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Monterey Gets Bold on Web Biz - Monterey Design Systems' eDolphin - Company Business and Marketing

Monterey Gets Bold on Web Biz - Monterey Design Systems' eDolphin - Company Business and MarketingMonterey Design Systems Inc. during the last six months has been more than willing to speak out whenever anyone wanted to talk about what's wrong with electronic design automation (EDA), particularly the bad software licensing models and the difficulty and expense of high-end CAD.

The reason why Monterey has been so vocal became clear Wednesday, when the company rolled out eDolphin, a broad new business model for serving the semiconductor design community, especially ASIC vendors.

Monterey's eDolphin is a new version of its flagship Dolphin flow, which concurrently engineers the physical design (down to the GDSII file the fab needs) of a chip design, starting with synthesized register level transfer. eDolphin employs xWindows, the Unix application that allows for intranet and Internet deployment of Dolphin's capabilities from the main server where it is housed, whether that server is at Monterey, at the customer, or at an outsourced "server farm."

So in two of these scenarios, Monterey--or the so-called "co-location provider" (a term coined for firms like Exodus Communications Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., who maintain huge Web sites like Lycos)--hosts Dolphin and maintains the server where it resides. This software hosting, which is the foundation of being an application service provider (ASP), should save Monterey money on the sales channel and on software technical support. It also should save EDA customers money in their CAD budget for software licenses, and new workstations.

Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif., has provided money for the launch of eDolphin, which should open the door for those large servers to be HP 9000 N-class servers, rather than those from its competitor, Sun Microsystems Inc. It also should ingratiate HP with the EDA community.

Monterey emphasizes the flexibility that these new arrangements give design teams. Customers can choose one of three ways to pay for use of the software, including paying on a per design-basis for designs that reach silicon and signing a time-based design service agreement that only lasts for one month.

"For semiconductor design teams who want to grow and address new business opportunities, they face significant limitations in the expensive and long ramp time to add computing capacity or more software seats," said Jacques Benkoski, president and chief executive officer of Monterey, Sunnyvale, Calif. "The classic licensing models do not apply when they need 50 more seats right away and only for six months. The classic licensing models do not work for them," he said

. Bringing up a design team very fast sounds like just what the Taiwanese foundries ordered. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and United Microelectronics Corp. quickly are increasing their design staffs and expenditures to be sure customers can move designs out and into the fab. However, Monterey's Benkoski emphasized that's not the case.

"This is not a way to take away business from ASIC vendors and give it to the foundries," Benkoski said. "The foundries really own a loose knit assembly of tools. We haven't gotten to the point where a foundry will commit to own the tools like this."

Rather, Benkoski said eDolphin is meant for the big ASIC players, some of which are already Monterey customers like LSI Logic, Fujitsu and NEC.

Fujitsu Microelectronics Inc., San Jose, endorsed the technology, but preferred not to specify how it would be implemented. John Barr, managing director and EDA analyst at Needham & Co., sees Fujitsu implementing eDolphin and leveraging what it finds with the system for a release to customers of the Fujitsu IPSymphony design and reuse flow.

And Barr sees a much bigger result of Monterey's move last week. Barr believes Cadence Design Systems Inc., San Jose, and to a slightly lesser extent, Synopsys Inc, Mountain View, Calif., have to act now to show EDA customers they have been working on similar offerings.

Cadence is expected by Barr and others to have already done a fair amount of work in turning its large, established worldwide design services centers into software hosting centers for all customers, not just Cadence design consultants on customer retainer. And Synopsys indicated in its second-quarter earnings call that it had customers accessing software in this way, although nothing has been announced.

Monterey does not necessarily have a lead on Cadence or Synopsys. Monterey demonstrated the software in its press event last week, but it is not due until late this quarter--and then only for a select group of customers. But Synopsys may have another reason to watch Monterey.

"On March 29, we will introduce a new front-end (logic design or synthesis) product that has the ASIC vendors even more in mind," Benkoski hinted last week.