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The tools for the job

With high levels of investment in eda tools, programmable logic companies control their own destinies. By Paul Dempsey.

It is tempting to see the extraordinary competition in eda tools between the leading programmable logic and fpga vendors as merely an extension of what is happening in that market. But this is only half the picture.
Altera reckons its investment in eda support runs at the level of a ‘Top 5’ eda vendor. Xilinx offers comparable software and so can be assumed to be investing a similar amount of cash. Such numbers go some way beyond simple tit for tat marketing.
Part of the reason why fpga players develop their own tools goes back to a hard lesson Xilinx taught some then major players back in 1995 when it bought place and route specialist NeoCAD. The company had been supplying support for, amongst others, programmable devices from AT&T’s microelectronics division and Motorola, as well as its new owner. Indeed, AT&T’s ORCA architecture was one of the big products at the time; but it wasn’t for much longer.

Paul Dempsey

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