20-Year-Long Customer Zoran Still Very Happy with Helix

Zoran Corporation is a leading provider of digital solutions for the digital entertainment, mobile, and imaging markets. When the company needed a version control solution that was both powerful and easy to use, they turned to Perforce Helix. And when they needed a consolidated storage solution that was highly reliable and scalable, they turned to NetApp. Together, Perforce and NetApp are helping Zoran stay at the forefront of the highly competitive semiconductor industry.

How Has Helix Been of Benefit to Zoran?


Outstanding performance


Useful command-line tools


Multiplatform support

Helix has been an enormous benefit to our design process.

Overall we are very happy with the software."


Development Environment at a Glance

  • Company name: Zoran Corporation
  • Headquarters: Sunnyvale, California
  • Industry: Semiconductors for consumer electronics
  • Type of application: Development of semiconductors and related application software for digital consumer electronics, mobile and imaging markets
  • NetApp storage products used: 10 NetApp filers deployed worldwide
  • Perforce customer since: 1997
  • Client hardware: Windows, Sun Solaris and Linux clients
  • Server hardware: Sun Solaris, Intel x86 Linux servers
  • Number of users: 550 on Perforce, 800+ on NetApp
  • Number of development sites: 8 (large design centers in California, Massachusetts, Israel and China, with several smaller offices around the world)
  • Languages used: C/C++, Assembly, etc.
  • Types of files stored in Perforce: C/C++, some large binaries (generally 300 to 500MB each)
  • Number of files under source control: Approaching 500,000
  • Total storage: Approximately 40TB worldwide
  • Status: In production; software design on Perforce; VLSI and ASIC chip design migrating to Perforce; software and chip design files on NetApp


Customer Profile

With two decades of expertise in developing digital signal processing technologies, Zoran has pioneered high-performance digital audio, video, and imaging applications. Zoran-based DVD, digital camera, HDTV, and imaging products have received worldwide recognition for excellence and are now in millions of homes and offices around the globe. Zoran's proficiency in integration delivers major benefits for its prestigious OEM customers, including many household brand names. Zoran has achieved considerable success in a business environment characterized by relentless global competition, narrow product windows, and insatiable demand for more complex chip designs.


Versioning Requirements

Zoran found Helix to be a better solution than the one used previously, including ease of use, scalability, performance, command-line tools, and multiplatform support. Its change list paradigm, for example, makes it easier to track groups of changes.

"When we evaluated Helix, we were impressed with the product's excellent revision control, branching, and integration capabilities," said Nick Dor. "Previously, the reintegration of code lines back into the main lines was not very smooth. In addition, we found that Perforce was faster than other products — and much easier to use."

Ease of use was an important consideration for Zoran. With engineering teams based around the globe, Zoran often reassigns projects from one group to another to balance the overall development load. "We'll often hand off a project from one design center to another, so we didn't want anything that was too complicated," Dor added.

Technical support was also a key consideration. "Perforce's technical support has been top notch," said Dor. "We're always able to get answers to our questions on a timely basis. Training has also been excellent— and frequent enough for us to be able to take advantage of it."


Helix for Software and Hardware Design

"Our business essentially has two sides — VLSI and ASIC chip design and associated software application development," explained Dor. "Today, all of our design centers have standardized on Helix for software development management. We're now in the process of migrating our hardware engineering processes onto Helix as well."


Storage Requirements

From a storage perspective, Zoran had traditionally been relying on locally-attached UNIX, Novell, and Windows NT file servers. "That was fine in our early days when a typical chip design might require 100 or 200GB," said Dor. "However, today it's not uncommon for a typical chip design to require two to three TB of storage."

What Zoran needed was a consolidated, fully-scalable storage solution that would be able to easily and cost-effectively keep pace with the exponential growth inherent in the semiconductor development arena.

"Data reliability and availability were equally important storage considerations," added Dor. "With each step in the design process, the data becomes more and more mission critical. If lost or corrupted data causes us to miss a tape-out date, for example, the consequences in terms of costs and time to market would be enormous."


NetApp Unified Storage

The storage system chosen by Zoran was a NetApp unified storage solution. From the initial five NetApp filers storing 150GB of data at one of the design centers, the company's storage infrastructure has grown to include approximately 40TB of data stored on 10 high-performance NetApp filers deployed worldwide. Today, UNIX, Windows, and Linux clients all easily share the same copy of data, since NetApp's multiprotocol storage system offers native support for both NFS and CIFS.

"With NetApp, we've totally eliminated the need to run other software emulators, which has really simplified our engineering environment," said Dor.


Global Connectivity and Accessibility

Now, Zoran design centers worldwide enjoy the advantages and ease of use of Perforce Helix combined with the scalability and availability of a unified NetApp storage solution.

The Helix model is orchestrated by its central database application. This presents the same model to all Zoran design engineers, regardless of their physical location. Due to the vast geographic distances engineering teams must contend with in order to work collaboratively, Helix depots are spread around the world to minimize network bandwidth requirements as much as possible.


Helix Proxy Server Facilitates Distributed Development

For improved performance from the remote sites, Zoran has deployed Helix Proxy (P4P). Zoran engineers accessing Helix Core via P4P experience accelerated, transparent access to Helix functionality.

P4P reduces bandwidth consumption by caching file revisions sent from the central server. Subsequent user requests for files already cached are delivered directly from P4P, resulting in faster sync performance.

"We're pleased with the benefits of our Helix proxy servers," added Dor. "We've developed scripts to automatically refresh the proxy servers overnight, resulting in fresh, up-to-date files when engineers come to work in the morning, regardless of their location."


Increased Performance and Reduced Administration

Together Helix and NetApp have helped Zoran increase overall performance, boost engineering productivity, and reduce administrative overhead. These benefits have translated to lower costs and faster time-to-market for Zoran.

"NetApp has dramatically simplified the management of our storage," concluded Dor. "And Helix has been an enormous benefit to our design process. Overall we are very happy with the hardware, software and support provided by these two trusted technology partners."