Ethernet IP Enables Wintegra to Launch a Powerful New Line of Next-Generation WinPath Devices
Wintegra develops a highly integrated, access packet network processors for its WinPath product line utilizing the Mentor Graphics 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet MAC IP. With the implementation of Mentor's IP core, Wintegra improves time to market and allows the design team to focus on designing key differentiated products of the WinPath 787 chip.
“We integrated Mentor IP to make our design state of the art for the time frame in which it was introduced… It’s a very complete solution.”
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Wintegra™ Inc., of Austin, Texas, was founded in January 2000. As a fabless semiconductor company, Wintegra enables communications companies to build next-generation access infrastructure networks.
Consisting of many former Motorola employees, Wintegra has had a successful history in the communications processor business. In fact today, Wintegra has partnerships with nine of the top ten leading global communications companies.
In 2000, the company discovered a niche within the market to develop a processor with high-end data rate performance. Today, the Wintegra WinPath™ access packet processor offers best-in-class aspects of network processors, communication processors, communication peripherals, and ASICs, offering an entirely new approach to protocol handling.
The Critical Need for Standards- Based, Silicon-Proven IP
Before incorporating intellectual property (IP) into a chip design, the classic argument develops: Is it more cost effective to build the block inhouse or purchase from a reputable, third party vendor? A key issue is compatibility. Just how well known is the particular block of IP? How complete is the deliverable set? Is the documentation sufficient?
Because Wintegra had previous experience with Mentor's 10/100 Mbps Ethernet Media Access Controller (MAC) a couple of years ago — with complete commercial success — Wintegra knew Mentor would supply a thorough set of documentation and excellent support. (Mentor purchased its Ethernet technology from Alcatel in 2003, a purchase that included the original Packet Engine Ethernet IP core product line.) It also helped that Mentor is the world leader in the Ethernet IP market today with a 71% market share.*
"We used Mentor IP back in the beginning when Mentor drove the Ethernet standard. There was no reason not to go with Mentor this time either," said Cam Witt, Director of Product Marketing at Wintegra. "The ease of integration and Mentor's thorough documentation made a believer out of us."
Taking a Successful Relationship to the Next Level
Wintegra serves an increasingly crowded, yet sophisticated market with room for only a few major players. The company competes against much larger companies with far greater resources, so Wintegra must be prudent with every move. The pressure to be the first to market is intense.
"There's not enough market space to hold all of us, and whoever gets there earliest may be the winner in the long term, and we have a strong showing so far," Witt explained.
But a new challenge loomed on the horizon. Wintegra was faced with building a new line of advanced, highly integrated WinPath network processors supporting bandwidths that required Mentor's ultra fast 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet MAC IP. Because of Mentor's previous success, Wintegra was confident of using Mentor this time around. "The fact that Mentor IP worked so well on our first chip, gave us a lot of faith for the second build — even though this was a much more sophisticated piece of silicon," said Yoram Yeivin, VP of Engineering at Wintegra.
Right Cost. Right Performance. Flawless Integration. Mentor Delivers on all Fronts.
Wintegra had to launch its new WinPath 787 device with minimal risk and little chance of a redesign. Mentor's PE-MCXMAC IP core met those qualifications. To be cost-effective, an IP core needs to fit into the design with little or no modifications. As Cam pointed out "We have engineers who could've designed it — but the fact that Mentor IP is validated and sets the standard for compatibility told us we'd be able to drop it right in."
The right cost can also mean manhours saved by purchasing IP as opposed to the design time required to build the core internally. Cam estimated that Mentor saved Wintegra at least three months in design time which easily added up to thousands of dollars in reduced design costs. "That translates to quicker to market on top of substantial savings, which is huge in this market," declared Witt.
In addition, first-pass silicon success is critical to a company like Wintegra. "If you can buy something that's a known quantity — the performance is right and so is the cost — then you win every time," Witt continued. "No question we'd prefer to build our own cores, but the downside is time-tomarket. When we incorporated Mentor IP into our design, our engineers were able to spend more time differentiating our final product."
For Wintegra that meant more time concentrating on its exclusive data path processing technology. "It's very sophisticated," added Ricardo Berger, VP and CTO of Wintegra. "Our data path processing engines coupled with Wintegra's software is revolutionary. We put our design expertise into that and let Mentor build the things that are standards based."
Integration of Mentor IP was easy because of the complete package Mentor offered. Included with the IP block were design for test (DFT) advisors, scan insertions, and test patterns. "With Mentor IP, it's more than a set of RTL code. It's all the stuff that comes with it. Mentor offers a very complete solution that we simply dropped in. It worked on the first try," said Witt.
Additional Benefits Discovered
The fact that Wintegra quickly integrated Mentor's Ethernet MAC into its sophisticated WinPath chip testifies to the validity of Mentor's IP.With the IP core in place, the design team was free to concentrate on the differentiating characteristics of the WinPath chip. Wintegra noticed a few additional benefits as well. First, the successful integration of Mentor IP meant that the WinPath chip provides Wintegra's customers lower overall system cost since external silicon is reduced.
"We win because it's a better device. Our customers win because it's a smaller footprint —there's no 'extra' chip, which means the overall system cost and power goes down as well," said Yeivin.
Another benefit was the many different flavors of product Wintegra was able to create. The WinPath chip can be used from cellular base stations and DSL, to all types of sophisticated network routers.
"Once we had our initial device, we were able to create multiple part numbers using Mentor's one piece of IP," said Witt.
Wintegra was extremely pleased with the implementation process and overall success of the Mentor 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet MAC. The WinPath 787 was released in 2004 and many of its variations are hitting the market even today.
* EDAC Market Statistics Service, Q4 2004.
“The Mentor 10/100/1000 block worked as it was designed to do. I’m sure we’ll be back to look at more of Mentor’s blocks.”