Sometimes the path to adoption of an EDA technology is longer, and sometimes shorter. EDA-savvy readers will nod knowingly when I say that the path to adoption for electronic system-level (ESL) tools is now about as long as it can get. It's hard to believe that we're in August of 2011 and still can debate when and how ESL tools and methodologies will see mainstream adoption. But here we are.
Mentor Graphics has been in the ESL game for a good long time, having launched its Catapult C high-level synthesis (HLS) product back around 2005. I was quite surprised this morning to see tweets about Catapult C having been acquired by Calypto Design Systems. My first thought was that this was great for Calypto, because the synergy between the HLS tool and its existing SLEC lineup of equivalence checkers was obvious. My second thought was more of an "oh no" thing: Mentor seems to be giving up on ESL and Catapult.
But after speaking with Doug Aitelli, Calypto's CEO, and with a bit later with Ry Schwark and Brian Derrick from Mentor marketing, I feel a bit better about the whole transaction. The two companies have worked together for years inasmuch as the tools were not at all competitive but rather complementary. Neither Aitelli nor Schwark and Derrick would discuss the terms of the transaction in detail, but it's been reported that Calypto gets the Catapult C tool and Mentor gets majority ownership of Calypto (the latter was confirmed by the Mentor folks).
Both parties point to the notion that ESL adoption has been hindered by a lack of integration. "Now we can open the hood on both tools and achieve tighter integration," says Aitelli. "By getting them together and integrating the code bases, we can resolve the verification issues. No one is doing this and we wanted to take a shot."
For their part, Mentor's Schwark and Derrick emphasized that Mentor is in no way giving up on ESL. For one thing, Mentor remains in ESL on a number of fronts, most notably its Vista flow for architecture design, analysis, verification and virtual prototyping, all based on the TLM 2.0 standard. There's the Sourcery CodeBench C/C++ development environment for embedded application development, and also the Veloce hardware acceleration platform for transaction-based, co-emulation verification. Sourcery CodeBench and Veloce team to form a methodology for pre-silicon bringup of embedded application code.
The integration of the SLEC equivalence checkers with Catapult C, says Schwark and Derrick, will elevate high-level synthesis to a new, more stable foundation. HLS will gain broader adoption, and in turn, ESL in the broader sense will pick up steam, too. Calypto's Aitelli also pointed out that the closer ties to Mentor need not alarm users of the SLEC tools in flows that include other vendors' HLS tools, such as Forte's Cynthesizer. Calypto will continue to support third-party HLS flows.
Now Calypto’s new Catapult team, which includes Mentor’s personnel, must begin the process of aligning the two tools from the ground up. According to Schwark and Derrick, look for more about the technical details and a product roadmap from Calypto in about six to eight weeks.