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Synopsys Does… Software?

Synopsys has gone shopping again, and this time they went to a completely different mall. They came back with Coverity.

Just another acquisition? Nope… This one seems different.

Synopsys has had their nose to the grind working on chip design since… well, since their very beginning. Who knows how many acquisitions they’ve made (I’m sure someone’s kept count, but it’s not something I pay that much attention to), but all of them have had something to do with chip design.

There was possibly one chink with the EVE emulation acquisition: it’s about chip design too, but it allows more thorough validation of software on an SoC platform before that platform is committed to masks. (Although, if the rumors are true, the acquisition has decidedly not been good for the EVE product line…)

And, if you were paying close attention, you saw the key word: software. Seems that every now and then, CEO Aart de Geus might get a question about other areas that Synopsys might play in, including software. And each time it was a categorical answer that reinforced the steady Synopsys focus on chips, chips, chips.

But Coverity isn’t about designing chips. They’re about finding and fixing bugs in software. And not just software that will run on an SoC. I mean, yeah, that software, but also, any software for running anywhere. Their core customers are companies writing software that has to be clean and defect-free. (In other words, not Microsoft. OK, sorry, that was a cheap shot… far too easy…) Mission-critical software, where failure could cause harm or damage or a recall.

Their technology is based on static analysis techniques developed and spun out of Stanford. They’ve focused on integrating with large-scale development platforms, with complex build sequences and code bases. Decidedly not the kind of thing that’s been going on in the halls of Synopsys.

So this seems to indicate a significant change of direction for Synopsys. If not a move away from chips, then at least a first strike at something other than chips. Have they given up on getting the growth they expect (or the shareholders expect) from EDA alone? Are they going to enter the larger systems markets in a bigger way? Hard to say. But it’s also hard to imagine that their Coverity acquisition would be a one-off. Seems we should be watching for other moves outside the chip space.

More details in their release

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