Canadian startup CEMWorks looks to play crucial role in semiconductors, 5G, and AI with its simulation tool

Jack Wu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

The Winnipeg, Canada-based CEMWorks is looking to bring its electromagnetic (EM) simulation solution to more companies to help develop new technologies, contributing to the "precision and efficiency" of the design, manufacturing, and application process for electronics.

In an interview with DIGITIMES Asia, CEMWorks president and founder Jonatan Aronsson and Business Development Manager Gabriel Lafond-Wise stated that the company is well-positioned for several key tech sectors, including semiconductors, next-gen communication systems like 5G and 6G, connected vehicles, smart cities, and space applications. Their goal, as a design simulation tool, is to become the industry standard and be "a go-to software product for engineers involved with electronics and connectivity design."

The company is currently bootstrapped and capable of generating growth through reinvested profits as its solutions have already received strong commercial traction. CEMWorks is also supported by the Canadian government with funding for various R&D projects.

The government also provides access to business development initiatives, such as the partnership with the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT)'s CTA program for in-market promotion and connections. Through this program, CEMWorks hopes to "develop a greater presence" in Taiwan and seek a partner to help distribute its solution to local industry players.

An unfulfilled need in the market

CEMWorks was founded in 2011 by Jonatan Aronsson, in response to what he observed as a "lack of comprehensive simulation tools for the electronics industry." For the first five years, the company was focused on other things such as consulting. They began to delve into simulation tools in 2015/2016 and after several years of advanced R&D, finally started working on a fully self-contained solution in the past few years. It currently has 17 full-time employees.

Regarding the company's business opportunities, Gabriel mentioned that the company's simulation tool is an advanced form of software that helps develop advanced microelectronics and system components. The advancement in technology has brought about an increased demand for advanced components. "For us, the fast pace of change in the technology sector has been more of an opportunity creator than a real disrupter..." he stated.

These advanced components are often incredibly small and delicate, meaning there's almost no room for error. This is where simulation tools like CEMWorks' solution can come into play. Gabriel highlighted that the company is especially well positioned for projects related to the communication sector such as 5G/6G and antennas. Adjacent sectors like connected vehicles and smart cities have also been a part of the company's portfolio.

When asked what its tool does better than competing tools on the market, Gabriel pointed out that other EDA tools are versatile and well-adapted for general purposes. However, this typically resulted in them being much slower to run simulations and require more computational resources. In contrast, CEMWorks' approach is much better suited for specific use cases, such as ones where more complex simulations are required or ones that need to be done cheaper and more efficiently.

In particular, the tool can adapt well to simulations that involve multiple devices or interactions with some distance between them. With other existing solutions, they often have to split the interactions into smaller pieces and process them separately. When the processes get too complicated, they need to introduce approximations, which aren't always accurate. CEMWorks' solution is capable of processing the simulation as one, even when devices and interactions aren't physically right next to each other.

Contributing to the AI trend

The other upcoming trend that CEMWorks believes they can contribute to is the AI sector. For one, AI is fundamentally about AI chips, and CEMWorks' simulation tool can greatly help companies in a sector where component designs are getting increasingly complicated. "CEMWorks basically produces an advanced digital twin, where you create this 'twin' of the physical reality." Jonatan pointed out. It allows more thorough testing before a chip is produced physically.

Besides acting as a tool for the design of AI components. CEMWorks believes it can also contribute to creating unique data for AI to train on. AI by itself is currently unable to do these kinds of physics simulations. Therefore, CEMWorks' simulations can produce data based on different scenarios and setups to generate datasets suitable for the AI to train on. Moreover, CEMWorks' solution is very efficient and thus can create a lot of data and do so more quickly compared to other solutions.

Future plans

Regarding what they want to achieve through the CTA program, Gabriel mentioned that he spent two years in Taiwan to complete his GMBA with the National Taiwan University (NTU). Therefore, he has a local network and is well aware of Taiwan's relevance in the global semiconductor industry, an area to which CEMWorks' business is closely connected.

As a simulation tool provider for electronic components, CEMWorks sees the collaboration with CTOT as a gateway to establish connections in Taiwan and the greater Eastern Asia region. Their goal is to become an industry standard and to do so, they "need to be present on computers across… their target industries." Thus, they're actively looking for partners that can help match their solutions with local companies, either a distributor or someone who can offer a bundle with their tool.

As for the company's future plans, Jonatan pointed out that they've spent the past five to ten years doing "deep R&D" to build up this simulation tool. Now, they are trying to bring their solution to companies to help develop new technologies. Gabriel added by bringing up some emerging markets, they are looking to expand on top of their current involvement with semiconductors. These include metamaterials, reconfigurable intelligent surfaces, and other communication systems and connectivity-related sectors like satellite communications and space-based applications.

Photo: Business Development Manager Gabriel Lafond-Wise. Credit: CEMWorks

Photo: Business Development Manager Gabriel Lafond-Wise.
Credit: CEMWorks