Thought Leadership

Not making chips – an agreement to facilitate early access to CPU architectures

By Colin Walls

As a humble embedded software specialist, working for a company that is widely known in the EDA business [notwithstanding a 20+ year history of supporting embedded software], I think that I may be forgiven for having a slight identity crisis. When someone outside of the business asks me what Mentor Graphics does, I mutter vague things about electronic design. I was naturally intrigued when I heard about the recently announced agreement with ARM®. I wondered: does this mean we are going to start making chips? …

No, it does not mean that. To the best of my knowledge Mentor Graphics is not going into the chip making business any time soon.

Its real meaning makes much more sense to me. In EDA generally, but also very strongly in embedded software tools and IP, a comprehensive knowledge of CPU architectures is vital to deliver solutions to engineers using the latest IP to create chips and systems using those architectures. This is fairly obvious, so, for many years, maintaining close relations with IP and semiconductor vendors has been very important. A key goal is to be able to deliver support for new architectures in a very timely fashion.

This agreement, which provides early access to a selection of IP, will yield numerous benefits to customers across the markets in which Mentor Graphics operates. A chip designer selecting a new ARM core, for example, can be certain that his Mentor verification, implementation and test tools have already been optimized to support that IP. He can focus on pushing the performance and functionality in his ARM-based ASIC or FPGA design. From the embedded software perspective, support for ARM CPUs and other IP has always been a priority, but, henceforth, early delivery of support for new features and functionality is assured.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at