Mentor Graphics Case Study

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MAN 4741 CASE STUDY: Role of Vision at Mentor GraphicsRole of Vision at Mentor GraphicsHow would you describe the way vision was used at Mentor Graphics?Did it strengthen or weaken the company? How? WhyOf the reasons covered in this chapter relating to why visions may fail, which ones are applicable to Mentor Graphics?Discuss issues of vision content, context, and process in how vision was introduced and changed atthe company. What emerges from this?Based on what happened in this company, what are the implications in terms of the three debates about vision discussed in this chapter (whether vision drives change or emerges during change, whether vision helps or hinders change, and whether vision is an attribute of heroic leaders or heroic organizations?Of the six change images outlined in Table 9.1, which images of vision can be applied to this case study? What lessons emerge from this?How would you describe the way vision was used at Mentor Graphics?Did it strengthen or weaken the company? How? WhyOf the reasons covered in this chapter relating to why visions may fail, which ones are applicable to Mentor Graphics?Discuss issues of vision content, context, and process in how vision was introduced and changed atthe company. What emerges from this?Based on what happened in this company, what are the implications in terms of the three debates about vision discussed in this chapter (whether vision drives change or emerges during change, whether vision helps or hinders change, and whether vision is an attribute of heroic leaders or heroic organizations?Of the six change images outlined in Table 9.1, which images of vision can be applied to this case study? What lessons emerge from this?MAN 4741 CASE STUDY: Role of Vision at Mentor Graphics

Business challenge story

Time-to-market is a hugely important metric in the semiconductor and microelectronics industries. Chip design and fabrication techniques improve constantly and at a rapid pace, which means that today’s market-leading microprocessors will typically be out-performed by less costly alternatives within a matter of weeks. The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) means that next-gen processors are popping up not only in smartphones and tablets but also webcams, domestic and industrial sensors, drones, connected cars—even web-enabled refrigerators and washing machines! To succeed in this cutthroat environment, where the marketable lifespan of a new product may be measured in just a handful of months, companies must seize these limited windows of opportunity by delivering high-quality products to their customers on time.

Vijay Chobisa, Product Marketing Manager at Mentor Graphics (Mentor), comments: “Companies always want to complete the verification cycle faster even when their designs become more complex. They also have an urgent need to test more thoroughly at the design stage, because fixing problems in the fabrication stage after tape-out is too late and potentially disastrous in terms of the additional cost. In many cases, a significant bug found during the fabrication stage may mean that the entire production run is simply discarded. And some areas of the market for embedded processors are moving so fast that the sales opportunity for that particular iteration of the product may already be missed.”

By finding and resolving bugs prior to the fabrication stage, microprocessor manufacturers can potentially save millions of dollars and cut time-to-market, enabling them to capture fleeting sales opportunities. However, the testing and verification phases are becoming ever more challenging because each new generation of microprocessor is more complex and has smaller, more numerous components and internal connections.

Shakeel Jeeawoody, Strategic Alliance Product Marketing, Mentor, comments: “Chip designers have long used high-performance computing grids to simulate hardware designs in software and enable them to be tested before they are physically fabricated. Our Veloce emulation platform goes a step further, providing flexible hardware that can emulate up to a two-billion gate design, such as those you might find in a GPU. Our customers achieve up to 10,000 times the performance of a conventional simulation, helping them verify their new designs faster and more thoroughly.”

Naturally, the sophisticated and specialized Veloce® emulation platform is an extremely high-value resource, and Mentor’s customers must try to keep it fully utilized at all times to get the best return on their investment. Put bluntly, every second that the Veloce technology is not actively running a verification scenario represents both a drag on time-to-market and a waste of dollars invested in the solution. As chip architectures have grown in complexity, and as testing teams have spread across multiple countries and time zones, it has become ever harder to ensure the optimal sharing of limited central computing resources that potentially leads to more idle periods and the corresponding wasted investment.

Says Vijay Chobisa, “For many of our larger customers, the verification process involves multiple groups of users in different geographies competing for time on the emulator. Getting the balance right has become increasingly tricky, and as a result resources could be under-utilized. Our Veloce verification engine is an extremely sophisticated and powerful solution, and naturally represents a substantial dollar investment. Our customers are therefore always looking to maximize the useful work they can do on the emulator.”

Using workload management software can significantly boost the effective utilization of verification resources. Internally, Mentor uses IBM Spectrum LSF for automated job scheduling on its compute resources. Shakeel Jeeawoody explains: “In our customers’ experience, having a scheduler like IBM Spectrum LSF with the right policies in place can improve utilization of compute assets by as much as 25 percent.”

To enable more fine-grained control over policies and better utilization, Mentor wanted to provide richer and more direct communication between Spectrum LSF and its Veloce Enterprise Server (ES) App. By giving Spectrum LSF a direct view of the emulator hardware and the jobs running on it, Mentor could enable better and faster mapping of jobs to resources. The ultimate goal was to enable customers to execute complex test and verification processes more rapidly and thoroughly, so that they could get to market faster with higher-quality chips. As well as addressing the urgent need to beat competitors in the extremely fast-moving consumer and embedded electronics spaces, this would also ensure that customers could squeeze the maximum return out of every dollar invested in the Veloce technology.
 

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