Acquisitions Build Mentor IP Clout
San Jose, Calif.--Forging further into what it sees as a $100
million market this year, Mentor Graphics enlarged its presence in
the intellectual property (IP) industry last week with three
relatively small acquisitions and the formation of a new business
Mentor launched its offering of synthesizable, system-level
building blocks, or soft cores, by forming the Inventra IP business
unit and product lines. Inventra merges all of the company's
organizations now delivering cores and other reusable components,
including 3Soft and the IC technology centers, with three
newly-acquired companies; CAE Technology, Inc., dQdt and Systolic
The acquisitions of the privately-held companies were
cash-for-stock transactions. The terms for the acquisitions were
undisclosed, but the deals were said to be valued at between $2
million and $2.5 million each. All three companies have five to 10
employees, made from $1 million to $2 million in revenue over the
last year and were profitable.
CAE Technology is a privately-held, San Jose, Calif.-based
developer of reusable soft cores for the peripheral controller
market. DQdt (Dimensions in Quick Design Turnaround)--to remain in
its Carlsbad, Calif., location--supplies parameterized soft cores
and design services for digital signal processing (DSP) functions.
London-based Systolic Technology develops reusable soft cores for
the telecommunications market.
All three new businesses will report to Mark-Eric Jones, director
of Inventra soft cores, as part of independently managed Inventra.
Systolic FISP products were marketed in North America by Object
Oriented Hardware. Under the terms of the Mentor agreement, Object
Oriented Hardware will no longer sell FISP products.
"Mentor is focusing on insourcing and making designers stronger,"
said Walden (Wally) C. Rhines, Mentor's president and CEO. "Inventra
is an enhanced design environment for deep-submicron design and
targets design reuse and the single-chip systems of the future. EDA
needs to fill the void left by the capability of 0.25- and
0.18-micron designs with reusable IP from a variety of sources."
With IP accounting for more than 8 percent of Mentor's revenues,
Mr. Rhines sees it as one of the fastest-growing segments of his
company's business and said he felt customers are willing to pay for
Inventra will be part of Mentor's Silicon Systems division and
will be managed independently of Mentor's design tools business to
ensure all IP developed is compatible with industry-standard tools.
It reports to Glenn House, VP/GM, Silicon Systems division, who
characterized Inventra as a distributor, broker and creator of IP.
"Mentor has been a tool company," he said. "Now the triangle is
complete, including technologies, tools and IP. We are buying these
new companies to fulfill our customers' needs with a practical,
single-company approach, but Mentor already employs a spectrum of
ownership, distribution and partnership in its business
Inventra will give design teams working in the wireless
communications, computer, telecommunications, networking and
multimedia markets access to a catalog of predefined, pre-verified
soft cores, as well as physical library products and design
products. The products will be sold by Mentor's worldwide sales
force and the soft cores product line is available for a one-time
license fee with no silicon royalties.
"Mentor Graphics is taking responsibility for bringing the
10-million-gate ASIC with embedded software to the mainstream," said
Dr. Rhines. "This is the essence of the integrated systems design
strategy. With the creation of the Inventra IP business unit, we are
laying the foundations for design reuse to create these ASICs."
Soft cores now available from Mentor include a variety of
functions for the design of electronic consumer and communications
products, including such processors as the 8051 and 320C50;
peripheral interface controllers, such as PCI and USB; DSP functions
such as filters, fast fourier and discrete cosine transforms (FFT
and DCT), Viterbi and Reed-Solomon decoders, and audio codecs; and
communications controllers, such as ISDN, HDLC and linked list
"Translating a system-level DSP design to an ASIC design is
typically a cumbersome and error-prone process," said Tom Cesear,
co-founder of dQdt. "Our products bridge the gap between systems
engineers and DSP ASIC designers by providing both system simulation
models and parameterized architectures, allowing both teams to work
with a design view best suited for their environment."
The new business unit will also develop custom soft cores for
specific applications. All of the predefined, pre-verified soft
cores are delivered via a package, including documentation,
synthesizable models, synthesis scripts and a testbench.
Many of the cores feature a system-level testbench, functional
simulation model, test vectors and reference designs in silicon.
Inventra also provides physical library products, including compiled
memories, datapaths, standard cell libraries, I/Os and
analog/mixed-signal cells, with a design product line offering the
cores and process portable layouts required for complex IP, such as
Analog Devices' ADSP-2100 Family Core and Sarnoff's SuiteDecoding
Inventra plans to address the integrated system components
marketplace with software libraries, board libraries, hard cores and
physical libraries. Outbound marketing reports to Brian Barrera.
Three product lines include soft cores, reporting to Mr. Jones, and
physical libraries and design, both under Tom Griffin.
"Wally has a better idea of the EDA vendors' position in the IP
market than anyone else," said Dataquest principal analyst Gary
Smith. "Mentor is the only company thinking about software cores, a
real important differentiator, and it has no competition in this