July 25, 2011
Back to the Future
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Russ Henke - Contributing Editor

by Russ Henke - Contributing Editor
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... and on to Manufacturing

The next major step was to extend support beyond the design of the PCB and into manufacturing.  With the 2010 $50 million acquisition of Valor Computerized Systems (and Frontline, a 50% joint venture with Orbotech), Mentor became the first (and so far only) supplier to be able to support a Design-through-Manufacturing process.  

Important pieces of these products include the ability during the PCB design process to do extensive design for manufacturability (DFM) checks. Such checks ensure that the PCB once designed can in fact be manufactured (both bare board fabrication and assembly). 

Other Valor products actually optimize the manufacturing line setup and then monitor it during operation for efficiency and reduced down time. 

Again, the goal is to cut time to target volume production as well as to optimize the profits of the manufacturer and reduce product costs for the OEM.


So, as Mentor added needed capabilities to its portfolio, Mentor’s market share started to take off again, surpassing all other competitors and finally reaching the 50% mark in 2010.  See bar chart below (Source:  EDA Consortium, March 2011):

To which the writer, overjoyed but hiding it, meekly and obligingly asked, “So, this all seems really great for Mentor, but what does a 50% market share and increasing revenues mean to Mentor’s customers?” 

The Mentor spokesperson patiently answered, “Basically, it means that as Mentor increases revenues and market share, Mentor will be able to continue and even increase its high level of investment in PCB systems design. Mentor understands that getting a more competitive electronic product to market faster and at reduced cost, requires more than a great PCB place-and-route capability.  Product development requires the efficient collaboration of many disciplines, extensive virtual prototyping, a full design through manufacturing supporting flow, and functionality to address the most advanced IC and PCB fabrication technologies.” 

The spokesperson went even further, “Mentor offers what may be the most advanced PCB Design through Manufacturing system today and as investment continues, Mentor should be able to provide its customers with whatever it takes to meet their most aggressive business goals and beat their competition.”

The “PCB Daddy from the 90’s” is very proud of his offspring!


[1] Footnote:

Besides Mentor Graphics, the other two members of today’s EDA Big 3 are (1) Synopsys (founded by Aart de Geus among others in 1986; Dr. de Geus is Synopsys CEO in 2011):   

 Aart de Geus

And (2) Cadence (formed initially by the merger of ECAD and SDA Systems in 1988). The CEO of Cadence from 1988 to 1997 was Joe Costello. Others who held that position thereafter for relatively long periods included Ray Bingham (1999 – 2004) and Mike Fister (2004 – 2008).

Lip-Bu Tan has been CEO of Cadence since January 2009:

Lip-Bu Tan

Dr. Walden Rhines has been CEO of Mentor Graphics since late 1993:

Walden Rhines

[2] Footnote:  

The following is from a MENTOR GRAPHICS company report at the time:

On October 31, 1999, the Company (MGC) purchased certain assets and all liabilities of Veribest for cash, a warrant, and assumed net liabilities with a total value of $19.1 million. The purchase accounting allocations resulted in a charge for in-process R&D of $5.2 million, capitalized goodwill of $7.5 million, and capitalized technology of $6.4 million.

[3] Footnote:

Wednesday April 24, 2002 12:19 am Eastern Time
Mentor Graphics Corporation Agrees to Acquire Innoveda, Inc.
WILSONVILLE, Ore. -(Dow Jones)- Mentor Graphics Corp. (MENT) signed a definitive agreement to acquire Innoveda Inc. (INOV) for $3.95 a share cash, or about $160 million.


Special thanks for assistance with this article goes out to John (Ike) Isaac, Director of Market Development of the Mentor Graphics SDD Longmont CO, and friend extraordinaire of 21 years

John provided the illustration below that represents technologies contained in Mentor’s industry-unique Design-through-Manufacturing PCB systems design solution:

Mentor’s Design-through Manufacturing Technologies Wheel


Appendix I

The PCB Division of 1990 through 1993

For several months in late 1989 the writer had been repeatedly contacted by recruiter Dan Mirich of Korn Ferry. Mr. Mirich had been retained by MGC’s Beaverton, OR-based Gerry Langeler and Marv Wolfson in the autumn of 1989 to identify a series of candidates for a new General Manager of the young MGC PCB Division.

Not yet nine years old, Mentor Graphics itself remained in the hands of the original founders Bruggere, Langeler, and Moffenbeier, all three of whom were determined and aggressive, with a strong vision for Mentor’s future.

In late 1989, however, the writer was briefly pre-occupied with the sale of his Bay Area-based MCAD/MCAE company to Morgan Stanley, and he resisted Dan Mirich’s entreaties until that sale was successfully completed. (The recruiting process adopted by MGC for this new PCB GM position was unusual, in the sense that the key people at the PCB Division were allowed to choose their new general manager from a series of interviews held with multiple candidates presented by Dan Mirich. This approach had the twin benefit of the GM candidates learning directly the issues he or she would face on day one).

Finally, the writer agreed to meet with the employee interview team of the MGC PCB Division on Zanker Road in mid-December 1989. An offer was extended between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and yours truly was on the job in early January 1990 in time to attend the annual Mentor Graphics Worldwide Sales Kickoff in Oregon.

Dr. Henke (1989)

Thus began the four consecutive years of PCB Division progress briefly described in paragraph two of the Prologue . During those years, the PCB Division succeeded in achieving the worldwide leading market share in both 1992 and 1993.

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