Would you like your EDA tools to run or load faster? Do you want to quickly and securely resolve any tool-related issues you experience with Cadence products? The Cadence IT group has a couple of programs that can help. One is the recent Customer Collaboration Initiative (CCI), which focuses mostly on product issues, and another is the Cadence EDA Infrastructure Acceleration Services, which helps customers improve their underlying CAD infrastructures.
As I noted in a previous blog post, the Cadence IT experts are not content to stay within company walls (figuratively, I mean). In concert with Cadence sales and services organizations, they're actively helping customers get the most out of their EDA compute infrastructures and Cadence tools. They're providing secure ways to debug problems, and they're helping resolve common infrastructure issues with operating systems, storage, and networking.
This is a new direction for the EDA industry and perhaps a new business model. "It's clear that when we get into customer sites that our competitors aren't doing anything like this," said Joe Macaluso, IT senior program manager at Cadence. "They're not deploying any IT resources and they're not helping customers solve any IT related issues."
The objective of CCI is to establish a collaborative infrastructure with Cadence customers for faster issue resolution, real-time collaboration, and increased productivity using Cadence tools. Charles Byrd, CCI program lead, noted that the program is used for debugging problems, engineer-to-engineer collaboration, tool introduction, design collaboration, and benchmarking.
There are two main technology offerings within CCI. One is VCAD chambers, which have provided physically secure compute environments at Cadence for many years. Customers can upload their data into a firewall-protected VCAD chamber, put together some test cases, and work with Cadence personnel to debug problems. Another offering, Imera, provides a remote GDB debug capability. Imera supports peer-to-peer collaboration and makes it possible to share a desktop with Cadence personnel, while all customer data remains at the customer site.
With this year's CCI rollout, Byrd said, "we created a duplicatable process that is quite streamlined" and that provides a single point of contact for the customer. Through CCI, Cadence experts can resolve a broad range of issues "without having to put people on flights to look at the data," as Macaluso put it. Sometimes, though, what appears to be a tool issue is really an infrastructure issue. And that's there the EDA Infrastructure Acceleration Services comes in.
Making Tools Run Faster
Macaluso said that there are three major categories of infrastructure problems that make tools load or run slowly, or not perform to expectations. They are:
- Operating system issues. Sometimes Linux versions are out of date or are not optimized to run tools efficiently. Also, many companies don't have a repeatable process for imaging hardware. That task may take 60 or 70 steps, and if an engineer has to image 20 machines manually, "you'll probably get 16 different images of the OS," Macaluso said.
- Storage. "EDA hammers storage," Macaluso said. "There are a lot of challenges with storage and with accessing volumes of data. Having the right storage setup is key."
- Networking. Sometimes routing is incorrect or ports are not set up correctly, or there is a mismatch in data rates between the rack and a device. "Our recommendations are typically in terms of network monitoring and understanding where your congestion points are," Macaluso said.
Beyond these common problems, Macaluso noted, sometimes customers just need a better understanding of how the infrastructure was designed and intended to be used. They may try to use an interactive machine to do a batch job, use non-optimized generic wrappers to load tools, or use a wrapper for an old tool version that has different compute requirements.
Byrd noted that "some customers will launch a Cadence tool and it takes a long time to load. We come in and analyze it, and we chop it to a fraction of the time, basically making sure customers are getting what they paid for and that the software is usable and does its job. The configuration of the environment can have a dramatic impact on how tools perform."
It all makes sense. The people who run IT for the people who develop EDA tools are in an excellent position to help EDA customers get the most for their money.