I contacted the Cadence office as a PhD student and also a faculty member to inquiry their price for an academic license. After 8 emails back and forth I noticed that they are not willing to answer the simple question of how much we have to pay to get access to Cadence Virtuoso software.

It surprised me a lot and I felt upset and stopped the email communication. I actually fully understand now why people tend to use pirated software instead of paying for it.

I sincerely tried to pay for a license and could not even get a quoted price!

Can someone explain here why do we have such secretive behavior? There is no price list on their website and even when you contact them they don't reveal it. Very strange indeed.


To make this a better question and not a rant, I should tailor my question:

What other options are available for IC Layout design when Cadence is not an option?

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @BrianDrummond It is a sickness of the market though, that this needs to take so much effort. Any other segment working in a similar way it takes all of 1 e-mail to be in contact with the right person. Some times not even that. 8 mails is 7 too many to send before being put into contact with the right person directly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Asmyldof
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 9:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because software pricing practices has nothing to do with electronics design. \$\endgroup\$
    – pipe
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 9:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @pipe - I'd agree if it was about the pricing practices. But (non) availability of tools does have an impact on design. \$\endgroup\$
    – user16324
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 10:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @pipe Sorry, but I'm with Brian. The question is legitimate. The OP didn't ask for a purchasing advice, but had a real problem with industrial practices, which affects EE design (note that this site is not only about circuit design, but EE design, which is a vaster topic). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 10:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ So what kind of answer is expected? An official answer from Cadence? This is a question about how a single company distributes their product, and can not be answered by anyone except Cadence. This is simply a frustrated rant, it's not a question. If this had been "Where can I buy an LM393, I can not find prices anywhere" it would have been closed in 5 seconds. \$\endgroup\$
    – pipe
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 10:10

1 Answer 1


Cadence does not make money with educational licenses, however they support universities because they often cooperate with the industry and train future engineers.

For commercial use license costs depend on the number of licenses you buy and of course can be negotiated. For academic use the license costs are very small and are more like a "handling fee". I live in Europe and the prices for academic software can be found here. This should give you a rough idea what prices to expect.

These academic prices are very low compared to commercial prices, therefore you need to make sure that they are only used for educational purposes. For example you have to keep track of the license usage, the people who have access to the software and keep record of this information for at least five years!

The "University Software Program" is available in many locations, details can be found here

So, keep in mind that you are more an academic partner than a customer (unless you are willing to shell out a few 100k for a single seat license package) and give it another try.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Virtuoso Advanced Node Option: Free of license charge! I wonder why Cadence itself did not let me know this. I highly appreciate the link that you posted. I will instantly inform my professor to apply for these services. thank you! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 11:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ You will need the IC Package as well. So not completely free of charge. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mario
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 11:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sadly I can't apply, my country (Thailand) is not listed as a supported country as mention here: europractice.stfc.ac.uk/membership/eligible_countries.html \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you also check the other programs (second link in my reply)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mario
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 19:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think that you really need Calibre, you could use Assura instead, although most layout designers prefer Calibre. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mario
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 12:27

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