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Still dreaming of a plug-and-play IP

Posted: 13 Feb 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IP plug play? DesignCon Intellectual property?

Complex indeed
Another problem with IP selection is the breadth in complexity of what is considered IP. On one end of the spectrum, there exist relatively simple standards-based IP blocks that have been certified complaint with a particular standard by a standards body, providing customers with some assurance they will work as intended. On the other end of the spectrum are highly complex processor cores that require extensive effort to implement.

Gary Delp, a distinguished engineer at LSI Corp. and a technical director at the Spirit Consortium, an IP standards advocate, noted the breadth of IP complexity. "It is absolutely true that it is fairly straightforward to integrate pieces of IP if they are fairly simple," he said. For more complex pieces, though, he suggested that the process is more involvedand riskier.

"If the IP is complex and hasn't seen silicon before, you are at risk, but that's always true," Delp said.

Traidman pointed to several tools available to help customers select IP, including the Quality IP Metricdeveloped by the VSI Alliance and now available through IEEEas well as the GSA's IPecosystem tool suite, which includes a hard IP quality risk assessment tool., now owned by Cadence, enables IP users to evaluate IP within a design at the planning stage prior to purchasing it, he noted.

Traidman served as president and CEO of for three-and-a-half years prior to its acquisition by Cadence last March. During DesignCon the site was the recipient of a DesignVision Award presented by the International Engineering Consortium and received an endorsement from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which will allow process-compatible third party IP cores to be aggregated there.

Delp applauded mechanisms that he said "inject wisdom into the system," such as those mentioned by Traidman and his company's own efforts around IP.

Several DesignCon attendees talked of the lack of an adequate feedback loop in the IP vendor-customer relationship.

In a separate panel discussion, Dinesh Ramanathan, executive VP of Cypress Semiconductor Corp.'s Data Communications division, said IP customers who discover bugs within a piece of soft IP have absolutely no incentive to report the bugs back to the IP vendor. Instead, he said, they most often fix the problems they find and move on with integrating it into a design, realizing that the bugs may cause headaches for potential competitors.

But others downplayed the potential danger of this scenario. While it's possible such a scenario could arise, they said, more often than not it's not in the best interests of either party to withhold relevant information.

Rajendiran said his company would take it up with the IP supplier, particularly the major suppliers with whom eSilicon works most closely, for the sake of relationship building if nothing else.

"There is a benefit to be had, sometimes tangible and sometimes not tangible," Rajendiran said. "This is how you build your relationship."

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