Daniel Nenni, founder of Semiwiki interviewed Chouki Aktouf CEO of Defacto.
“For more than 18 years, we never stopped innovating at Defacto. We are aware of EDA Mantra “Innovate or Die!”. Innovation is in our DNA, and we never stopped adding new automated capabilities to the SoC design community to help facing complexity and cost challenges, which increase every year.”
Before founding Defacto in 2003, Dr. Chouki Aktouf was an associate professor of Computer Science at the University of Grenoble – France, and the dependability research group leader. He holds a Ph.D. in Electric Engineering from Grenoble University
Daniel: We heard a long time ago about the Defacto RTL DFT solution and, since our last interview, Defacto’s SoC Integration solutions at RTL seem to create a lot of Buzz within the designers’ community. Would you please tell us more?
Chouki: Yes, we started as a DFT tool provider more than 18 years ago currently main offer is in the area of SoC integration at RTL, where we help our customers build a unified design flow to start the design assembly and SoC integration process pre-synthesis covering RTL but not only by including other design collaterals such as UPF, SDC, and IP-XACT.
Beyond the automation we provide, we enable a high degree of customization, including rich APIs beyond Tcl, like Python and Java.
In summary, Defacto simplifies the implementation process pre-synthesis by taking care of the RTL, including system Verilog and all the design data correlated to the RTL. A typical example is the Accellera standard IPXACT used to describe, integrate, and share IP and sub-systems. Defacto now has a complete offer where IP-XACT and RTL are tight to each other in a one and a unified SoC implementation platform.
Daniel: You talk about IP-XACT for integration and, we heard about the Magillem acquisition. Is it a good opportunity for you to help customers in this area?
Chouki: Customers are telling us that they don’t want IP-XACT to be decorrelated to the RTL, and they are pushing us to cover the IP-XACT related needs not only in terms of coherency checks and view generation but, more importantly, during the RTL SoC integration process. The good news is that we are ready to answer the IP-XACT Design assembly and SoC Integration needs. We already count daily users for real projects. In summary, we are helping both new IP-XACT adopters who need a smooth, reliable migration in full compliance with RTL design flows and companies who already consider IP-XACT as a golden format. In other words, we believe we are covering current market needs, and we are even anticipating the future. Indeed, being an active Accellera member, we capture customer needs beyond current IP-XACT 2009 and 2014 standards.
Daniel: You talk about UPF and SDC. How do you manage them during the integration process? Do you update them as well?
Chouki: SDC and UPF are necessary to design collaterals that are key during the SoC implementation process. Managing RTL alone is not enough. Updating UPF and SDC files when RTL changes is a painful design task that is traditionally manual. Defacto provides automation to cover checking between RTL and SDC/UPF but also updating UPF and SDC along with RTL changes and many other related automated capabilities.
Daniel: Your platform seems to be a complete solution for SoC Integration, covering all the needs at Front-end. Who is the typical customer of Defacto?
Chouki: Most SoC companies and major IP providers build SoC chips for their customers who need to bring more automation into their design flows. Today we are in a situation where most SoC companies buy IPs from 3rd parties, build their own IPs, reuse part of previous projects and nothing is packaged the same way. It becomes a mess when it’s time to realize the SoC Assembly. Using the flexibility of our platform, designers can start building their SoC faster and earlier.
We are proud to count as customers major semiconductor companies leading the chip market of communication, processors, AI, IoT, etc.
Daniel: What makes customers go with your solution, what do they find in your company that doesn’t exist in the other EDA vendors like the majors?
Chouki: Our solution has reached a maturity level that makes our customers more confident to manage aggressive PPA requirements when using Defacto. We already contributed in silicon success for so many different projects including leading edge technologies. We are not competing with Majors EDA companies. We strongly believe we are complementary to their EDA tools in the area of the SoC integration and design assembly. Also since Defacto’s STAR is more a platform than a point tool, a user finds several customization ways of the used features including the API languages. In summary our customers are telling us they like the flexibility and the ease use of our tools. Even the migration of their internal scripts, it is straightforward when switching to Defacto’STAR.
Daniel: What are the plans for Defacto in the coming years?
Chouki: Defacto is growing and will continue to grow. We are present in almost all territories with local technical expertise. In the coming months, we are preparing new announcements of our STAR Platform with new capabilities that will continue putting STAR much ahead as the “De facto” SoC Integration and Assembly solution pre synthesis. Finally, when using Defacto our customers know they will get best in class combination: support and product quality. To protect this “support & quality” brand, we will not stop improving daily our support by making our reactivity even better and also the quality of our tools by strengthening our internal QA process.