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Mentor Graphics and Kawasaki Microelectronics Team Up to Make Communications IP Cores a Cornerstone of Custom ASIC Development

Kawasaki Microelectronics turns to the Mentor Graphics® Intellectual Property division for reliable, proven, and preverified standards-based IP cores. The Mentor Graphics PE-MACMII 10/100 Ethernet Media Access Controller (MAC) IP core provides industry-leading performance and reliability, enabling Kawasaki to reduce costs and speed development of their custom ICs. Kawasaki's customers know that an ASIC incorporating this Ethernet core will deliver the performance they require and expect.

We are very happy with the performance of the Mentor MAC core. Our experience with Mentor in terms of both product quality and support has led us to rely on them for quality IP core products.”

Sunil Baliga, Vice President of Marketing, Kawasaki Microelectronics

Kawasaki is a $300 million-dollar company and growing fast. Ninetyfive percent of the company's business is in Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) development. But Kawasaki is not a traditional ASIC supplier — trying to be all things to all ASIC customers. Instead, Kawasaki has adopted a companydefining ethic that focuses on their core competencies and relies on thirdparty vendors of digital intellectual property (IP) to supply standardized components. In this way, they can offer a varied and flexible suite of solutions to their customers.

Kawasaki believes this business model gives them a distinct advantage — greater agility and cost-effectiveness than their all-in-one competitors. "Our core competency is in offering customized ASIC solutions to our customers.We focus on finding the right combination of proven functionality and cost effectiveness that most directly meets the needs of our customer's proprietary design specifications and project budget constraints," said Sunil Baliga, Kawasaki's Vice President of Marketing. In addition to Kawasaki's custom work, they offer a selection of high-quality digital cores from an extensive library of third party IP.

Mentor Graphics' Intellectual Property Division is a world-leader in communication standards-based IP cores. Mentor's Inventra™ IP cores enable faster and more reliable timeto- market through high quality, excellent support and proven technology for today's highly integrated systemon- chip (SoC) designs.

Recognizing Strengths

Using third party IP just makes sense. In addition to offsetting milliondollar development costs for a logic function that may be used only once, standards-based third-party IP cores bring tested and proven solutions into the resolution of custom ASIC design challenges.When the vendor is a firmly established major player with strong market exposure and proven success, such as Mentor Graphics, the effect is to enhance the perceived quality and overall reliability of resources across the entire design.

Mentor and Kawasaki have enjoyed a long and successful partnership focusing on the use of Mentor's Ethernet products. For example, Kawasaki has licensed the PE-MACMII 10/100 MAC IP core since 1997 in developing customized solutions for customers requiring Ethernet functionality, including networking and PC connectivity applications. Some of these designs have used multiple instantiations of the block. For others, Kawasaki has modified the block, aided by Mentor, in order to meet design requirements.


Kawasaki has experienced success using the PE-MACMII core and has developed expertise using the Mentor Graphics Ethernet product. Currently they are using the PE-MACMII in a customer design that requires on-chip interoperability with a Mysticom 10/100 Ethernet PHY, a combination typical of settop cable receivers. The Mentor MAC and Mysticom PHY cores are proven to work together, establishing confidence and reliability. Says Kawasaki's Baliga, "This combination gives our customer the assurance that an ASIC from us that incorporates this Ethernet functionality will deliver the performance they require and expect."

Growing Demand for IP

Originally driven to seek the Mentor PE-MACMII core because of its proven functionality, Kawasaki's experience with it has been highly successful across several design implementations. In a recent set-top box project, Kawasaki's customer specifically requested that it be used, as they had prior experience with the PE-MACMII and knew it was compatible with the Mysticom PHY. Completely satisfied with the performance of the PE-MACMII, Kawasaki now hopes to steer all of their customers requiring 10/100 Mbps MAC functionality to use the Mentor IP core. "We are very happy with the performance of the Mentor MAC core," said Kawasaki's Baliga. "Our experience with Mentor in terms of both product quality and support has led us to rely on them for quality IP core products."

Kawasaki sees a growing demand for ASICs with Ethernet functionality in the consumer and industrial markets of communications, entertainment, and security. Because Ethernet networks are moving quickly toward gigabit speeds,Kawasaki plans to use Mentor's gigabit MAC IP core (PEMCXMAC) as soon as a gigabit PHY is in place. The proliferation of consumer and industrial products that require full Ethernet communications functionality on a single chip is a major driver of custom ASIC development.

System-level integration on a single chip of functionality that formerly required separate chips or devices, reduces device cost and footprint. The incorporation of MAC and PHY Ethernet functionality in a single chip is an example of how these benefits express themselves in improved devices. For example, today the core of a simple 24-port network-switching device might consist of a single ASIC chip, whereas several chips would have been required for the same functionality just a few years ago.With the advances made possible by condensing multiple discrete functions within integrated ASIC designs, devices such as cable receivers, multimedia equipment, and security cameras that incorporate built-in networking capability create broad new opportunities in the marketplace.

Building an IP Portfolio

Pivotal to delivering custom ASICs that are functionally advanced, cost effective, and on schedule is the availability of a large portfolio of thirdparty IP cores. Through their IP Partners program, Kawasaki negotiates license agreements with trusted IP vendors, so that customers can pick and choose the IP appropriate to their design requirements.With licensing already in place and with proven IP cores delivering standard functionality, the design cycle is dramatically shortened and costs are substantially reduced, making it much easier for customers to realize a custom ASIC design.

Through such an arrangement, Mentor Graphics supplies Kawasaki with proven, tested, standards-based IP cores of superior quality. Mentor Graphics Inventra IP products have wide exposure in the marketplace and Inventra Ethernet products are recognized as industry-standard IP communication cores. For example, the Mentor Graphics PE-MACMII 10/100 MAC IP core is found in over 80 percent of the 10/100 ports the world over.

Once the Mentor licensing agreement was in place, Kawasaki could offer the PE-MACMII IP core to customers without requiring time consuming and costly, individually negotiated licensing agreements. In addition to freeing up design resources, this serves to enhance the quality of custom ASIC designs while accelerating the manufacturing cycle and shortening time-to-market. The Mentor licensing arrangement also means that Kawasaki can increase the affordability of their IP portfolio offering by leveraging their IP costs over multiple projects. Another benefit is that Kawasaki can quickly and easily add other Inventra IP cores to their portfolio.

Partnership with a well-known and firmly established IP vendor like Mentor Graphics greatly increases the breadth of choices that Kawasaki can present to customers. "The more extensive our IP portfolio, the better off we are from a competitive standpoint," says Baliga. "By focusing on our core competencies and capitalizing on the core competencies of trusted IP vendor partners, such as Mentor Graphics, we gain great latitude in offering customized proposals that meet our customers' needs. Our extensive portfolio of proven IP cores provides a distinct advantage as we compete with other ASIC developers in the marketplace."

Quality Partnerships

In the end, the ready availability of standardized, tested, and pre-verified third-party digital IP that can be recommended and used with full confidence is essential to the success of Kawasaki's ASIC development business. Stable and reliable sources of standardized IP cores are critical to meeting financial objectives and time-to-market goals. Mentor Graphics Inventra IP products — exemplified by the industry-standard and market-dominating PEMACMII IP core, coupled with Mentor's award winning customer service and support — form the foundation for a mutually beneficial business partnership that addresses the critical needs of ASIC designers.

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