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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?

Closer partnership
Ramanathan! like others!also advocated closer cooperation between IP suppliers and customers through licensing arrangements that share risks and rewards. IP vendors must stand by the quality of their IP and be willing to offer financial incentives to their customers!in the form of reduced licensing fees!to find bugs in their IP design. Another idea is for the IP vendors to work very closely with their customers until the chip in which the IP resides is getting incorporated tapes out, enabling them to sort out all problems in the IP in the context in which it is being used by a customer, Ramanathan said.

Traidman said IP vendors by their nature work with their partners on a design, though the degree of involvement varies vendor-by-vendor. Despite perception, what Traidman called the "Costco model" in which a customer buys a piece of IP and then goes off on its own to implement it without further contact with the supplier, is basically non-existent in IP, he said.

"It never goes that way," Traidman said. "It really goes more to the context of partnering."

A company like eSilicon, a fabless ASIC vendor that bills itself as a "value chain producer," becomes like a sales channel for third-party IP vendors because it evaluates, buys and implements IP on behalf of multiple customers, Rajendiran said. In that sense the company derives an advantage from closer relationships with the IP suppliers on its preferred vendor list, because frequent engagements breed familiarity from an engineering, legal and business standpoint, he said. The company often implements IP into a design with virtually no involvement from the supplier because it has used the same block several times, he said.

Traidman and Rajendiran both mentioned Virage Logic Corp. as one IP vendor who engages with customers deeply and effectively on designs.

Brani Buric, Virage's executive VP for marketing and sales, said the company's business model!similar to that of other IP suppliers!motivates the company to help customers succeed because, although it charges an upfront fee for licensing, Virage derives a significant portion of its revenue from royalties, which pay off when a design gets into volume production.

"We have a process in place, a team in place, that works with partners regardless of size and experience, from concept to volume productions," Buric said.

Buric held up as a model a deal signed last month between Virage and AMD. The agreement grants Virage the rights to license, modify and sell standards-based advanced interface IP that AMD designs for use in its graphics processor product line. Through this arrangement, Virage has left the upfront engineering to AMD and will handle the business aspects of making sales and negotiating contracts, he said.

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