Merging Blaze, Aprio claim eDFM crown

by Debra Vogler, Senior Technical Editor
by James Montgomery, News Editor

February 26, 2007 – The announced merger of Blaze DFM and Aprio Technologies establishes an entity ready to claim the mantle of tops in “electrical DFM (eDFM),” in a highly fragmented DFM market with many companies positioning for leadership, according to execs announcing the deal. “We believe that there is room for one eDFM company that stands by itself…and we are going to be that company,” stated Jacob Jacobsson, currently president/CEO of Blaze DFM.

“I think this is a good synergistic acquisition,” said Gary Smith, chief analyst with Gary Smith EDA, adding that the product lines “fit well.” With the DFM market now in a consolidation phase, “there is definitely room for a consolidation of start-ups to stay independent and take a major position in the DFM market,” he told WaferNEWS, adding that with this Blaze/Aprio deal, “it’s good to see that it may not be just a big fish eating the little fish.”

The marriage announced last week appears to be one of equals, though Blaze is ostensibly the lead entity, with the combined company retaining the Blaze name and headquartered at Blaze’s location in Sunnyvale, CA. Jacob Jacobsson, currently the president and CEO of Blaze DFM, will be CEO of the new company. Jacobsson noted that the merger is being accomplished in return for stock.

“The lithography simulation capabilities Aprio brings will enable Blaze to complete its eDFM solution,” said Jacobsson. “Lithographic effects have a significant impact on performance and leakage power, which are at the heart of eDFM. We need to model those effects to have a complete solution.” He also touted “how well our visions merged with each other and how complementary our product lines are.” Clive Wu, Aprio’s co-founder and CEO, added that Blaze DFM is well respected among Aprio’s customers and foundry partners.

The company makes much of being characterized as a pure-play eDFM company and intends to be the dominant player in that space. Jacobsson noted that the DFM market has been highly fragmented — with some companies being absorbed or acquired. “We believe that there is room for one eDFM company that stands by itself… and we are going to be that company [with the merger],” said Jacobsson.

Analysts and other journalists, however, contested the claims being made by the merging companies during a conference call on 2/21. Some particularly noted the work of companies such as Clear Shape Technologies and Invarium. Jacobsson maintained that Blaze DFM brought out the first commercial eDFM solution in May 2006.

Pressed to parse out the new company’s eDFM solution in contrast with other DFM players, Jacobsson said that they believed their solutions will still bring some 20-odd percentage points of yield improvements in addition to those obtained when working higher up the food chain (i.e., design stack) — as other companies are doing.

The merged company will have a little more than 40 people — about 30 people in Blaze’s Sunnyvale office and about 10 in the field (in Taiwan, Japan, and a development center in San Diego). “We plan to triple our sales this year,” said Jacobsson, which means “we will also need a formidable sales force.” He added that all the people currently working at Aprio are coming over in the merger. Kahng and Aprio cofounder and CEO Clive Wu will share the new organization’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 href=”″>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 href=”,_IBM_open_up_about_the_Common_Platform_Alliance/?dcmp=WaferNEWS”>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 href=”
CHN&ARTICLE_ID=255299″>also has ties to Taiwan’s TSMC.


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