I recently evaluated the Tanner EDA tools on my Windows Vista laptop to get a better feel for their capabilities.

My expectation was that I could simply download the software and start evaluating it however it was more complex than that. I filled out a request form then received a pleasant phone call from a Tanner person that qualified me. Several days later I received a package in the mail with my software and dongle.

Installation worked as documented and I started working through the tutorials. I didn’t like the idea of a hardware dongle and prefer the FlexLM license instead. I remember in the early days that Viewlogic used hardware dongles as well. I can understand how dongles cut down on illegal copies.

Schematic capture (S-Edit) and custom IC layout tools (L-Edit) from Tanner have been around for some 20 years now, so I didn’t find any glaring bugs to report. The user interface was familiar to anyone with Windows experience. I could even change color schemes to make it look more like Mentor or Cadence tools.

SPICE simulation (T-Spice) is well integrated with schematics and viewing. I’d love to see a FastSPICE tool or support for multi-core to speed up my circuit simulations.

Tanner folks phoned me to answer questions about features, comparisons and product roadmap.

The ideal user for Tanner tools is someone working on smaller custom IC or MEMs designs. Areas for improvement would be support of multi-user, team-based design with check-in and check-out capabilities. Cadence users would be attracted to a Tanner version that used OpenAccess.

Calibre and Dracula users can import rule decks for LVS and DRC runs (HiPer Verify).

From a marketing view there’s been another welcome change in recent press releases from Tanner, they are now quoting customers and showing how customers are being successful. Previous press releases focused soley and technical features and not customer benefits.

Tanner EDA appears to be a very solid, yet conservative kind of EDA provider that has found a niche by offering custom IC tools to budget-conscious users that often integrate with Cadence and Mentor tools.