MARLBORO, Mass. Taking a unique approach to the EDA market, startup Novilit Inc. is preparing a system-level design tool specifically for communications protocols. The company's founders have no commercial EDA experience, but believe they're looking at a billion-dollar market opportunity.
Novilit is developing AnyWare, a compiler that can take a communications protocol such as IEEE 802.17, SCSI over IP, or 3G and implement it in hardware, software, or firmware. The company promises a path to RTL code for implementation in ASICs, FPGAs or network processors.
Few EDA tools have such a specific focus, but a general-purpose approach no longer works for communications designers, said Axel Tillmann, chairman and chief executive officer of Novilit. "If the underlying building blocks are too general-purpose, it will lead to inefficient code in terms of timing or footprint," he said. "By only a ddressing what's needed for the communications market, we're providing what designers are asking for."
Tillmann was previously vice president of sales and marketing at telecommunications company Azure Technologies prior to its acquisition by GN Nettest. He co-founded Novilit with Vladimir Novikov, who serves as chief technology officer. Novikov worked on compiler technology in Russia for many years, and previously led development teams at Net2Net and Azure Technologies.
Novilit has received $3.5 million in venture funding and currently employs 20 workers, but has an ambitious vision.
"We have analyzed what is being spent today to build communications products, and it's around $10 billion," said Tillmann. "Companies are spending 70 to 80 percent of that $10 billion on in-house development. With our technology, we are cutting their times by 70 percent. If I say very conservatively that I can capture 10 percent of that [$10 billion] revenue stream, we have a very good future ahead of us."
The An yWare tool is currently in beta sites, with a product introduction planned for June. Tillmann declined to provide product details, but outlined some basic concepts.
"We have designed a technology that can very efficiently allow you to describe communications behavior," said Tillmann. "It allows the user to stay on the design level and not go into the implementation level at all."
Ahead of system-level design
That puts the technology ahead of current system-level design products, Tillmann said. "Lots of people talk about [hardware/software] co-design, but in co-design, I have to acknowledge a target and start making compromises. What we bring to the table is an ability to be completely independent of the target."
Daya Nadamuni, an analyst at Gartner Dataquest, called Novilit's approach a "good idea" that can bring flexibility to designers. She also noted a potential problem: "You have to learn their proprietary language to use the tool," she said. "It depends on how willing your en gineers are to learn yet another language."
Tillmann called Novilit's proprietary language an "asset" that can speed design, and said it will be easy for communications designers to learn. "I think we have superior technology, and we will capture the communications implementation market," he said.
Tillmann said Novilit has initiated discussions with several EDA providers, but he declined to name them. "We could feed into their tool chains and be very complimentary to them," he said.