The current landscape of the Electronics Design and Automation industry is being ceaselessly transformed with the introduction of disruptive technological advancements. This transformation is evidently being aided by organizations working closely in the EDA industry. Fractal Technologies Inc. is one significant example of such organizations. Headquartered in Los Gatos, California, Fractal Tech provides QA software to improve users’ productivity by checking consistency and validating all different data formats used in their design. The company’s goal is to become the most prominent IP & Library Validation Solutions Provider for the Semiconductors Industry, while staying independent to keep its intrinsic value by delivering comprehensive, easy to use and flexible products.
Through experiences with previous companies Fractal Tech has seen the need for IP validation as part of the chip design flow. It is of the opinion that the EDA industry provides a broad offering of EDA tools to design chips or part of chips called IP blocks. QA and IP validation of such IP blocks historically has always been done by internally developed scripts, and tools developed by chip design companies because no commercial tool was available in the market.
Fractal assumed that with moving to new technology production node the need for a commercial tool for IP validation will increase as maintaining internal tools and scripts is not core business for chip design companies. With the introduction of its Crossfire tool suite it has convinced potential customers to replace internal tools with its IP validation solution. Starting with 3 customers in 2010-11, Fractal now has 25 customers that decided to use Crossfire for IP validation.
Crossfire is Fractal Tech’s groundbreaking technology that addresses QA challenges with usability features such as high-level reporting and Transport that allows the provider and the customer to exchange data on the fly, and run the same data set. The additional features that customers are keen on are the extensive viewing and debugging capabilities.
Crossfire’s waiving mechanism allows the customer to waive certain errors, which in some cases are not important for them, with the added ability to put timestamps. The basic goal is to make sure that the IP is validated and consistent throughout the full design cycle from ideation to tape-out. To support more customers, Fractal Technologies continuously adds rules every year, now having more than 300 checks, supporting over 45 formats. Its customer base includes 50% of the top 20 semiconductor companies.
By using Fractal Tech’s Crossfire tool for IP validation, the company’s customers get access to 10+ years of knowledge and experience on IP validation. The team’s experience and knowledge is much broader because it ceaselessly works with 25+ customers, thus receiving input on what’s important for IP validation from 25+ resources. The internal solution used by customers is always based upon knowledge of this company only.
Leading the Automation Revolution
Fractal Tech has been ascending the stairs of success under the proficient leadership of Rene Donkers, the company’s Co-founder and CEO. He started his career at Sagantec wherein he got involved in the Electronic Design Automation industry. Albeit a financial background, he became responsible for World Wide customer support and Operations Management. Nine years ago, Rene and a handful of people noticed a need in the design community for a standardized IP Validation approach to replace internal solutions, and thus Fractal was established by the 3 founding members and Rene accepted the role of the CEO.
Pertaining to their prior experiences, the co-founders decided to build the company with only them as the shareholders. Since the company’s inception, the co-founders have successfully managed to run the company without external investors or loans. “Our strategy is to grow the company by adding customers and investing the returns from PO’s in software and application engineers,” says Rene.
“Looking at where we are today I would say we successfully pulled this off,” he adds. Fractal Tech currently has a total of 25+ customers, 50% of which are top 20 Semiconductor companies, at the same time it always has several evaluations ongoing and thus is looking at a good continuous growth prospect.
Commenting upon the ways for any organization to sustain its market competency, Rene advises, “Focus is the key for success. Believe in the plan you have and keep focusing on the key targets you want to achieve. Define your market and make sure you are best of class and not master of all.”
Keys to the doors of success
Fractal Technology’s team is of the opinion that it is vital to work closely with customers on what they need and expect and to make sure to deliver what one promises. The company also believes that communication is key, and unquestionably, having best of class staff to develop and support the resultant solutions.
Fractal Tech understands that for any customer, feedback is important, and it knows that if customers have a question or an urgent issue, communication is the first part of solving the problem. According to Rene, Same is the scenario within any company. He says, “Everybody wants to be involved in how the company is doing and what the role and added value of each individual is, in the success of a company. Never assume your customer or staff is happy unless you asked and got confirmation.”
Voyaging towards Prominence
Fractal Technology Inc.’s primary customers want the company to be an independent one to QA the mainstream EDA design tools and thus, the company thus aims towards the same possibility. “We want to grow our position at our existing customers and the overall IP market to consolidate our de-facto certification standard position,” Rene expresses. The majority of Fractal Tech’s customer base is interested in the company’s new IP versioning solution currently in development, which will significantly augment their solution portfolio.