Cadence to Acquire AWR for $160 Million to Simplify RF IC Design

December 09, 2019 by Gary Elinoff

Cadence and National Instruments are ramping up their collaborations to a strategic alliance to facilitate the design process of RF integrated circuits.

Cadence Design Systems and National Instruments (NI) have announced that Cadence will acquire NI’s AWR.

The aim of the strategic alliance between National Instruments and Cadence Design Systems is to provide customers with a seamless flow from pre-silicon development to post-silicon testing.


The Strategic Alliance Between Cadence and NI

The new arrangement builds on an existing, broad-ranging collaboration initiated between NI and Cadence in 2018. The purpose of this collaboration is to hasten both the development and testing of next-generation ICs and modules needed in the burgeoning mobile, automotive, and wireless product areas.


National Instrument's AWR design environment.

National Instrument's AWR design environment. Image from National Instruments

As such, NI and Cadence will begin collaborating to create a connected flow in the design process—from pre-silicon design verification, re-use of mixed-signal test benches and stimulus, and post-silicon validation to production testing. This may prevent designers from duplicating steps and introducing errors. 


Integrating Cadence Products into AWR’s Design Environment

Presently, RF designers might experience a choppy, muli-process design sequence to bring high-frequency applications to market. 

The acquisition will allow Cadence to integrate three of its products for RF integrated circuit designs—Allegro Design Entry Capture and Capture, Virtuoso System Design Platform, and Spectre Simulation Platform—into the NI AWR design environment.


Cadence’s Virtuoso System Design Platform.

Cadence’s Virtuoso System Design Platform. Image from Cadence


Cadence plans to include its Sigrity PowerSI technologies, Clarity 3D Solver, and Celsius Thermal Solver to address the complex issues of thermal and electromagnetic analysis.


Cadence’s Clarity 3D Solver.
Cadence’s Clarity 3D Solver. Image from Cadence

Joseph E. Pekarek, general manager of AWR, states, “By joining forces with Cadence, our goal is to be able to leverage the strength and heritage of the Virtuoso and Allegro platforms along with the AWR Design Environment platform to deliver complete solutions for complex ICs, packages, and boards.”


A Move to Prepare for 5G

In the announcement, Cadence unveiled a strategic agreement “to expand their relationship to enhance electronic system innovation with a focus on communications." It seems that Cadence and NI have recognized that the need for AWR's software will only increase with the rapid adaptation of millimeter-wave applications for 5G. 

Both microwave and RF designers use AWR’s software to reduce time to market for complex applications in the communications and aerospace areas; it is also designed to help complete semiconductor and consumer electronics projects.


The NI AWR Design Environment

The NI AWR Design Environment aims to help designers intuitively integrate designs on an open platform. Image from National Instruments

As stated by Dr. Anirudh Devgan, president of Cadence, “The addition of AWR’s talent and technologies will enable us to provide more integrated and optimized RF design solutions, thereby further accelerating system innovation as we execute our Intelligent System Design strategy.”


Smoothing Out the Design Process

The initial phase of the alliance will be to link the mixed-signal, analog, and RF capabilities of Cadence’s Virtuoso and Spectre product lines with the physical data garnered from the NI’s LabVIEW and PXI modular instrumentation systems.

“By combining NI’s advanced semiconductor validation and test systems with Cadence’s industry-leading technology in analog mixed-signal and RF design and verification, we can help our customers accelerate time to market, reduce costs, and improve product quality," said Alex Davern, chief executive officer at National Instruments. 

The close collaboration between design and test is now a major functional push throughout the electronics industry as a whole, and this strategic acquisition reflects that focus.