It’s still early days in the integration of Mentor Graphics and Tanner EDA, but management expect tools from the acquisition to help with a drive into IoT applications and systems that need to go beyond standard IC lithography.
Greg Lebsack, Tanner EDA president, said during an interview during DAC 2015 in San Francisco: “Strategies are still being developed. But in the very beginning there is a real focused effort on keeping Tanner separate and then figure out how we augment that in the future. There are a lot of complementary products and some overlap between Mentor and Tanner.”
Of Tanner’s portfolio of tools, Lebsack said: “We have a legacy in analog and mixed-signal, and in MEMS and photonics. When we look at the mixed-signal design space, we see IoT as being a growth area. We see customers growing and having designs in that area.”
Massimo Sivilotti, Tanner chief scientist and now chief technologist in Mentor’s electronic design systems deep-submicron division, added: “We have been very strong in sensors, MEMS, analog, and power management. Now, through Mentor, we have complementary products that allow us to expand into RF as well. And even further up the food-chain there are the Mentor system-development tools, which will help with IoT applications. It’s not just a chip but a board and its environment. Recently, we’ve been doing more with healthcare and medical applications.”
Pointing to microfluidics and biochip applications in healthcare, Sivilotti emphasised the need to use tools that allow a much wider range of shapes to be expressed. “You need a flexible tool that captures design intent. We have good interface to mechanical CAD, so people can do the photolithography they need to define those shapes.”
In terms of the need for non-conventional photolithographically defined shapes, photonics has much in common with medical fluid-control devices. At Mentor’s U2U conference in April, the company’s chairman and CEO Wally Rhines mentioned the future importance of photonics in electronics design. Independently, companies such as Altera have signalled that they intend to use 3D integration to support photonic links between their chips and others within data-center and telecom systems.
Sivilotti said: “Photonics is definitely out there. It’s not short term but the interest is very significant. We’ve always had a reputation for tools that adapt to non-traditional areas and Mentor already had some activity in that area.
“With photonics, the geometry structures are unique. The traditional IC CAD tools are not able to play well in that space. Then you need a lot of analysis tools because you have sensitivities to temperature, physical, alignment, manufacturability that reach up into the packaging domain and further into the board and system domain. You can’t ignore the packaging for very long. Because the alignments in interconnection are critical to the system.
“So it becomes a codesign problem. It requires a lot of technical expertise from multiple disciplines. Mentor is very strong in board, signal integrity, finite-element modeling for thermal design. So we are having a lot of conversations about that.”