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Starting from Scratch

In this “advanced” age of EDA, it’s not uncommon for new point tools to come along, improving some bottleneck in an otherwise reasonably well-established tool chain. What’s less common is for an entire new tool flow to emerge. And it’s even less common yet for one to emerge all from a single company. And a small one, no less.

And yet that’s what’s happened recently in the analog/custom world. Vivid Engineering, at its roots a design services house, has launched Symica (they haven’t decided whether it’s “S?-mi-ca” or “S?-mi-ca… my vote is for the former…), an end-to-end suite of tools including

– a design environment

– a schematic editor

– a SPICE simulator

– a waveform viewer

– a layout editor

– a PDK creation tool

– a SKILL translator

They can also connect into other flows for logic synthesis or automated place-and-route.

The obvious question is, wow, why do we need a complete new set of all of these? And their answer is that freelancers and small companies need access to inexpensive tools. From Vivid’s standpoint, there’s not a lot of choice out there, and what exists is expensive. In fact, they even claim that, for cost reasons, some designers are doing chip design using PCB layout tools like OrCAD.

To address this, their full-up package (including digital simulation interface) is $5300 for a perpetual floating node. (The PDK creator and SKILL translator are sold separately.)

Needless to say, a price like that will not subsidize the smooth-talking, swanky sales guy in the spiffy suit that typically accompanies an EDA tool sale. This is web-based selling. They do have live support by phone or email.

This was an organic development, self-funded (and, something that is probably helping them sleep nights, they’re not actively looking for investors). They’ve actually used proprietary formats for their files; they claim that OpenAccess isn’t, in fact, very open. Or at least not well-documented – it wasn’t possible for them to work with that format, at least not at this point.

More info in their release

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