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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In line with that you can read the customer success story by Johnson Controls that highlights a very similar story where they bring out the challenges they were facing with operational efficiency and their desire overall to specifically reduce product costs overall and cycle design time and their decision as a result of that challenge to acquire Expedition Enterprise and deploy it across their multi-site global environment to meet those expectation.

The press release is an announcement of a flow. Are there any new products?

Yes! There are a number of new products within this flow. Let me rephrase your question. No, this is not a repackaging exercise. What we have done with this release, the Expedition Enterprise 2005, is make a significant number of enhancements to existing products within the flow as well as enhancements to integration between these products. Yes, we have introduced a few new products into the flow, specifically in the area of library design data management, some new flow management capabilities within data management that enable engineers to very quickly request new parts from their librarian department and communicate efficiently that way. We've added a new product within the signal
integrity space to do pre-layout signal integrity analysis. We've added a lot of new automation capabilities. We've added capabilities and new products within the DFM space for verification of fabrication rules.

Our communication to our customers on this release to tell them what is new in the flow is a document that continues to grow and is currently over sixty pages long. This is a very significant release.

Is Expedition Enterprise targeted at existing customers or a set of new customers?

Both! We see our customer base clearly impacted by this global trend of acquisitions. Any design team no matter how small at some point is probably either going to go public or be acquired. Our existing customers on a daily basis are facing these acquisitions which turn them into a global enterprise where perhaps they weren't before and give them a new set of challenges and opportunities to face for that. In that context we are addressing our existing customers as they face new design challenges but of course we are clearly targeting as prospects companies using competitive flows.

Who do you see as the principal competitors to this new flow?

For years we have been competing with Cadence and their Allegro flow. We view them as our principal competitor. To a lesser extent Zuken has been providing tools with their CR5000 product. They have of course started in the Japanese market and have been trying to extend that but they have not had a whole lot of success within North America. They are trying to make inroads in Europe. Those would be the two companies I would highlight.

What would differentiate Mentor's offering from offerings from those two firms?

We would differentiate in two aspects. Within the flow and within the point tools in the flow we have significant strengths within signal integrity in the context of quality of results and ability to model much more significant elements of an interconnect than our competitors can do. Other point tools such as layout and our capability to do concurrent team design far out stripe what our competition has. Our router is still doing very well against the competition. It's the integration of manufacturing prep with layout. While it may sound like a rather simple concept, it is rather unique. So that's a differentiator as well. Most people have a third party tool at the back end.
FPGA/PCB integration is another point tool where we have significant strength. Those are the point tool capabilities. That's one side of it. The second is integration within the flow and also with the corporate enterprise. Our capability with design data management is much more significant than what either Zuken or Cadence has provided. Our ability to tie into corporate enterprise systems is more significant.

Obviously many people have been using your point tools. Are there any firms other than Johnson Controls that has alpha or beta tested Expedition Enterprise?

We have some other customers that are evaluating it. But because we are now just creating this release of the product, we do not have a number of additional customers out there using it. But you are right; we have customers using critical elements of this flow. So the flow overall has been tested over time. But the new products and the integration with the enterprise do not have a customer base associated with that at this time just because it is a brand new release.

There is often a debate whether to adopt a single vendor's flow versus a so called best-of-breed approach. Would you comment on this topic?

That's interesting. It seems to go in phases. Some generations measured in five to ten years believe that it is best to have a solution from one vendor. You are referring to the days when Daisy, Mentor and Valid all produced their own hardware and systems and didn't collaborate at all. Then we entered a phase where everybody was gluing to everybody else. I won't use the word integrate because it was more interface. In other words we were trying to get best of breed tools from multiple vendors. I think we have come back to a time where integration is winning out as a value. I can't say that it wins out over any best of breed tool completely but the value of integration has risen not only as the complexity of design has risen but also a desire to manage constraints throughout the process. Our constraint editing environment is not the sort of thing you can plug into multiple disparate tools from multiple vendors. You just can't get that level of integration. We can leverage that common capability. Can you plug some of our tools into other tools? Certainly! The DxDesigner technology at the front end can be plugged into multiple flows including Zuken's flows and Cadence's flows. Our signal integrity tools can be plugged into those tools and that is done frequently. At the front end DxDesigner represents 30% of the Cadence's Allegro front end. It's used quite
frequently there. But the level of integration that's capable between two vendors, particularly in terms of part management and constraint editing is somewhat limited. Now on the other hand we recognize the heterogeneous environments may exist within a customer that is using multiple systems. So elements such as design data management in our DMS (Data Management System) technology can also manage data from Zuken, from Cadence and from other vendors. Our customers can take advantage of our capabilities for multiple flows not just our own.

If a customer adopts the Expedition Enterprise, how does he implement it? Does he purchase n copies of every module? What are you ultimately delivering?

We think about a customer in the context of the enterprise. They are no longer in a space where they are trying to buy a complete bundled package that can do every aspect of the design. It is not the same as what we offer with our PADS product line which is targeted more at the individual engineer where for a single price and for a single bundle (we have multiple bundles) you can get schematic design, layout, some signal integrity analysis and manufacturing output capabilities, all in one bundle. In the context of an enterprise you have a different concept of team where you may have 10 engineers, 3 to 4 layout designers, a couple of signal integrity experts, a couple of librarians and a couple of automation experts that are all going to work together on this system. When we work with a large corporation, we basically look at their desired use model. We can consult with them and propose what we think is best and then collaborate with them to effectively build a system that they can use. Part of the licensing in the context of a large corporation we are more and more utilizing the terms with remix licensing which basically says a customer buys software as much as they can use for a period for a set price. After that period, say six to twelve months, they can remix different tools for that same price. It allows them to reassess their process and
their needs and make sure they are not wasting money on tools they are not using. It also allows them to adopt new tools and technologies as we release them. So they are not stuck on a fixed release.

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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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