ANSYS Acquires Apache Design Solutions

ANSYS Inc., the engineering simulation software firm, took a major step to flesh out the electromagnetic simulation side of its software portfolio with its recent announcement that it would acquire Apache Design Solutions Inc. for approximately $310 million in cash.

This is the second major acquisition for ANSYS in this area. In July 2008, the company took its first steps into this arena with its hefty $832 million acquisition of Ansoft, a 25-year leader in the EDA space. The acquisition expanded the ANSYS multiphysics simulation portfolio with new offerings in the area of electromagnetic, circuit, and system simulation. It provided a lineup of products that included Ansoft Designer along with the HFSS, Slwave, Q3D Extractor, and Icepak thermal and electromagnetic field solvers. With the Apache merger agreement, it appears ANSYS is building on this formidable base by adding a suite of power analysis and optimization software aimed at promoting the design of power-efficient, high-performance, noise-immune integrated circuits.

The deal rounds out ANSYS's electromagnetic simulation story, nestling the provider comfortably in the sweet spot of delivering a software suite that is crucial to the design of high-performance, low-power integrated circuits. Nice timing, to say the least. With the expanded portfolio and the Apache technology, in particular, ANSYS has a much better shot at positioning its suite to capitalize on the burgeoning market for mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops, in addition to LCD televisions and high-end computer servers.

ANSYS is in a quiet period, so officials there declined to discuss their formal positioning and rationale for the acquisition. However, there are some hints in an FAQ and prepared remarks regarding the anticipated synergies.

For instance, ANSYS officials outlined two examples of how Apache strategically fits with ANSYS. The first is that it broadens the ANSYS portfolio into integrated circuit chip design, especially on simulating energy-efficient, lower-power devices:

    The demand for more power-efficient and noise-immune ICs has never been greater due to the proliferation of mobile devices requiring extended battery life, the trend toward smaller electronic systems that constrain battery size and cooling systems, the explosion of EMI between wireless chips, and rising electricity costs associated with information technology infrastructure. The combination of ANSYS's and Apache's products and technologies will further ANSYS's leadership in Simulation Driven Product Development for the electronics industry from initial IC prototyping to system signoff and design.

There's a part two to the rationale. That is to leverage ANSYS's global sales and customer footprint to extend Apache solutions to a broader market. Apache's customers include the top 20 semiconductor companies, and many are common customers of ANSYS.

The companies did their part to position the pair's technologies as complementary, with limited to no overlap. According to ANSYS officials, Apache brings the lower-power IC design solution to the table, whereas ANSYS is focused on extraction software for electronic packages and boards.

Apache's products break down into four core platforms:

  • PowerArtist, used on the resistor-transistor logic (RTL) description of an IC, helps engineers meet power budget requirements through power analysis, power reduction, and design optimization early in the design cycle.

  • Totem is a platform that targets power budgeting and power delivery through analysis of memory components like Flash and DRAM, as well as input/output intellectual properties and analog IPs like power management circuits.

  • RedHawk comes into play for power budgeting, power delivery integrity, and power-induced noise analysis of digital logic circuits, system-on-a-chip designs, ASICs, and microprocessor designs.

  • Sentinel performs similar functions by examining an electronic system consisting of ICs, packages, and printed circuit boards.

How might designers leverage the two software suites together? The FAQ offers an example:

    A mobile phone designer architecting the amount of memory (RAM) a new product offers can use Apache's PowerArtist and RedHawk products to create functional designs that optimize power deliver to maximize battery life, as well as leverage ANSYS's thermal and electromagnetic field solvers (HFSS, Slwave, Q3D Extractor, and Icepak) for the optimization of the electronic package, board, and system, and Designer SI/RF (an ANSYS product) to predict system level EMI.

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