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Synopsis acquires University of Glasgow spin-out

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Gold Standard Simulations (GSS), a spin-out company launched nearly six years ago by the University of Glasgow, has been acquired by the California-based Synopsys – a company that specialises in electronic design automation (EDA) and semiconductor IP.

GSS was set up in 2010, with £720,000 seed funding and ongoing commercialisation support from Scottish Enterprise, to commercialise more than 20 years of research in modelling and simulation of advanced transistors and circuits for semiconductor microchips. Scottish Enterprise is Scotland's main economic development agency and a non-departmental public body of the Scottish government.

In a statement, Synopsys said it had completed the acquisition of GSS, a ‘leading provider of TCAD and EDA simulation solutions for design technology co-optimisation (DTCO) of advanced process nodes’.

The Synopsys statement reads: ‘The acquisition of GSS supports the Synopsys TCAD strategy to offer a comprehensive solution to reduce development time and cost for advanced node development by enabling the evaluation and selection of process, device and materials options in the pre-wafer research phases of development.’ The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

GSS was created by Professor Asen Asenov, James Watt Chair in Electrical Engineering in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Glasgow, with support from the University and Scottish Enterprise. Professor Asenov is one of the world’s leading device modelling experts and the leader of the Glasgow Device Modelling Group (DMG).

Professor Asenov commented that the acquisition would help GSS bring its vision to the next level ‘by the best and the brightest player on the EDA arena amplifying its impact on the semiconductor industry.’

‘The GSS team, which will be incorporated into the Synopsys technology CAD (TCAD) group and will remain in Scotland, this provides jobs for University of Glasgow PhD students and former Post-Doctoral Research Associates (PDRAs) – all of whom are former members of the DMG.’

GSS specialises in predictive physical simulation of performance and atomic scale transistor variability, and statistical ‘compact’ models for circuit simulation. The Glasgow spin-out has developed an automated tool chain to enable design technology co-optimisation (DTCO) with the aim of reducing reduce time and cost when developing next-generation semiconductor process technologies and their corresponding circuits and systems.

Reducing development costs has become increasingly important due to the broadening of technology options, increasing complexity of transistor and circuit operations and the need for technology tuning for some commercial applications.

David Smith, director of technology and engineering at Scottish Enterprise, said: ‘Having provided seed funding and commercialisation support from the beginning, we are proud to have been part of GSS’s impressive journey from concept to delivery of its world-renowned and pioneering TCAD technology. This transaction highlights both the talent of the company’s founders and the capabilities which Scotland can offer the global semiconductor industry.’