What Dolpin Technology Uses for SPICE Circuit Simulation of IP

What Dolpin Technology Uses for SPICE Circuit Simulation of IP
by Daniel Payne on 01-06-2012 at 12:32 pm

Mo Tamjidi founded two Semiconductor IP companies Virage Logic and Dolphin Technology. After reading a press release about how Dolphin Technology is using FineSIM SPICE from Magma I decided to contact him and learn more about why they are now using that circuit simulator in the design of their memory, standard cells, and IO cells.

Mo Tamjidi, Dolphin Technology


Q: How long has Dolphin Technology been using FineSim SPICE?
A: We’ve been users of Finesim for 3 or 4 months now.

Q: What other circuit simulators have you used before?
A: Over the years we have used HSPICE, Mspice, Msim, Hsim and Eldo.

Q: Why change from using HSPICE?
A: HSPICE was slower than FineSim SPICE on our designs plus Synopsys is raising prices on that circuit simulator. Plus, the accuracy of FineSim SPICE is good. We actually use all three circuit simulators from Magma: FineSim SPICE, FineSim PRO and the multi-CPU option. Speed improvements with FineSim SPICE are up to 6X faster than HSPICE.

On the pricing side we got a much better deal from Magma and are glad that our 6 year contract was just signed. Who knows what will happen to products and prices after Synopsys completes the Magma acquisition.

Q: What kind of circuits did you simulate during the evaluation?
A: All of our foundation IP, standard cells, memory and IO.

Q: In your IP business who are the competitors?
A: The two most well-known are ARM (Artisan) and Synopsys.

Q: Which foundries do you design IP for?
A: Mostly TSMC at the nodes from 65nm, 55nm, 40nm and 28nm, soon to be 20nm.

Q: How many people work at Dolphin?
A: Our size is about 55 people, and we’ve been in business for 16 years. Our headquarters is in San Jose, and we have a subsidiary in Vietnam.

Q: What EDA tool do you use for IC layout?
A: Tanner EDA tools (Ledit) running on Windows.

Q: For DRC/LVS what tools do you use?
A: We run Calibre on Linux boxes.

Q: For RTL simulations what do you simulate with?
A: Both Mentor Questa (ModelSim) and Synopsys VCS.

Q: How about Static Timing Analysis tools?
A: Two tools, Tekton from Magma and Primetime from Synopsys.

Q: Which Place and Route tools?
A: Magma and Mentor provide our P&R tools.

Q: What will business look like for you in 2012?
A: We will continue to grow our foundation IP business and hard-IP, while adding some soft IP being (memory controller, test).

Q: How do you sell your IP?
A: In our business we get paid by the foundry and some IP sales directly to customers.

Q: Why would customers buy your IP instead of ARM or Synopsys?
Q: Four reasons: Our IP is smaller, faster, has better options and offer more flexibility. These make a huge difference in the consumer electronics market where cost margins are tighter and they need the best performance and longest battery life.

Q: How long do IP evaluations take?
A: In general we see evaluations taking about 1 month to 2 years. It really depends on the specific IP and the customer. Huawei in China actually took years to complete their evaluation.

Q: Who are some of your IP customers?
A: They include 100 companies, like: Maxim, Silicon Image, Juniper, ATE, Zoran, CSR, Sigma Design (consumer appliciations), Cisco, Qualcom, AMD.

Q: What Trade Shows are effective for Dolphin?
A: The best show is the TSMC Symposium and second best is SNUG. We do attend DAC however it’s hard to see the ROI.

Q: How is your IP sold?
A: Direct sales are used in North America, then we have distributors in China and Europe.

Q: How did Dolphin get initial funding?
A: It was actually self-funded by me.

Dophin Technology found that FineSim SPICE and FineSim PRO provide accurate and faster results than HSPICE does at a better price.

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