The rapid growth of the interest in Ansys’s semiconductor tools has prompted the company to stage a gathering of its semiconductor users at a virtual user group meeting called IDEAS Digital Forum...
With an annual revenue of over US$1.5B Ansys, Inc. has long been known as a premier simulation software vendor for a very broad range of engineering disciplines. Semiconductor simulation tools have, however, traditionally constituted only a fraction of the overall company revenue. But Ansys’s semiconductor and high-tech footprint has been growing through acquisitions like Apache Design, CLKDA, Helic, and Lumerical as well as through organic growth. Ansys has become an increasingly significant player in the US$9+ billion Electronic Design Automation (EDA) market and is now showcasing it’s increased presence with a virtual technical conference open to users and all interested electronic designers.
Over its 50-year history Ansys has established itself as a leading provider of simulation software for a very broad range of engineering disciplines including fluidics, electromagnetics, mechanical, 3D printing, electrical systems, embedded software, optical, and materials management. Simulation has become a must-have technique for almost every kind of design activity. The Aberdeen Group did an extensive market and customer research which concluded that benefits of simulation from concept, to design, to final validation, before making physical prototypes are huge across all verticals. Customers were able to decrease physical prototyping by 27%, development time by 29%, reduced engineering change orders (ECOs) after release to production by 21%, and most importantly met time-to-market targets 75% of the time. The company’s presence in the EDA market is anchored by the flagship RedHawk-SC product, which is the industry’s leading tool for power integrity golden signoff and is used on most of the world’s significant IC designs. Ansys strength in signoff technology has opened the door to them becoming a trusted technology and business partner with many of the world’s leading semiconductor companies.
And the company has been steadily expanding this footprint under the leadership of industry veteran John Lee, vice president and general manager of the Semiconductor business unit, who joined through the 2015 acquisition of Gear Design Automation. The growth of Ansys Semiconductors has been the result of 3 key drivers: Technology evolution, research & innovation, and strategic acquisitions.
Several converging technology trends have allowed Ansys products to become ever more critical in the design of almost all chips. The growing complexity of silicon processing at 5nm and 3nm (see TSMC’s recent announcement on 3nm with Ansys) requires more sophisticated multiphysics simulation all throughout the flow. Multiphysics is not the same as multiple physics. Multiphysics is the simultaneous optimization of many physical parameters like voltage, heat, current, and timing. Power consumption has also risen to become a critical first-level concern for all major semiconductor designers, not just the traditional battery powered sub-set. This means that the usual guard-banding approaches to securing a stable power supply are no longer feasible or affordable. Both these technology trends have played to Ansys’ strengths and boosted customer demand. Multiphysics simulation allows designers to reliably optimize designs earlier in the tools flow (‘shift left’) and not rely on large safety margins that can compromise their power, performance, area, and reliability goals.
Another growing trend is the move to embrace ‘Beyond Moore’ for applications like 3D-intelligent sensor vision, edge compute devices and high-bandwidth applications. This is a parallel evolutionary track in addition to Moore’s Law of scaling which is driving CPUs, GPUs, and massive AI chips . Beyond Moore includes a range of system integration techniques that do not rely on scaling. This often involves the disaggregation of the traditional SoC into a multi-die system integrated through 3D-IC packages or the nascent ‘chiplets’ (or ‘dielets’) approach advocated by organizations like ODSA. But also more radical approaches, like wafer-scale integration from companies like Cerebras Systems, fall into this category. All of these share a need to expand the analysis of electronic design to encompass more than just a single monolithic design – and this is where Ansys’ deep portfolio of simulation capabilities makes a big difference in analyzing a full system.
Ansys has been able to capitalize on these trends through extensive integration of products from its multiple divisions into a coherent solution that stretches all the way from single transistor characterization, through the full-chip level, to the 3D package, PCB board level to electronic systems. All with common engines and consistent modeling inputs/outputs. This has positioned Ansys simulation solutions as a required set of supporting analysis and signoff algorithms that complement the design implementation focus of other EDA companies.
The third growth driver has been strategic acquisitions of specialized engineering software companies that have brought new capabilities to the mix. A recent example is the acquisition of Helic who contributed a strong portfolio of design tools to analyze and manage electromagnetic coupling and interference. This has become a serious concern for high speed signals on 3D interposers and even for on-die signals. Another is the recent closure of the Lumerical acquisition that brings tools and algorithms for fiber-optic and opto-electronic design.
The rapid growth of the interest in Ansys’s semiconductor tools has prompted the company to stage a gathering of its semiconductor users at a virtual user group meeting called IDEAS Digital Forum. This event is available on-demand for all chip designers to capture informative presentations. The event featured executive keynote speakers from ARM, TSMC, Ericsson, D-Wave (quantum computing) and others. While the technical breakout sessions featured user presentations from Nvidia, Google, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Samsung, STMicroelectronics, Xilinx, Intel, and many more. The full conference presentations can be found at www.ansys.com/ideas.