ECE Technology Drives Purchase of Analog Software Vendor Neolinear


April 21, 2004

Carnegie Mellon University technology was a key component behind the recent sale of privately held Neolinear, Inc. to Cadence Design Systems, Inc. of San Jose, Calif.

Neolinear's software tools were developed to help end users design chips more efficiently and economically, according to Rob A. Rutenbar and Rick Carley, two of Neolinear's co-founders and both professors of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon.

"The Carnegie Mellon technology obtained through our acquisition of Neolinear will allow us to tightly integrate the front- and back-ends of the full custom-design process to dramatically improve yield and reduce time-to-volume for analog, mixed signal and RF chips," said Felicia James, vice president and general manager, Virtuoso® custom IC Division of Cadence®.

"We are extremely gratified that our technology will be used to the fullest potential in a variety of industry sectors," Rutenbar said. "The fact that the Neolinear team will remain in Pittsburgh will only increase our strong connections to Silicon Valley."

Although most circuits are digital, analog circuits are essential to connect chips to the physical world of electrical signals from sources ranging from wireless networks to DVD players. Software tools for digital chips arrived in the 1980s, but tools for analog designs lagged far behind because of the difficulty in designing these circuits.

"People said we were crazy when we started working on analog tools in the mid-1980s," Rutenbar said. "But today, the analog parts of a typical chip may occupy only 20 percent of the silicon area, but they can account for 80 percent of the cost to design a working chip," Rutenbar said.

Rutenbar and Carley founded Neolinear in 1996 to commercialize the ideas that resulted from 10 years of joint research at Carnegie Mellon. The company ultimately attracted $16 million in venture capital funding and today employs 75.

"We have always been very excited about Neolinear because of its two founders -- Rutenbar and Carley -- who own the thought space for this industry sector," said Sean Sebastian, a partner in the Pittsburgh-based Birchmere Ventures, which provided some of the initial funding for the Neolinear startup.

About Carnegie Mellon

Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with a distinctive mix of programs in computer science, robotics, engineering, the sciences, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities. More than 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions to solve real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

A small student-to-faculty ratio provides an opportunity for close interaction between students and professors. While technology is pervasive on its 110-acre campus, Carnegie Mellon is also distinctive among leading research universities because of conservatory-like programs in its College of Fine Arts. For more information, visit

Photo of Neolinear tools coursesy of Rob Rutenbar.

Related People:

Rick Carley

Rob Rutenbar