Mentor acquires Summit for ESL push
by Richard Goering
October 24th 2006

GREAT NECK, N.Y. — Seeking leadership in the emerging electronic system level (ESL) design tool market, Mentor Graphics Corp. has acquired Summit Design for an undisclosed sum. The purchase gives Mentor an ESL line-up that includes C language design, synthesis, verification, and code coverage.

Mentor already has a position in EDA through its Catapult C language synthesis tool and Seamless hardware/software co-verification environment. Summit's product line includes the Panaroma virtual prototyping solution, Vista integrated design environment (IDE), Visual Elite modeling environment, Virtual-CPU hardware/software verification tool, and HDL Score code coverage tool. Summit's System Architect tool includes performance modeling, architecture and hardware/software exploration and partitioning.

"We acquired Summit because we wanted to strengthen our solution in the ESL space," said Glenn Perry, general manager for Mentor Graphics' design creation business unit. Perry said that Mentor is strong in ESL synthesis and ESL verification, while Summit holds a key position in ESL design. The acquisition, he said, gives Mentor a strong lineup in all three areas.

"This is a big coup for Mentor," said Gary Smith, chief EDA analyst at Gartner Dataquest. He said that Summit has the leading SystemC based tool in the "architect's workbench" category, one of two "killer apps" that Smith mentioned in his 2006 Design Automation Conference presentation.

"We are very pleased to announce that Mentor has acquired all assets of Summit Design," reads a letter sent to Summit customers today (Oct. 24). "Mentor and Summit share similar views on the growing importance of solutions that bridge ESL design methodologies with existing RTL flows. The Summit technology and products complement Mentor's existing investments in ESL synthesis and verification."

The letter states that Summit tools will be integrated into Mentor's design flow and that going forward, Summit products will be sold and supported by Mentor.

A frequently asked questions" document from Mentor states that the company does not expect any changes to planned product releases for either Mentor or Summit, and that all existing Summit products will be supported through Mentor's worldwide support organization. It says that Summit's core engineering, marketing, sales and customer support staff will be hired by Mentor.

Specifically, the FAQ states that there is no transition plan to move users from Summit's Visual Elite to Mentor's HDL Designer Series, or vice versa. These products have some overlapping capabilities. Perry said these products serve different geographical markets and have differing functionality.

Both companies have hardware/software verification systems, which offers "an opportunity to provide customers with a migration path and consolidate technology," Perry said. But no one will be forced to stop using Summit's Virtual-CPU product, he said, and Mentor will support it as long as customers continue using it.

Summit was a pioneer of ESL — then called electronic system design automation (ESDA) — over a decade ago. The company went public in 1996 and was later purchased by Viewlogic to form Innoveda. Summit spun off in 2002 after Mentor acquired Innoveda for its pc-board design tools.

Former Summit CEO Guy Moshe, who joined Mentor Graphics two years ago, will lead the Summit operation within Mentor's design creation business unit. He will be executive director of Mentor's R&D center for advanced design solutions. Perry said the most recent Summit CEO, Emil Girczyc, has no current plans to join Mentor.

"The consolidation in the ESL space is inevitable," said Guri Stark, vice president of marketing for Synopsys Inc.'s solutions group. "It is hard for small niche companies to provide a complete solution and support customers worldwide. The acquisition of Summit by Mentor is part of this consolidation. We expect that the main EDA companies will provide solid ESL solutions in the next few years."