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HDL tools Altera is looking for outside

SANTA CRUZ, California-based Altera Corporation has announced an OEM deal to resell synthetic and analog products, the strongest support for third-party EDA tools for Synopsys and Mentor Graphics. These deals highlight the growing importance of HDL-based synthesis and simulation in high-density FPGA designs.

As part of the Quartus and Max + Plus II development environment, Altera will offer either Synopsys' FPGA Express or Mentor's Exemplar LeonardoSpectrum options. Comprehensive tools. Altera will also provide Mentor's Model Technology ModelSim VHDL and Verilog simulators.

Altera tool pricing will remain the same, with PC-based licenses ordered for $ 2,000 per year, and Synopsys and Mentor tools will be sent as upgrades to approximately 20,000 current users in March, one of the largest injections of HDL-based design tools to date. OEM tools are only available for Altera devices.

Altera has always chosen to develop its own tools, and currently offers its own VHDL and Verilog synthesis as part of the Quartus and Max + Plus II packages. Erik Cleage, senior vice president of marketing at Altera, said the company has realized that third-party synthesis tools do a better job of high-density logic.

"We think it's good for us to bring the best performance to our customers, and the form of these third-party tools," Cleage said. "It also allows us to prioritize our comprehensive development to support improved placement and routing tools, and we think we can make the best use of performance."

Altera does not provide HDL simulators and has seen very limited HDL simulation use in its customer base so far. But the company believes that simulation will become more important as density increases, which is why Altera chose to introduce the ModelSim tool, Cleage said.

Seeding base
Altera has been priced far lower than Synopsys or Mentor charge for standalone products, and these companies cannot count on making a lot of money from OEM deals. But Anne Wagner, general manager and vice president of Mentor HDL, said acquiring tools for Altera's huge customer base is a good strategy.

"Now we have OEM agreements with all major FPGA companies," she said. "This puts my FPGA design tools in the hands of more than 85% of designers. For us, this is a great deal for us and a great business opportunity for us."

Synopsys and Mentor tools as part of the OEM deal only provide libraries for Altera devices. As a result, both companies believe that some users will need to pay to upgrade to mature standalone tools for general device support.

Cleage noticed that Altera resold Exemplar synthesis only in Verilog a few years ago, after which the company developed its own Verilog synthesis. Altera also partnered with Synopsys last year to create a specific version of the FPGA compiler for Altera that is available to Synopsys Design Compiler users for free.

However, the latest OEM agreement is Altera's broadest term third-party EDA tool. "This is a change in our philosophy of deploying third-party capabilities," said Cleage.

As of today, Cleage said, most designers using Altera Flex and Apex devices use HDL synthesis. Most of the less complex Max devices use Altera's AHDL language or schematic input. But the situation with HDL simulation is much less, because the user can simply program the device, insert the device, and see if it works.

"Some people think less analog and take full advantage of programmability," Clichy said. "Frankly, we're driving this idea. But it's clear that people are increasingly inclined to simulate."

Altera promises that Synopsys and Mentor tools will be tightly integrated with Quartus and Max + Plus II. "From one tool to another, it will be smoother and pass parameters more efficiently," said Dave Greenfield, director of tool marketing at Altera.

However, Greenfield said Altera designers can still "very effectively" use other third-party synthesis and simulation tools.

Synopsys and Mentor Tools will launch all new subscriptions in March 2000 and will be shipped as an upgrade to subscribers at the time. Altera charges $ 2,000 per year for PC-based licenses and $ 2,995 for Unix-based licenses.

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