Like most EDA companies, Mentor doesn't do a lot of chip design. After all they sell software. But emulation is the one area that actually uses the tools. Since one of the big challenges in EDA is getting hold of good test data for real chips, the group is very popular in other parts of Mentor since the proprietary nature of the data is less of an issue inside the same company.
The other thing that they announced is VirtuaLAB. I assumed that this was already announced since Wally Rhines talked about it in his keynote at the Mentor Users' Group U2U a week or two ago and I briefly covered it here. Historically, people have used an in-circuit-emulation (ICE) lab with real physical peripherals. These suffer from some big problems:
- expensive to replicate for large numbers of users
- time consuming to reconfigure (which must be done manually)
- challenging to debug
- doesn't fit well with the security access procedures for datacenters (Jim Kenney, who gave the presentation, said he had to get special security clearance to go and get a picture inside the datacenter since even the IT guys are not allowed in)
- is never where you want it (you are in India, the peripherals are in Texas)
VirtuaLAB is a software implementation of peripherals. They run on Linux and are hardware-accurate. They can easily be shared, after all it's just Linux. They can be reconfigured by software. You don't need to go into the datacenter on a regular basis to reboot/reconfigure anything. Of course the purpose of all this is so that you can develop/debug and test device drivers and so on using the models. For example, here is a model of a USB 3.0 Mass Storage Peripheral (aka Thumb drive).
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