RioMagic Lives

Many people think that the RioMagic package/chip co-design tool was killed after Magma acquired Rio Design Automation in 2007. I did too.  In fact it lives on, as Zuken RioMagic.

RioMagic is a package/chip co-design tool that fills an important niche. But it’s an unusual tool that needs to be properly explained. So in early 2007, Rio Design Automation called me in to write their training guide.  I loaded it with diagrams in order to support an international audience.  Given where the tool ended up, that turns out to have been a good choice.

At Rio Design Automation, I learned that it’s very easy to unknowingly design a chip that requires a complicated, expensive package. RioMagic understands the constraints on package design like power, flip-chip floorplanning and bonding angle.  RioMagic helps designers develop not only the package itself, but a package-friendly chip floorplan.

Soon after Magma Design Automation acquired Rio Design Automation, Magma had troubles of its own and had to make some hard choices.  RioMagic disappeared without explanation, and at least in Silicon Valley, was widely presumed dead.

Zuken was the Japanese distributor for RioMagic.  A week ago, I was at Zuken headquarters giving my OpenAccess Internationalization presentation (English here).  Zuken told me that RioMagic was one of their tools based on the OpenAccess database.  “RioMagic?” I said.  “I thought Magma killed it.”

In 2009 Zuken bought the RioMagic source code from Magma, and is selling and supporting it.  Zuken says that they are currently selling Zuken RioMagic only in Japan.  But at least it’s still alive.

I learned something from this situation.  If you buy a commercial product line like Zuken did from Magma, get the seller to commit to help customers find you and your new product.  All Magma had to do was maintain a page in their web site saying that RioMagic is now owned by Zuken.  A press release would have been nice.  I don’t think that would have been too much for Zuken to ask.


My only involvement with this affair was developing the RioMagic training guide for Rio Design Automation as indicated above.  I have no commercial connection to Zuken or Magma Design Automation.  Zuken reviewed this article for accuracy.

This article was originally published by John McGehee, Voom, Inc. under the CC BY 3.0 license.  Changes have been made.