Triad Semiconductor and Mentor Graphics Announce Low Cost Mixed-Signal Design with ViaDesigner

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ViaDesigner is a new electronic design automation (EDA) tool that enables system-level engineers, who have no previous IC design experience, to design their own mixed-signal configurable ASICs.

Picture of integrator wizard being used in Triad Semiconductor's ViaDesigner EDA software

ViaDesigner screenshot

3.26.12 The End of Full Custom IC Design - the Beginning of the ViaDesigner Era

Triad Semiconductor and Mentor Graphics Corporation today announce a new approach to low cost, mixed-signal IC design, for the masses, with the introduction of ViaDesigner™. This unique offering enables new IC development in two to six months, allows respins in less than four weeks, and can radically reduce the cost and risk typically associated with custom mixed-signal IC design.

ViaDesigner is a new electronic design automation (EDA) tool that enables system-level engineers, who have no previous IC design experience, to design their own mixed-signal configurable ASICs. This new approach to IC design is built on comprehensive system-level design technology from Mentor Graphics and Triad’s intelligent ViaASIC™ library wizards. Triad Semiconductor is a leading supplier of low-cost mixed-signal via configurable arrays, known as ViaASICs. Mentor Graphics is a leading supplier of EDA software, including solutions for high-level, mixed-signal system development and analysis.

The foundation for ViaDesigner is the SystemVision® design environment by Mentor Graphics, which seamlessly merges design capture, SPICE simulation, digital simulation, and high-level VHDL-AMS behavioral modeling into a unified design flow. Triad’s ViaDesigner tunes and extends the SystemVision environment by adding an easy-to-use set of ViaASIC library wizards that help the user design sophisticated mixed-signal circuits while freeing the designer from the tedium and expertise required of full-custom IC layout. ViaDesigner output is mapped to a ViaASIC utilizing Triad’s mixed-signal aware place & route software, ViaPath™.

For more than 40 years, analog design has been referred to as art or “black magic” that is beyond the reach of all but the most gifted of analog IC wizards. For the first time, ViaDesigner makes low-cost, mixed-signal IC design available to system-level engineers. ViaDesigner coupled with ViaASIC technology provides designer’s with a low-cost way to combine precision analog functions, data converters, ARM processors, custom digital logic, non-volatile memory and power management into their own optimized IC.

“Full custom mixed-signal IC design will always be hard work and quite frankly looks a bit like magic,” says Jim Kemerling, Triad CTO. “The beauty and power of ViaDesigner is that we’ve captured decade’s worth of custom IC design know-how into ViaASIC library wizards, freeing system-level designers from many of the low-level chip design issues.”

ViaDesigner supports designing at high levels of abstraction to greatly speed up the development process. ViaDesigner wizards guide the user through the realization of low-level IC elements, such as matched resistors, capacitors, switches, op-amps, etc., without forcing the user to be an expert in device physics or a particular foundry’s full-custom design rules. Triad’s own IC designers focus on the details of full-custom best practices and then make well-behaved IC resources available to their customers for easy selection and configuration of custom ICs through ViaDesigner wizards. In essence, Triad’s new ViaDesigner offering lets system engineers design their own custom ICs in a simplified process that is very much like designing a printed circuit board circuit out of discrete components.

Mentor Graphics is unique among EDA vendors in its focus on various aspects of system design, including multi-discipline, mixed-technology modeling and analysis with SystemVision. “Our SystemVision tool empowers system designers to virtually integrate and verify their mixed-discipline systems prior to physically building them,” said Serge Leef, Vice President and General Manager, System Level Engineering Division, Mentor Graphics. “The synergies of this powerful design environment, tuned specifically for Triad’s needs, combined with Triad’s unique ViaASIC platform, offer a compelling and game-changing solution for the custom IC industry.”

Triad Semiconductor’s long-time foundry partner austriamicrosystems is a leading provider of precision, high-quality analog/mixed-signal foundry services. “austriamicrosystems has a long history of providing specialty foundry services to Triad. Since 2005 several innovative via configurable arrays were developed based on our RF and high voltage CMOS technologies” said Thomas Riener, Senior Vice President and General Manager of austriamicrosystems' Full Service Foundry business unit. “Triad’s new ViaASIC technology and ViaDesigner EDA flow provide to system-level engineers in quality-focused and performance-driven markets easy access to our foundry services and capabilities.”

About Triad Semiconductor
Triad Semiconductor is changing the way mixed signal ASICs are designed. Triad makes ViaASICs™ that combine silicon-proven analog and digital resources onto ASIC die that are configured with a single via-only mask layer change. This approach to ASIC design reduces development cost, development time, and is easier and less risky than traditional full-custom IC design. Triad is a privately-held fabless semiconductor provider of IC solutions for any production volume with headquarters at 3900 Westpoint Blvd., Winston-Salem, NC 27130. Visit: or call 336-774-2150.

About Mentor Graphics
Mentor Graphics Corporation is a world leader in electronic hardware and software design solutions, providing products, consulting services and award-winning support for the world's most successful electronic, semiconductor and systems companies. Established in 1981, the company reported revenues in the last fiscal year of about $1,015 million. Corporate headquarters are located at 8005 S.W. Boeckman Road, Wilsonville, Oregon 97070-7777. World Wide Web site:

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