyscraper of success, revolutionizing the industry through continual innovations and expanding its value to all stakeholders. Naturally, it is big news when Synopsys changes CEO after 37 years of stewardship by the founding CEO Aart de Geus. Aart and the Synopsys Board have entrusted the company with Sassine Ghazi to lead it successfully through the next era and beyond.
Prior to his CEO role, Sassine was President and COO, responsible for leading all business units, sales and customer success, strategic alliances, marketing and communications at Synopsys. On his first day as CEO of Synopsys, Sassine communicated his enthusiasm for the unprecedented opportunity ahead, in a memo to stakeholders. Those who read the memo would fall into two broad categories. Those within the first category are the ones who implicitly trust in the astute choice of Sassine as CEO. And those within the other category are the ones who would additionally want to explore the skyscraper’s foundation and understand its structural strength for the next era’s journey.
As Sassine’s memo stated, a paradigm shift is clearly underway to deliver on the era of pervasive intelligence and interconnectedness. Riding paradigm shifts to growth is nothing new to Synopsys.
Let’s first look at how Synopsys has successfully ridden past paradigm shifts to bring more value to the industry and grow the company. We will also look at additional innovations that the company is continually investing in to help it ride the next paradigm shift that is upon the industry. Together, this review should help highlight the foundational and structural strength of the company to scale efficiently and deliver ambitious and sustainable growth.
Leveraging Paradigm Shifts is Innate to Synopsys
The following are some major shifts that Synopsys has capitalized on to grow the company and its value to stakeholders.
“HDL Design” paradigm shift
When gates level description and netlists were the mainstream approach for designing chips, Synopsys pioneered the HDL design approach through synthesis solutions. Synopsys disrupted the market with the first timing-driven logic synthesizer and soon after established itself as a formidable player in the design synthesis segment. From that beachhead, the company expanded its innovative solutions space to address more aspects of a chip design process. Fast-forward and Synopsys quickly grew to be a comprehensive EDA solutions company.
“IP-based Design” paradigm shift
As non-modular design approach started giving way to IP-based and modular design approach, the company started investing in IP DesignWare library. The library started with basic IP but soon expanded to include higher-level IP such as processor cores, security IP, interconnects and more. Soon after, Synopsys became a significant player in the third-party IP market segment. The company becomes an EDA+IP company from its prior classification as just an EDA company.
“Network is the Computer” paradigm shift
The famous tag line “Network is the Computer” is attributed to Sun Microsystems and reflected its vision of network-centric computing paradigm, emphasizing the importance of interconnected systems and network infrastructure. In this vision, the network is the critical component, enabling collaboration, data sharing, and distributed processing. Synopsys capitalized on this paradigm shift by innovating and delivering an extensive portfolio of interconnect IP solutions. The company also delivered security and software testing solutions and became known as the Silicon to Software company.
“Multi-die Systems” paradigm shift
As Moore’s law benefits started to slow down, system performance demands started increasing in leaps and bounds. It became clear that Multi-die systems are essential to address the system demands of modern day applications. Synopsys quickly capitalized on this shift by delivering innovative solutions such as its Fusion Design Platform™ which includes the 3DIC compiler.
Synopsys’ Silicon-to-Systems Approach
As reviewed above, the company has grown from its early roots as a design synthesis company into a silicon-to-systems design solutions company. The silicon-to-systems approach in semiconductor design represents a comprehensive and integrated methodology that encompasses the entire spectrum of designing electronic systems. It addresses everything starting from fundamental building blocks of silicon devices to complete system-level integration and unified design verification through the ZeBu Server 5 solution.
Next Paradigm Shift
In the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI), an “AI network” encompasses various meanings depending on the context in which it is used. It commonly refers to neural networks for tasks like image recognition and machine learning. Alternatively, in the context of distributed computing, AI networks may denote cloud-based systems utilizing extensive computational resources for training and deploying AI models. The term can also extend to AI-powered networks in applications, such as social networks employing algorithms for content recommendation. Additionally, it may refer to collaborative AI networks where interconnected systems work together towards common objectives or in the domain of cybersecurity, where AI is applied for threat detection and network security enhancements. The multifaceted nature of “AI network” underscores its diverse applications across various technological domains.
I’d like to coin the tag line “AI Network is the Consumer” to denote the paradigm shift that the industry is facing now. The AI Network is the consumer, so to speak, driving new architectures, design methodologies, IP and silicon proliferation. The semiconductor industry is expected to double in market value to one trillion dollars or more by the end of the decade. A significant portion of this projected growth is being attributed to this paradigm shift.
Synopsys is increasing its investments to address its silicon-to-systems approach with heightened focus on pioneering AI in chip design. Synopsys.ai is the company’s overarching AI initiative and most recently, the company launched Synopsys.ai Copilot. – you can read about both in this SemiWiki post.
Synopsys revolutionized the process of designing semiconductors and will continue to do so. This is part of the action-oriented company culture that Aart has inculcated into the company DNA. Sassine radiates this culture with several innovative solutions having been launched under his prior leadership roles. I can vouch for Sassine’s passion for collaboration and innovation based on a couple of dinner conversations with him on various topics in technology and innovation.
Looking forward to Sassine leading Synopsys to capitalize on the next paradigm shift, deliver innovative solutions, enhance value to all stakeholders and grow the company.