Aart de Geus co-founded Synopsys in 1986. The US-based , $1.76-billion company is the world leader in the area known as electronic design automation, providing software tools for designing electronic systems such as printed circuit boards and integrated circuits. With Bangalore emerging as a global hub of semiconductor design, Synopsys has had a rapidly growing business here. On a recent visit to Bangalore, de Geus, chairman and co-CEO of Synopsys, spoke to TOI.
Is the power of semiconductor technology growing at the same pace as before?
After 35-40 years of using transistors that are called planar, or flat, our field is going to a new type of transistor that is vertical. These are more effective from the power consumption point of view. In our field the constant quest is to deliver more capabilities at less power. This new generation of transistors improves the performance-power ratio. So that now opens another decade of technical advancement. It will allow every field, be it biology or health or automotive or energy, to incorporate more smarts in what they do. We will see artificial intelligence gradually come into this field and add more value. As electronics impacts fundamental fields like agriculture , the impact will be massive.
So what we have seen so far in terms of technological development through semiconductors is nothing compared to what will come?
Yes, and we cannot predict, right? In school, my professor of communications proved mathematically that phones would never transmit video! (laughs) He missed something, right? He missed the concept of compression, that if you have a lot of data, you don't have to send all the data. In a movie or video, only little things change (in a scene) and the rest is static. Therefore you don't have to transmit all the data, you only transmit what changes. Evolution often happens in going around the problem in some unexpected ways. And that is why it is difficult to predict, and predicting exponential impact is almost impossible.
How do you see your India presence?
Our India presence has evolved dramatically in the last decade. We today have 1,400 people here out of our total of 8,500, the highest outside the US. What is more relevant is that, over the years, the experience of the management teams have grown substantially. Initially , our site here did mostly quality checking of products; now we have advanced R&D in simulation and testing here, and we have direct support for a number of customers from here that is quite advanced. The fact that in the semiconductor domain today we have the largest conference (Synopsys Users Group Conference) in India is quite remarkable.
What do you make of India as a market?
India as a market for us has been mostly dominated by the large international companies because they have very large design teams here. Many companies have been very successful with Indian teams in working on sophisticated chips. It's an exciting time. Challenging time as well. The economy around us is suddenly under some degree of pressure. That is everywhere, not only in India. It will be interesting to see how the difficulty impacts the evolution of technology .