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Mentor Graphics Unveils Android and Embedded Linux Strategy with Acquisition of Embedded Alley

By John Donovan

DESIGN AUTOMATION CONFERENCE (DAC), San Francisco, Calif., July 30, 2009 – At a press conference this afternoon Mentor Graphics Corporation unveiled its Android and Linux strategy, including the acquisition of Embedded Alley Solutions, Inc. (San Jose, CA).

According to Mentor’s CEO Wally Rhines, Android, Linux, and Nucleus products and services will provide all the tools, runtime components and expertise required for customers to get to production with innovative products. This ecosystem for Android- and Linux-based devices is supported by leading semiconductor partners, including ARM, Freescale, Marvell, MIPS, RMI, and Texas Instruments (TI). In separate presentations, executives from ARM, Marvell, MIPS and RMI all affirmed their support for the combined platform.

mentor android

In separate announcements today, Mentor Graphics revealed support for the ARM Mali graphics processing unit family, Freescale Power Architecture processors and Marvell Sheeva MV78200 Dual-core Embedded Processors. Embedded Alley was the first to market commercial Android tools and services in May 2009, for the RMI Au1250 SoC and the MIPS architecture.

One of the themes of the event was “Android Beyond Mobile,” looking at a host of embedded devices—consumer, industrial, medical and automotive—that could benefit from being based on the Android platform other than mobile phones, for which it was designed. This expanded focus makes sense for Mentor, since (1) it avoids the lethal competition in the handset space, and (2) it plays to the strength of its embedded RTOS Nucleus.

“It’s the Software, Stupid!”

All the presenters agreed with Rhines’ statement, “Chip design is becoming more of a software problem than a hardware problem.” Rhines pointed out—and the chip vendors confirmed—that semiconductor firms are hiring more software engineers than hardware designers. Achieving not only software but systems expertise is critical, since OEMs are increasingly demanding complete ‘prototype designs’, right down to the Gerber files. This has been a challenge for semiconductor firms and now even for EDA companies.

Embedded Alley CEO Pete Popov lauded Mentor Graphics as “a leader in the embedded systems space,” one that other EDA companies have until recently been giving short shrift. Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, pointed out that “the economic downturn is helping Linux,” as more and more companies are looking to cut their software costs without sacrificing functionality or security.

Embedded Alley gained a lead in Android solutions by investing early and building on their deep Linux/open source experience and technologies. As pioneers in the embedded Linux community, the Embedded Alley team has been instrumental in defining product offerings, shaping business models and building market strategies for embedded systems. Their unique approach to commercial open source products avoided “boxed” Linux distributions, and gave developers more flexibility and immediate access to the latest open source innovations.

For more information on the Mentor Graphics Android/Linux development ecosystem for multi-OS and multicore development, visit the website at

Mentor Graphics Corporation
Wilsonville, OR
(503) 685-7000

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