Thursday, May 18, 2006

Virtual System Simulation Evolution: Virtio Acquired by Synopsis

On Tuesday, there was interesting news in the ESL space. EDA leader Synopsys announced that it would acquire virtual system simulation player Virtio in a deal valued at around "$15 million depending on 'earnout'" according to EE Times.

With EDA, ESL, and virtual system simulation (VSS) vendors reporting encouraging revenue growth of late, the growing complexity of hardware architectures and increasing role of software development, as well as moves from other industry leaders like CoWare to enable hardware and software design/validation through a common platform, the time appears to have arrived for more unified ESL/VSS solutions.

While both ESL and VSS solutions hold their own value as stand-alone products used in the hardware development and software development processes respectively, the prospect of being able to use a single platform to both evaluate hardware designs and virtually vet software prior to fabricating the physical hardware seems an attractive notion.

Of course the real value in this concept is only realized where companies can get hardware and software development teams to work in a more collaborative way -- something that would be a substantial change from the way that today's embedded products are brought to market. However, this seems to be changing, especially amoung companies on the bleeding edge in time-to-market sentive industries like consumer electronics and telecom.

If, in fact, more unified ESL/VSS development turns out to be the long-term direction of the market, the next logical questions are: how will the remaining standalone VSS leaders be impacted by this type of an evolution, and what steps will the leading EDA players, namely Cadence and Mentor, take next?