"Agile Analog looks at the whole way the analog designer works; a proper top down approach in analog; a good hierarchical systematic approach. We have an in-house tool that can take a recipe for a class of circuits from a designer, not just the essential physics but also the rules of thumb they have developed with experience. We have a very big software team working on the tool." Farrugia noted.
The fact that analog circuits cannot be treated in isolation the way digital circuits can, has always made their integration complex and the labour-intensive domain of skilled engineers. If Agile Analog has an advantage here it is still something that the company is not revealing. The furthest that Ramsdale would go was: "Let's say, we don't solve that challenge but we have a way round that makes it become less important."
It is worth noting that company founder and CTO Mike Hulse spent a large part of his career at leading semiconductor companies as a design manager for analogue, digital and mixed-signal IC engineering. In these roles he introduced technical innovations and commercial strategies to improve design productivity, design quality and schedule predictability.
Ramsdale points out that Agile Analog is looking to fit in with the engineering world as it already is rather than asking engineers to overturn what they do. "We sit on standard EDA tools and capture the recipe design intent and make use of the PDK [physical design kit] from the foundry." The fact that Agile Analog works with a PDK as one of its inputs helps with its ability to target different manufacturing process technologies, a point the company makes in its sales pitch.
So what are the limitations? "The classes of circuits we can address and frequencies attainable do depend on the processes," said Farrugia. "The tool is still driven by an analog designer. It is not pushbutton – otherwise mistakes happen – but what it does do, is it addresses productivity."
Next: The 90:10 rule