Blaze, Aprio tie up in DFM merger

February 21, 2007 – Staking their claim to the mantle of tops in “electrical DFM,” Blaze DFM and Aprio Technologies have announced a merger essentially of equals, though it appears Blaze is the lead entity, with the combined company retaining the Blaze name, and headquartered at Blaze’s location in Sunnyvale, CA.

Integrating Aprio’s analysis and simulation engines with Blaze’s electrical analysis and optimization capabilities will create “the industry’s only comprehensive electrical DFM solution,” enabling chip designers to model, predict, and compensate for systematic variations in advanced silicon process technologies, the companies claimed, in a statement. The end result is tighter control over process variation and dramatic improvements in parametric yield and time to volume production, as well as laying the groundwork for enablement of statistical analysis and optimization tools in the future, they said.

“Aprio’s technology is unique in that it is accurate enough for signoff litho simulation and fast enough for design optimization,” said Blaze cofounder/chairman Andrew Kahng, in a statement. “The combination of Aprio and Blaze will result in the most complete electrical DFM solution available from any source.”

Kahng and Aprio cofounder and CEO Clive Wu will share the new company’s “office of the chief technologist,” with Aprio’s Mark Fournival becoming VP of sales. All remaining Blaze employees will keep their current titles and responsibilities.

Founded in 2003, Aprio is backed by majority investors El Dorado Ventures and Mobius Venture Capital, with minority stakes from Goldman Sachs and KT Venture Group, the investing arm of KLA-Tencor — with whom Aprio has worked on a reconfigurable optical proximity correction (OPC) approach to enhance process window robustness for sub-100nm designs. The company’s range of products includes Halo-Quest, which predicts what a layout will look like in silicon and identifies errors, as well as Halo-OPC/Halo-iOPC, and Halo-Fix.

Blaze was founded in 2004 to develop electrical DFM (power and timing focus), and achieved first full-chip SOC tapeout in Dec. 2005. The company is one of the DFM technology suppliers to the Common Platform technology alliance (IBM, Chartered Semiconductor, Samsung, et. al.) for its simultaneous yield and leakage optimization capabilities, and also has ties to Taiwan’s TSMC.


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