IBM Intros Cloud Services for Designing Chips for Mobile, Wearables

IBM's High Performance Services for Electronic Design Automation (EDA) help small and midsize businesses and startups design chips faster.

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IBM today announced plans to deliver its IBM High Performance Services for Electronic Design Automation (EDA).

Big Blue designed the new cloud service, which will provide on-demand access to electronic design tools, in partnership with SiCAD, a Silicon Design Platform provider, with expertise in EDA, design flows, networking, security, platform development and cloud technologies.

"The proliferation of smartphones, tablets, wearable devices and Internet of things (IoT) products has been the primary driver for increased demand for semiconductor chips," Jai Iyer, founder and CEO of SiCAD, said in a statement. "Companies are under pressure to design electronic systems faster, better and cheaper. A time-based usage model on a need-basis makes sense for this industry and will spur innovation in the industry while lowering capital and operations expenses."

The service is delivered on IBM's SoftLayer infrastructure supporting a pay-as-you-go model that opens up IBM-patented tools—that were previously used exclusively by IBM Microelectronics—to other electronics and semiconductor companies. In fact, IBM's EDA tools have been used to bring more than 100 projects to market, including IBM mainframe and Power microprocessors, interconnects, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) and custom projects, the company said.

In the first phase of the launch, IBM will deliver three key tools, IBM Library Characterization to create abstract electrical and timing models required by chip design tools and methodologies; IBM Logic Verification to simulate electronic systems described using the VHDL and Verilog design languages; and IBM Spice, an electronic circuit simulator used to check design integrity and predict circuit behavior.

These tools will be delivered on an IBM Platform Load Sharing Facility (LSF) cluster built on the IBM SoftLayer cloud. The cluster uses physical and network isolation to protect workloads for enhanced security. The cloud service uses single-tenant servers, which means that clients do not share servers and firewalls and other techniques are used to secure the clients' data.

"Cloud computing has the potential to satisfy scalability requirements in EDA," Roy Jewell, president of Palma Ceia SemiDesign (a Silicon Valley startup that provides analog and RF IP for emerging WiFi, LTE and wireline applications), said in a statement. "IBM High Performance Services for EDA, together with an experienced deployment partner like SiCAD, should make cloud adoption for IP and semiconductor design houses, seamless and affordable."

IBM High Performance Services for EDA enable users the flexibility to scale up or down based on demand. Users also gain other benefits of the cloud, including increased design productivity, reduced capital expenditure and increased operational efficiency.

Moreover, with the cloud service, users will not need to purchase new hardware, EDA tool licenses or data center technology or hire IT staff to manage on-premise environments. The new cloud service will be available in the third quarter of this year.