January 09, 2006
Mentor's Expedition Enterprise Flow
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Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
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This is our view of an enterprise design flow.
This is devoid of any product names, just because it indicates what a full flow would be in an enterprise environment. You start off with a core PCB design environment that has design definition, layout and manufacturing output but to really be considered an enterprise environment you layer in automation and scripting, you layer in a common constraint editing environment and underneath that entire system you have a common library and design data management platform that that is all built on.

Where is Mentor today?

We've got the number one position in the PCB market. We are still investing heavily in R&D to support these flows. We really on PCB, on the integration between PCB and FPGA, on design data management across the flow as well as harness design and how that is integrated into the system.

We are leveraging certain of our key technology investments. Our front end design system - DxDesigner, Expedition PCB and FabLink XE - provides a simple flow for PCB design. If you looked at a small shop doing PBCs that is all they would need to get the job done. What we have done to evolve Expedition into an enterprise solution is to leverage some key investments over time in technology. For example DxDesigner coming from Innova, Expedition coming from the Veribest acquisition. You see the integration aspect of this with a common constraint system across the board, common automation, the I/O Designer fitting the profile for the FPGA/PCB integration piece and significant improvements
to system integration and also an underlying data management layer with DMS. All of these are components that we have used and leveraged to build up this Expedition Enterprise flow which is a new flow that we are targeting at the enterprise space.

What we have done over the course of the last couple of years is make significant strides in team design. We now have solutions where engineers can work simultaneously on a design which you can consider online live video perhaps, basically having two layout designers simultaneously editing a design. It allows a mixture of engineers whether you have multiple digital designers or analog and RF designers. Instead of having to wait for each other to create the design in series, they are allowed to work together in a heterogeneous environment. At the same time this capability also supports more traditional design partitioning for outsourcing. In the context of outsourcing, designers don't
tend to be working on the same network. So it is important to draw actual boundaries between the blocks so that you can outsource particular portions of the design. It supports that model as well if the design is done with outsourcing as opposed to multiple engineers within one company.

We also support WAN licensing. We typically don't get into licensing when we talk about solutions but it has been highlighted as a critical benefit in the context of global team collaboration. You can get engineers sharing the same licenses because they work in different time zones.

Design process automation allows companies to create common flows that they can then leverage to promote best practices across the organization.

In the area of IP Management we have two areas of focus. We have created a common constraint environment that is integrated across the design flow from definition, even design definition at what we call the sandbox stage, engineers can evaluate critical signals in a signal integrity and verification environment and determine constraints very early in the process and then apply these constraints as templates to the design. Those constraints can be utilized throughout the process within layout and final verification. There is no re-entry of rule sets. We have leveraged the technology that we have used for team design to facilitate concurrent constraint entry. Again you can have multiple
entries in the constraint data base at the same time editing away. We have also integrated in verification, actual simulation, so you can now define the simulation models and properties directly within the constraint editor. You do not have to go out and bounce around multiple tools to find whether the signals are meeting the constraints. From a reuse perspective certainly we support reuse capabilities with logical, physical blocks that are managed. We also control access to those blocks through a common library manager so that engineers can quickly find blocks they want to use for the next design.

As I mentioned earlier the design shop tends to view corporate as a black box. What we've provided with our design data management is not only management of the data within the design environment, work in process design data management, we have included things like sharing a file, vaulting files and controlling access to data. We have also provided the glue piece to the enterprise so that we can integrate into enterprise systems such as PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems and we can leverage supply chain data available through the enterprise such as data from content providers Valor and PartMiner, data that comes into us via XML for automated
part creation. That's really the extent we talk about in terms of data management. We are not competing with MatrixOne and PLM systems for instance. We are managing the desktop and the access between the desktop and the corporate enterprise.

In the area of integrated system design we support collaborative top down design, specifically the integration between the FPGS and PCB process. This is a significant need and challenge according to our customers that want to leverage the advances made in FPGA design particularly with high speed serial signals, multi-gigabit signals operating off of the FPGA so that FPGAs are no longer just prototype devices and to optimize the performance of those FPGAs as well as optimize the cost of the overall PCB and reduce design cycle time. We have currently integrated those two processes so that designs can get done much quicker.

The traditional flow goes from concept what-if stage through schematic definition, placement and route and to final verification. We don't think we will ever replace final verification because everybody is still going to want to do a golden verification process at the end of the process. What we've done is significant work to shift the verification process left in the process to the point where we are working at the concept state with constraint definition and verification and we are working at the layout stage with manufacturability issues so that a design doesn't have to wait until it gets to manufacturing for it to get that final golden verification that says hey, wait a minute, you
have a major verification problem and have to go back into design.

Government regulation compliance brings us back to the RoHS issues. In this context we have done significant work, first of all in terms of managing the compliance criteria within the part data base. Engineers can search for parts in their data base that meet the RoHS criteria. They can also look at an existing design and do a where-used search to determine where they have parts and designs within compliance and which ones aren't. The reason is that RoHS compliance not only affects new designs in creation but also designs already in production because if you plan on shipping after July of next year, you have to have it within compliance. Those requirements also impact the layout in
terms of fab constraints for solder masks, for placement changes, and for changes in via sizes. All of these can be managed within the system.

Because the materials have changed there is need to do a stack-up analysis again. We support that to determine what changes were made to the signal impedance and of course integration with the corporate PLM system is critical to get the data input from the supply chain in terms of which parts are available out there, which ones are compliant, and which ones aren't and also to produce that mass of final documentation required to convince actual governments that your product is within compliance.

Can you give me a simple summary?

You may have heard of Expedition in the past. Expedition started out as a point tool in the layout space. We have promoted Expedition as a flow in the context of the Expedition series targeted at the workgroup or midsized company for a number of years. We have re-branded that product line as Expedition Enterprise because we have added significant capabilities to address the challenges of product design within a global enterprise in terms of team collaboration, IP management, enterprise integration, integrated system design, regulation compliance. Overall we believe that Expedition Enterprise is capable to
enable design tams to leverage the power that is available within their enterprise and not just be limited by it so to speak but leverage that power to overall reduce their product cost and design cycle time.

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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.

Review Article
  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Amy'
    Dear Jack,
    I and many of my colleagues read the Mentor Design Flow interview published earlier this week in EDA Weekly. While I understand that the views in the interview are not your own opinion, there is one point in particular that I feel needs to be addressed simply to ensure that you understand what we know to be true.
    With regard to the statement by Mr. Weins, "Our capability with design data management is much more significant that what either Zuken or Cadence has provided. Our ability to tie into corporate enterprise systems is more significant.", it is worth noting that Zuken was the first EDA company to enter the PLM market in 1995 and has more than 100 customers using our enterprise-level EDA solution coupled directly with our own PLM solutions. Zuken has partnerships with companies such as SAP to provide seamless integrations with ERP and has numerous customers in production with such enterprise-level solutions - sharing data and work flows among engineering, manufacturing, and purchasing. We have a solid story backed by over a decade of success.

      One person found this review helpful.

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