July 09, 2007
Mentor Graphics – A New Strategy for Semiconductor Intellectual Property
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What firms might sell this software?
Customers used to purchase software from companies like Jungo (USBWare and WinDriver) or third party USB vendors. A lot of customers that use Linux would take the free Linux stacks and try to modify them. A lot of customers would try to develop software in house for the semiconductor IP they purchased.
When we recently rolled out the IP subsystem announcement industry analyst Christian Heidarson from Gartner observed “Ensuring that software works correctly with an interface controller is a critical, manually intensive part of the design process, yet adds no differentiation to the final product. By obtaining both software and hardware IP from the same company, designers can dedicate resources to more valuable tasks.”
The first IP subsystem is in the USB space that is because of the complexity of USB software and the size of the USB market which is very large. It was a good place for us to start. This hardware-software solution is fully integrated, verified, certified and combined with Mentor’s world class support to make implementing USB subsystems much easier for our customers.
Our USB controller supports OTG. It also supports embedded host functions. It can be a device. It is a full featured USB high speed controller.
What is OTB?
On-the-Go! OTG is a kind of standard within the standard that allows products that can act as a USB host or a USB device. For instance, if you have a camera and you connect that camera to a PC, the camera might be a device. The PC is the host and is uploading pictures through the USB port. Some cameras, if they are OTG, can be connected directly to a printer. In that case the camera is acting as a host and the printer is acting like the device. The OTG controller allows the camera to act as a device sometimes and sometimes as a host.
We currently have two versions of the USB subsystem. One version is for customers who require a very small footprint. That is the MicroSW. It is not tied to any OS or processor. It takes up very little memory space. It is good for small hand held devices that don’t have a lot of memory. The Nucleus USB SW is full featured USB software that has many different class drivers for mass storage, for human interface, printer devices, still images and PictBridge. It has all the different class drivers that customers require to develop a very full featured device. Currently the MicroSW version is OS agnostic. We are currently working on an OS agnostic version of the Nucleus USB SW as
What does MUSBMHDRC stand for?
Bill: These are product names that I hate. Whoever chose that product name doesn’t like spaces. The way you decode the thing is Mentor USB high speed dual link controller. Need an acronym handbook. One of the things I wanted to do over a year and half ago, when I took over the division was to try and change the product names. When we started to looking into what it would take to do that, forget the cost, just the resources to get them all changed, it was a huge amount. So I said forget it.
Rick: I tried the same thing and engineering almost cut my head off.
Rick: Our current IP portfolio consists of USB, Ethernet, storage IP, peripheral IP and in the next couple of months we will be announcing our PCI-Express IP. We currently have the subsystem for USB but our embedded software division also has middleware products in the Ethernet and storage space for SATA. Throughout the year we will be announcing product in the Ethernet space and storage space. We are also currently developing PCI-Express middleware and will be announcing PCI-Express subsystem. So this is not just a USB centric strategy, it is across our entire IP portfolio. This is the way we will be delivering IP going forward; offering our customers complete subsystems for USB,
Ethernet, SATA and PCI-Express. These products are available standalone. We feel the subsystem approach will provide a lot of value to our customers.
Our embedded software portfolio consists of three main areas. One is a development tools area. There is the Nucleus OS and all the middleware products. You see networking products, filesystem which is SATA middleware. You have USB middleware. We will also be adding PCI-Express middleware. Those all run under the Nucleus operating system. We will have versions of these middleware products that will run under any OS not just Nucleus. The embedded software
portfolio includes development tools. So we have compilers, debuggers and so forth. We have also the Inflexion Application Platform which creates user interfaces for various area specific vertical markets.
Another advantage of our approach is that complete hardware/software subsystems go through certification together. When we certify our controller, we are also running our embedded software and our PHY. When our customers go for USB compliance and certification with USB interface, they know that all of the components of their USB subsystem have already gone through compliance together. They are very confident they won’t have any issues getting their certification and begin logo certified. The major subsystem IP market we focus on is the SoC and ASIC market for semiconductor IP. We also provide a lot of IP to OEMs. Our IP is available for FPGA. They are all listed at the major
Our first USB subsystem targets the rapidly growing embedded consumer market where a lot of emphasis is placed on a small memory footprint. That’s our MicroSW, low cost and low power. In these types of applications, most users want device embedded host or OTC functionality. Our subsystem supports all of those. That’s our current market focus.
In conclusion we supply the highest quality standards based semiconductor IP available. Now we have complete connectivity software subsystem. Mentor is the only company that has strength in both semiconductor IP and embedded software IP. It gives us a unique capability to provide fully integrated fully verified and certified subsystems to help customers accelerate product development.
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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.
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