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Mentor: EDA to find solid opportunity in automotive

Posted: 16 Apr 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:EDA? automotive? hybrid electric vehicle? design tool?

As EDA continues its quest for opportunities to generate more revenues from outside the IC industry, Mentor Graphics Corp. integrated electrical systems division general manager Martin O'Brien highlighted automotive and said the trend is likely to continue with the advent of hybrid and electric vehicles.

A brief glimpse in the rear view mirror points to last year's Design Automation Conference (DAC). In a keynote speech, Walden Rhines, Mentor's chairman and CEO, then outlined that there are many other industries to tap with EDA tools: "The military, aerospace, automotive, medical areas are all behind in using automated design tools that we take for granted in designing chips."

With the recent promotion of Serge Leef to the position of VP of new ventures, Mentor materialized its intention to expand the company into markets adjacent to EDA.

Leef said his "primary goal will be to take technologies we have and use them to address problems outside of EDA in markets like automotive, medical device, etc." For that, he said he would take a systems approach to solving their design challenges. "This will likely include both acquisitions and internal development."

An acquisition indeed occurred: The Virtual Garage software suite from Freescale Semiconductor Inc. to strengthen Mentor's positioning in automotive.

In a discussion with EDA DesignLine, O'Brien echoed Rhines' comment made during his DAC keynote address and said that automotive still represents a significant opportunity for EDA.

Talking in the name of Mentor, he declared: "The opportunity embraced by Mentor includes areas such as embedded software management, data network design, electrical systems integration and complexity optimization. Growth in these domains is driven by consumer demand for new, often optional, electronic features (e.g. collision avoidance, night vision), which raise the number of signals flowing around the vehicle and the number of manufactured vehicle configurations." O'Brien said the trend is likely to continue because hybrid and electric vehicles naturally have higher electrical and electronic content than traditional equivalents.

At the broader level, he continued, the automotive sector represents a subset of a larger EDA opportunity in platform level design.

He stated: "Many large products, such as aircraft and battleships, can be thought of as massive assemblies of integrated electronic systems. Although it's very challenging to build full virtual representations of such complex assemblies, Mentor is now showing that proven EDA techniques such as model driven development are indeed applicable."

This tendency towards automotive EDA is not only true to Mentor. Since the beginning of the year, Synopsys Inc. has also undertaken major initiatives.

First on the list is on the acquisition of Vast Technology to extend its virtual prototyping solutions into the automotive and consumer space.

Shortly after, Synopsys announced the acquisition of CoWare Inc. to expand its portfolio of system-level design and verification products used in wireless, consumer and automotive design.

Also of interest is Synopsys' participation in a three-year European collaborative research project, dubbed

Therminator, to support the strong position Europe has built up in automotive systems and factory automation where the semiconductor devices are often required to work under harsh conditions with temperatures in excess of 100C.

The project is led by STMicroelectronics, Infineon Technologies and NXP.

- Anne-Francoise Pele
EE Times

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