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Virage Logics sets sight on subsystems

Posted: 19 Apr 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IP core? IC subsystem? processor? interface?

Semiconductor IP vendor Virage Logic may be "off the radar" among investors and media but its ideas and ambitions are as big as anybody's, CEO Alex Shubat told EE Times.

For starters, Virage Logic no longer sees itself as just a provider of a collection of semiconductor IP cores. Instead, it's betting on a future of becoming a supplier of "subsystems" that can be quickly, painlessly and deeply embedded in SoCs for its licensees.

Further, the company is said to be prepared to offer just about everything chip vendors need to succeed in their SoC business.

That includes: a close partnership with foundries on the next-generation process node; investment in tools for design for yield and design for test; a design team to integrate IP cores and build SoCs; and a dedicated team to maintain and refresh IPs; and disperse those IPs across different subsystems.

A good example is Virage Logic's announcement of a new agreement with TSMC that offers a full suite of 28nm memory compilers and logic libraries on TSMC's high-k metal gate (28nm HP) process. The IP supplier, through its close relationship with TSMC, hopes to enable the advanced 28nm design for early industry adoptersat "low risk."

Virage Logic's new arrangement with TSMC on 28nm, followed by its 40nm success, is noteworthy. But the announcement alone hardly paints a full picture of Virage Logic's ambitions.

As Mike Crawford, a senior analyst at B. Riley & Co., put it, Virage Logic is "a full-fledged SoC IP enabler, supplying everything from memory compilers and logic libraries to I/O interfaces and processor cores."

Today, Virage Logic offers IPs for configurable CPU/DSP cores, interface IPs (PCIe, MIPI, HDMI, DVI, DsiplayPort and memory interface designs), embedded SRAMs and non-volatile memories.

In a nutshell, Virage Logic is armed with "the broadest IP portfolio in the semiconductor industry," claimed Virage Logic CEO Shubat, thanks to the company's acquisition binge over the last few years.

The company's spending spree bought Virage Logic Ingot Systems (Double Data Rate controller PHY and Delay Locked Loop IP), in 2007. A year later, it acquired Impinj's NVM. A licensing agreement with AMD followed in January 2009, enabling Virage Logic to license rights for standards-based, serial interface IPs.

Finally, Virage Logic bought ARC International last September, allowing entry into the processor core IP market.

But the critical change came only when the company successfully crafted an "innovative" deal with NXP Semiconductors, according Shubat. The complex deal, when broken down, consists of three separate components.

First, Virage acquired NXP's "formidable" IP portfolioincluding analog, mixed-signal IPs. Shubat noted: "We also carved out NXP's engineering team"150 employeeswho can help maintain and support NXP's advanced CMOS libraries, IP blocks, and SoC infrastructure. The SoC infrastructure includes thousands of line items including busses, bridges and quality of service engines, he explained.

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