<p><i>Jeff Welser is director of high-performance logic technology at IBM Microelectronics Division (East Fishkill, N.Y.)</i></p>

Another commentator had some practical advice: Start a design or verification project on your own through the Web site, complete the project and bring the documentation to your next job interview.

Visibility over the next three to six months has clearly improved from a year ago but remains murky beyond that time frame,” de Geus said, noting that Synopsys' strongest sales for the quarter were to the Wi-Fi, consumer, handset and automotive sectors.

We are presently following a small but growing number of design starts in 90 nanometer,” he said. Today we track roughly 120 design starts at 90 nm, up from about 90 such starts last quarter.”

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De Geus said that Synopsys was able to displace a large competitor” in both design and verification flows in the last quarter with its Galaxy and Discovery platforms, respectively. Forty percent of all static timing customers purchased or upgraded to Synopsys' PrimeTime SI tool-a part of the Galaxy platform-during the quarter, de Geus said.

This suggests that users are moving to the latest static timing product, presenting a big renewal opportunity for Synopsys in future quarters, he said.

One large semiconductor company is standardizing” on Discovery, he said, and Synopsys is displacing a competitor de Geus did not identify on the verification front at that customer. The Discovery tool is gaining strong user interest because it incorporates SystemVerilog, the next-generation design and verification language, into the verification flow, he said.

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Analysts said Synopsys' latest quarterly results, its stock split and attendant optimism all indicate that the company is continuing to grow, largely at the expense of Cadence.

Cadence is also being kept at arm's length, one analyst noted, pointing out that Synopsys officials said that one customer accounted for 10 percent of the company's revenue this past quarter, when it signed a 4.9-year term deal. That means Cadence can't sell to those guys for almost five years,” the analyst said.

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That single customer, which Synopsys did not identify, is believed to be graphics chip maker Nvidia Corp. Synopsys officials did, however, name Nvidia's rival, ATI Technologies Inc., as another big customer during the quarter. Analysts noted that ATI and Nvidia have demanding performance and time-to-market requirements, and said if they are both Synopsys customers it shows that high-end developers are turning to the company.

Noting strong growth for Synopsys in Japan, de Geus said that country's semiconductor industry has stabilized. Meanwhile, the North American market accounted for 60 percent of Synopsys' third-quarter revenue.

The timing was just right,” said Bingham. Interest rates are very low and expectations for future growth in stock prices are very high.”

Bingham noted that Cadence will not likely use the money for acquisitions but noted it now has that option if an enticing opportunity were to present itself.

Cadence has been struggling the last couple of quarters and has seen its arch competitor Synopsys take the number one spot in the market in Q2 and extend that lead earlier this week in Q3.

The extra money would seemingly allow Cadence to weather the rough economy for the foreseeable future if business doesn't pick up.

Bingham also shed more light on the terms of the zero yield, senior convertible notes the company issues. The note purchasers have the option to buy Cadence stock 5 years from now at $23 per share or Cadence can pay back the $420 million to the purchasers at the end of that period. If neither scenario occurs after five years, both options renew themselves ten years from now, and if not exercised then, 15 years from now.

I stopped and thought a bit. Then it hit me. Landman had performed the exact same experiments six years ago using Synopsys' Design Compiler, which he presented at SNUG'97. Same fuzzy banana curves and everything. After the Web seminar, bored, I told Rajeev this. He replied, The big difference is that Magma is doing it now and we've added GDSII. Magma's the next generation, John.” And he said that with a straight face, too. Whatever.

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