As a leading mixed-signal design and solutions company, Antrim develops and markets portable mixed-signal intellectual property, design software and expert design services to the telecom, multimedia and consumer products industries.
While you may think of your digital cell phone as purely digital--it's not, says Roy McGuffin, CEO of Antrim Design Systems, Inc. "It's actually comprised of mixed (analog and digital) signal technology. The world of digital phones, digital TVs, digitally controlled car components and the like all employ a mix of analog and digital circuitry.
Consider the digital cell phone. "When you speak into it, your voice starts out analog, then gets translated into digital signals, then is processed to eventually come out as analog signals--since we can't hear zeros and ones," says McGuffin.
This fact of physics is critical in the design of today's communications products, claims McGuffin. "In the past, designers integrated analog and digital components on a circuit board. Yet with the recent growth in the capabilities of semiconductors, it's not economical to do that any more." For this reason, designers now face integrating both analog and digital signals on the same chip, which is complex, says McGuffin. So complex that the Antrim team has bet the company's future on its complete mixed-signal design solution--a solution that gives designers a new generation of mixed-signal design capabilities.
A new generation of tools for mixed-signal design
While Antrim was founded in May 1997, McGuffin says his team thoroughly studied the marketplace before diving into the business. "We spoke with forty companies and discovered that designers faced some significant bottlenecks in the mixed-signal design process," says McGuffin. At the top of the list, they found that designers had no mixed-signal design automation tools and no way to reuse their successful mixed-signal designs. In addition, there was a worldwide shortage of mixed-signal design expertise.
Armed with this knowledge, McGuffin and team set out to build a complete mixed signal design solution--one that would offer designers the design automation tools they needed, while allowing them to reuse their mixed-signal designs, versus having to throw them away and start from scratch for every new product. "Antrim's mixed-signal design solutions are the company's foundation, where we give our customers the design software, intellectual property and expert design services they need," says McGuffin.
The Intel 64 Fund Invests in Antrim
By the summer of 1999, Antrim had already released three products and was seeking a third round of funding, says McGuffin. "In this round we were looking for some different kinds of investors, one of which had to be industrial investor--so we began looking to Intel."
Antrim's timing was right. At that moment, the Intel 64 Fund investment team was also scouting for companies that would make good candidates for an investment from the Intel 64 Fund--a quarter billion dollar equity investment fund that invests in technology companies developing innovative enterprise solutions for IA-64-based servers and workstations.
Antrim and the Intel 64 Fund teams met to see if there was a strategic fit and from this meeting determined there clearly was one. "Antrim develops products that require a lot of computing resources since we're dealing with many millions of transistors. With the increasing complexity and size of designs, 32-bit architectures are no longer able to provide the performance and capacity to meet our customers' time to market demands," says McGuffin, "For this reason, the Intel 64-bit architecture was very attractive to us because it provided the enhanced capacity our customers need (versus 32-bit architectures). As well, Intel was building its 64-bit architecture to be multithreaded, which improves performance --and the 64-bit architecture supports the Linux operating system."
All totaled, this made the Intel 64 Fund investment a great fit for Antrim, says McGuffin, since Intel's 64-bit architecture would allow them to realize the enhanced capacity and performance required for Antrim's compute-intensive products--all on a standard operating system. The Intel 64 Fund investment team also saw Antrim as a good investment match, since Antrim was providing a mixed-signal design solution that promised to automate the design of next generation mixed-signal chips--a critical area of need in the industry. For this reason, Antrim received an investment from the Intel 64 Fund in December 1999.
A productive relationship
Today, Antrim is delivering one of the first automated and fully integrated system approach to mixed-signal IC design, says McGuffin. Antrim products include Antrim-MSS for mixed-signal synthesis; Antrim-ACV, which allows designers to reuse portions of their successful designs in new products; Antrim-ACM, which improves simulation capability by calibrating behavioral models; and Antrim-AMS, which gives designers a full-chip mixed-signal simulation capability.
Though the Antrim team is just beginning to port the company's products to the Itanium� platform, McGuffin says that Antrim has already received some useful benefits from the Intel 64 Fund investment. "For example, our Intel Capital representative has introduced us to many of the mixed signal design groups within Intel, which is worth a lot since it really helps us to grow our channel," says McGuffin. In addition, McGuffin says that Antrim has been included in various networking opportunities, including the Intel Capital CEO Summit.
Above all, McGuffin cites the Intel 64 Fund team's business advice as the most beneficial aspect of the relationship to date. "This is most valuable for me because when I deal with people within the Intel investment community I find that they have a lot of the same problems that I meet up with. This gives me a great sounding board, where I can say 'this is what I see, what do you think? This quality business advice is really invaluable to me."
On the flip side, the Intel 64 Fund team also benefits from knowing us, says McGuffin. "Intel sees the world through a different set of eyes, since they're in a different business. We (Antrim) offer them a chance to see the world of communications as we see it, and hear our feedback about what is going on in that world."
" Our investment relationship with Intel (and the Intel 64 Fund team) has been productive and positive--and the quality of business advice we've received has been excellent. I couldn't be happier."
Antrim Design Systems, Inc.
AT A GLANCE...
Antrim Design Systems, Inc.
Scotts Valley, CA
For more information, contact Antrim Design Systems, Inc, .
Last updated: Febuary 2001
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